The final edition of the 2011 Team of the Week features a best XI with players from 10 different teams. The only team to contribute multiple players? The red-hot Houston Dynamo.
With an eye toward the playoffs, Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew can count on two players – Álvaro Saborío and Dilly Duka – who registered their best performances of the season over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Toronto FC and the San Jose Earthquakes -- two teams that didn’t make the playoffs -- head into the offseason knowing they have two starters with All-Star potential in Danny Koevermans and Steven Beitashour, respectively, if they can carry over their 2011 close into next year.
GK Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City) – Five key saves, including a couple of his patented kick saves, to secure a championship-like road win against D.C. United and the league’s leading scorer.
DF: Jan Gunnar Solli (New York Red Bulls) – Owned the right flank against Philly. In tandem with Dax McCarty, he gave fits to the Union and assisted on the winner. Logged a solid day’s work on the defensive end, too.
DF: Jalil Anibaba (Chicago Fire) – Sure, he botched a clearance on one of the Crew’s goals but he scored twice, earned Player of the Week honors and made his fair share of defensive interventions, including 10 clearances and seven interceptions.
DF: Futty Danso (Portland Timbers) – Capped a busy day on defense at central defender and outside back. A key block on Will Johnson was followed by a goal on the other end to equalize. Left an impression in his debut MLS season.
DF: Steven Beitashour (San Jose Earthquakes) – The league has taken notice of this rare breed of right back who covers ground and is still lucid enough in attack to make plays. He earned a PK and served Rafael Baca for his goal.
MF: Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders) – Was the boss of the midfield in LA against Chivas USA with 43 successful passes from the middle of the park. With Mauro Rosales going down to injury, he picked up his team and didn’t allow them to sulk.
MF: Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo) – Became the assist king with his 16th helper in the 3-1 win over LA. He also had the free kick delivery on the second goal. Always finds a way to leave his mark on a match.
MF: Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew) – Crew manager Robert Warzycha called his game in Chicago the best of the season. He’s coming into form after a long layoff due to injury and showed he could be a difference maker for the Crew in the postseason.
MF: Adam Moffat (Houston Dynamo) – Now an immovable starter at holding mid for Houston, Moffat woke his team from its slumber with a spectacular long-distance effort. His work rate and attitude have upgraded Houston’s midfield.
FW: Álvaro Saborío (Real Salt Lake) – One of the best performances of the season for the Costa Rican just in time for the playoffs. A goal, plenty of energy and several other scoring opportunities. He’s back.
FW: Danny Koevermans (Toronto FC) – Although he scored his 8th goal in 10 MLS matches, the Dutchman also showed deft feet in serving up the assist to Nick Soolsma with a perfectly weighted pass. TFC fans can’t wait to have him for a full season.
Manager: Hans Backe (New York Red Bulls) – After Thierry Henry’s red card in KC, many expected the other shoe to drop in the season finale against Philly. But RBNY put together a professional performance and one that provides the blueprint for postseason success. Despite pressure to play Juan Agudelo in Henry’s absence, he kept him on the bench and made the inspired move of playing Dax McCarty at right midfield. McCarty made the key pass that led to New York’s winner.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Bobby Boswell (Houston Dynamo), Benny Feilhaber (New England Revolution), Álvaro Fernández (Seattle Sounders), Joel Lindpere (New York Red Bulls), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Emilio Rentería (Columbus Crew), Dane Richards (New York Red Bulls), Frank Rost (New York Red Bulls), Jan Gunnar Solli (New York Red Bulls), Brian Umony (Portland Timbers), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)