MLS Team of Week 12

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Dom Dwyer, Fabian Espindola, Erik Hurtado, Robbie Keane, Khari Stephenson, Gyasi Zardes: a lot of guys who did big things this week aren't in this line up.

Is a 3-2-3-2 formation even a thing? It is this week: a narrow but creative line up, largely built to accommodate a particular fascination with Patrice Bernier.

GK Jon Busch (San Jose Earthquakes): As Tally Hall melted down at the other end, Busch backstopped an all-fullback defense to a clean sheet. It wasn't as easy as the scoreline might suggest. He made important saves early and late, to keep the Dynamo out of the game.

D Bradley Orr (Toronto FC): With the World Cup claiming many of MLS's key players, there is a lot of improvising going on around the league. One of the more successful stand-ins thus far is Orr, a utility player who is generally described as a defender. But he's deputizing admirably in central midfield at TFC. This week, he basically terrified Sporting KC into turning the ball over for the breakaway that brought Toronto's first goal, and then nodded in an injury-time equalizer for his club. Who needs Michael Bradley?

D Matt Hedges (FC Dallas): His early combination with 'keeper Chris Seitz to keep RSL off the scoresheet set the tone for a rearguard triumph. FCD is still winless in seven games, but to take a clean sheet away from a trip to the league's only unbeaten team is an achievement, and Hedges was at the heart of it.

D Shane O'Neill (Colorado Rapids): A sentimental pick. The Rapids were not as superior in either attack or defense as their 4-1 win over Montreal might suggest, but the young defender banged in his first MLS goal, and so deserves a mention.

DM Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact): Often, it just takes one play to make the Team of the Week, and that play is usually a goal or an assist. But sometimes one needs to applaud the good work that doesn't make the scoresheet. Bernier is an old man by soccer standards - he will turn 35 before the end of the season. Watching him forlornly chase a Deshorn Brown breakaway seemed to encapsulate everything that is wrong with Montreal this season: too old to keep up with the young guns around the league. But Bernier DID keep up, read the play, watched Brown round the 'keeper, and put himself in exactly the right place to block what should have been a shot on an empty net. And that illustrates everything that could be right with Montreal, if the team can ever get its act together for more than a few minutes each game.

DM Gershon Koffie (Vancouver Whitecaps): A thorn in Seattle's side throughout the Caps 2-2 draw with the Sounders, from his off-the-crossbar effort early on, through his quick-thinking lob into an empty net for his goal, to a couple of just-not-good-enough attempts to net a late winner.

LW Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution): Set up the Revs' first and scored their winner, which is pretty much the perfect day at the office for a creative attacking player.

CAM Dillon Powers (Colorado Rapids): The Rapids won a nonsense penalty early in their 4-1 rout of Montreal, but that wasn't Powers's fault. He duly converted and set his team on its way to a resounding, and much-needed win. His second goal was an artful shot on the turn, and nearly as good as his teammate, Kamani Hill's effort (which doesn't quite get him in this team, but does warrant a look: see video below).


RW Federico Higuain (Columbus  Crew): The MLS highlights' caption calls Higuain's first assist in the Crew's 2-0 win over Chicago "extraordinary". It wasn't extraordinary, it was a smart and simple pass into the channel, perfectly weighted for a forward to run onto for a one-on-one with the 'keeper. And that is better than extraordinary, it's something a skilled player can do again and again - as Higuain proved with his second assist.

FWD Maxi Urruti (Portland Timbers): One deflected hit-and-hope effort and a sharp finish through traffic combined to give Portland its first away win of the season and illustrate the value of a front man who can create his own chances or convert those that come his way.

FWD Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy): What's the best thing you can do after getting unexpectedly dropped from your country's national team on the eve of a World Cup? Score two goals (and set up another) to claim the all-time goals scored record in your league? Yeah, that'll do.


Coach Jeff Cassar (Real Salt Lake): It's tempting to say Oscar Pareja won the FCD vs. RSL coaches' battle this week, since he set his hapless team up to withstand a shelling on the road. But Cassar deserves greater credit: he's lost key players to the World Cup (Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and Alvaro Saborio), and his team had a bit of an off day.

Nonetheless, the RSL system prevailed, delivering possession and chances. No goals, but Salt Lake remains unbeaten. It's not easy to beat the vagaries of form and fitness week in and week out with a small, salary-capped squad, but Cassar has shuffled his deck astutely and now has a share of the league's all-time record for most consecutive games without losing to start a season.

And Cassar is now tied with Lothar Osiander for the longest unbeaten streak to start a season of any rookie coach in MLS. The difference between Cassar and Osiander, of course, is that the former is a true rookie coach - in his first season as head coach of a professional team - while Osiander is an experienced, former USMNT, head coach who happened to be working in the first season of MLS's existence.


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