The team of Week 9 is lining up in a 3-5-2, because there were a great many impressive midfielders this week.
GK Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls): Zac MacMath saved a penalty (again) - and lot more beside - but ultimately lost; Eric Kronberg had some good moments, but was at home playing a team which looks to be fading; Sean Johnson was very good until RSL proved just a little better. And this website is called Once A Metro. Luis Robles saved his first penalty of the season; and made some important stops to keep the clean sheet which allowed RBNY to secure its first road win of the year.
CB Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City): He may only have one more game for KC if the USMNT World Cup training camp opens on May 14. If that is so, this week's 2-0 win over Columbus was the Kansas City captain's last appearance in front of his home crowd until the fun in Brazil is over. He made it count, leading his team to a win, a shutout, and even contributing a memorable cross-field pass to the build-up for the first goal.
CB Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders): The Philadelphia Union could have come away from Seattle with a point and no one could have said it was undeserved. Philly created 15 chances, and proved a much livelier opponent than might have been expected of a team which hasn't won a game since March. But half of the Union's attempts on goal were blocked - and six of those were blocked by Marshall. He also scored Seattle's winner.
CB Mamadou Danso (Portland Timbers): He's not the most reliable center back in the league, as demonstrated by his own goal this week, which gifted DC United an equalizer. But Danso can find an unexpectedly deft touch at the other end of the pitch, as he showed with his goal: a confident, off-balance volley to the far corner. If Portland's forwards had Danso's finishing touch, his erratic defensive play would be much less of an issue for his team.
RM Oscar Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo): A couple of smart passes was all it took to erase Chivas USA's early lead and set the Dynamo on the path to a big victory in LA. First, Garcia's well-weighted pass proved to have sufficient momentum to run through the back line for Brad Davis to score after Will Bruin's dummy fooled the defense. Davis should have had a second after another Garcia pass found him with space and time to put a shot on target. But the Honduran was able to send Giles Barnes on his way for the goal that put Houston ahead - after which, the Dynamo never looked back.
M Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers): The Timbers' first win of the year owed a great deal to Valeri, who ran the midfield for his team and set up all three of Portland's goals (the only one for which he wasn't credited with an assist was Maximiliano Urruti's winner - scored after Bill Hamid saved Urruti's initial effort to convert Valeri's cross).
M Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution): The Revs' win over TFC in Toronto was the most impressive result of the weekend, and Nguyen was their most impressive player. When you overshadow Michael Bradley on his home turf, you've had a good week.
LM Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver Whitecaps): Manneh menaced San Jose's defense with a quickness of thought which matched the speed in his legs. He scored the Caps' opener by converting his own rebound, quickly spotting an entirely new angle for a shot after his first effort cannoned off the post. And Vancouver's third was a rocket from Pedro Morales, who had the time to pick his spot because most of the 'Quakes defense was trying to prevent the pass to Manneh.
FWD Patrick Mullins (New England Revolution): The 11th overall pick in the 2014 SuperDraft started just his second game as a professional this week, played his first full 90 minutes, scored his first goal, and drew the penalty which brought the Revs their first ever win in Toronto. If that seems like an awful lot to cram into one game, it's worth remembering the rookie is almost 10 months older than former Revs' forward Juan Agudelo. Mullins is making up for lost time.
FWD Joao Plata (Real Salt Lake): RSL didn't want for chances against Chicago, but Sean Johnson was having a good day, and it didn't seem as though Salt Lake were going to be able to turn abundant possession and scoring chances into the goals required not to lose, let alone win. Then Plata skimmed a shot past Johnson's near post. And he popped up in stoppage time (probably from an offside position) to knock in the winner.
Coach - Carl Robinson (Vancouver Whitecaps): Again? Yes, again. Robinson was Coach of the Week last time around because he didn't hesitate to make positive changes to a side losing 2-0, and they surged back to get a draw against RSL. This week, after two successive weeks of late-game equalizing, Robinson finally set his Caps up to start a game the way they've been finishing them: with speed and urgency and intelligent movement. Dispensing with Kenny Miller (now gone for good) and relying on younger guns paid dividends: three goals in the first thirty minutes. Vancouver still has defensive problems, but those will be easier to fix if the scoring is most often at the opponent's end of the field.