It was a big week for Chivas USA and, since they got two 1-0 wins, it was a big week for defenders. So it's a week to stock up the back line and celebrate the work of those who stop the goals rather than score them. We're going 5-3-2 in week 17.
GK Clint Irwin (Colorado Rapids): In an odd match where both Colorado and Columbus spent a lot of time letting themselves down defensively, both 'keepers did sterling work to keep their teams in it. But Irwin had to work harder. The Rapids struggled to contain a rampant and direct Crew. Irwin was stretched repeatedly, made one extraordinary reflex save, and was only beaten after Dillon Powers decided to launch an attack on the Crew's behalf, catching his own defense (understandably, since who expects a teammate to belt a pass to the opposition forwards from midfield?) off-guard.
RB Donny Toia (Chivas USA): Two clean sheets and two wins in a week after being absolutely terrible for as long as memory will allow? Yeah, the Goats are going to get a lot of love for their work in week 17. Toia's first up. He made the highlight reel of the Chivas-Montreal game for the wrong reasons - taking an off-balance swipe at the ball, missing and letting Felipe Martins in for a chance. But, after apparently dropping out of MLS without making an appearance for his first club, RSL, he's quietly getting it done as a starting right back in Chivas USA's suddenly miserly defense. Against Montreal, he was responsible for almost a third of the Goats' total clearances and tackles.
CB Jonny Leveron (Vancouver Whitecaps): The Caps beat the Sounders in a close game, which was largely settled because Seattle couldn't convert decent possession into good chances. Leveron can take much of the credit for limiting the Sounders to just two shots on target. He was responsible for blocking four shots and making 16 clearances - more than half his team's total in each defensive category.
CB Carlos Bocanegra (Chivas USA): Led something of a backs-to-the-wall effort in San Jose with 12 clearances and, though less active, put in an equally effective performance against Montreal for the Goats' second clean sheet of the week.
CB Matt Hedges (FC Dallas): FCD's win over Philly was the sort of scrappy, ride-your-luck performance a team needs after having managed just one victory in 11 prior games. The Dallas defense wasn't perfect, but it worked hard, and Hedges scrapped and battled for his team better than anyone. When a defender has almost as many interceptions as clearances, you know he's aggressively and effectively disrupting the other team's rhythm.
MID Nick DeLeon (D.C. United): How did DC get out of Toronto with three points after being dominated for much of the game? Well, partly because of Bill Hamid's work in goal, and partly because DeLeon got them on the board by simply running at Toronto's back line until they fell over and he could get a clear sight of goal. Even Michael Bradley seemed more inclined to admire the winger's work than intervene.
MID Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers): His ability to cause panic in the penalty area was in full effect this weekend against LA. Valeri's deflected shot was Portland's first goal, and his blocked shot gave Jorge Villfana the opportunity to score the Timbers' second.
FWD Erick Torres (Chivas USA): He just doesn't stop. This week brought his third and fourth goals in as many games, and his team's second and third consecutive 1-0 wins. He is scoring all the Goats' goals and they are scooping up points from his efforts. After getting his team past San Jose in midweek, he seemed destined to slow down Montreal: of six shots, only one was on target. But it was the last one, at the very end of the game. It went in and it was special. Clutch.
FWD Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls): Another who won't stop scoring. BWP has now scored in eight of RBNY's last 10 games. This week, he scored two - the third time in this 10 game streak that he's bagged multiple goals in a match. His work this week was deceptively simple: chasing down a long ball and heading in a cross from the relatively close range. But the header was more difficult than he made it look, and his two goals came from the only two shots he attempted.
Coach - Wilmer Cabrera (Chivas USA): You can say San Jose and Montreal aren't the most impressive opponents in the league, but the Goats got two wins this week and no other team in MLS can say that. Well done, Wilmer.