This week's team is lining up in a 3-4-3 because it doesn't expect to do a lot of defending. And if it does lose the ball, it has two goalkeepers.
GK Steve Clark (Columbus Crew)/Luis Robles (RBNY): A rare split decision - both 'keepers in the Crew-RBNY fixture were forced to bail out their teams, neither of which seemed greatly interested in keeping the score down. The 'keepers couldn't do much about the goals they conceded (one apiece: a penalty got past Robles; Clark was beaten by Bradley Wright-Phillips speed of thought more than anything else), but they conspired to ruin what probably ought to have been a 3-3 draw. The 1-1 final score was to their mutual credit.
Clark & Robles nominated for MLS Save of the Week
D Darrius Barnes (New England Revolution): The Revs limited KC to one shot on target this week, which is impressive work, even if they were the home team. The defensive burden was shouldered relatively evenly, but someone from New England's back line deserves a shout. Barnes gets the accolade because he also found time to make a nuisance of himself up front, contributing to his team's opening goal.
D Cristian (D.C. United): The reason DC walloped Dallas was largely because FCD couldn't get the ball - the home team kept over 60% of possession. And two of DCU's defenders (Bobby Boswell and Sean Franklin) scored goals. Cristian did not score, but he led his team in tackles, interceptions and recoveries.
D DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders): Count this observer as one of those who thinks Yedlin isn't quite ready for international soccer because his defending isn't quite there yet. But he didn't need to do much defending against a Colorado team that was steamrollered by the Sounders' offensive game. The young right back was a persistent menace to the Rapids, leading his team in completed passes.
M Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution): Had a hand in both the Revs' goals against Sporting Kansas City - both in stoppage time. Indeed, but for Oriol Rosell's handball, we might be celebrating his nifty chip-and-header combination in the 95th minute as one of the more delicately put together goals of the season to date.
M Sebastian Fernandez (Vancouver Whitecaps): Snatch a point in Salt Lake with a stoppage-time shot from a distance few would imagine likely to trouble Nick Rimando, the form 'keeper in these early weeks of MLS - yeah, that'll get you some recognition.
M Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact): L'Impact finally got a win courtesy of an all-hands-to-pump defensive performance (the Union out-possessed, out-passed, out-shot, but could not out-score, their opponents) and a single goal, set up by Bernier's heads-up, shot from distance. A slick ball skidding off a wet surface is tough to control, as Zac MacMath demonstrated by coughing up Bernier's shot and gifting Felipe a tap-in for Montreal's match-winner.
M Yannick Djalo (San Jose Earthquakes): He hasn't started a game yet in MLS, but that seems to have more to do with his fitness levels than his ability. With regard to cracking the starting lineup, he certainly helped his cause this week by knocking the only goal San Jose needed against Chivas USA to secure three points for the first time this season.
FW Bradley Wright-Phillips (RBNY): The New York Red Bulls scored five goals in two games this week, and BWP netted four of them and set up the other. The only way he could draw more praise for his recent work would be by changing his name to Clint Dempsey.
BWP's goal-of-the-week nominated strike vs. Columbus
FW Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders): Two goals against Colorado lifts Dempsey's total for the season to eight, and gives him pole position on the league's scoring chart. What might be of greater concern for Seattle's opponents is the fact Dempsey's goals this week, and the one he effectively set up for Lamar Neagle, are as much a function of the Sounders' overall attacking fluidity as they are owed to the individual talents of the team's star player.
FW Fabian Espindola (D.C. United): Perhaps what Espindola has been waiting for is a team ready to trust him to lead its attack. Certainly, he is capable - as proved this week, when he piloted DC United's dismantling of FC Dallas. Two goals and an assist were the tangible returns from his performance - including an entertainingly counter-intuitive opening goal in which Eddie Johnson played wide man and Espindola took on the crash-the-box target man role. Johnson can play Espindola's game, but I'm not sure anyone realized Fabian can do a pretty good imitation of Eddie.
Coach - Carl Robinson (Vancouver Whitecaps): For the second week in a row, the 'Caps grabbed a 2-2 draw courtesy of a late goal. This week, it was TWO goals in the last ten minutes of the game which gave Vancouver a share of the points. To come back from two down, on the road, against the only unbeaten team in MLS (Real Salt Lake) is quite an achievement. And since Robinson's 'Caps did something similar last week, it would appear this late-comeback trick is no fluke. If the coach can figure out a way to stop his team from falling behind in matches, the points could start flowing for Vancouver.