Three at the back this week as a sly tribute to Mike Petke's newfound tactical flexibility...
DEF Chris Wingert (Real Salt Lake): RSL got four points from two goals this week, which is testament to some tight defending. Wingert's a key part of the RSL back line, but he also is instrumental in keeping their possession game alive. He set up both his team's goals in week 21.
DEF Jeff Larentowicz (Chicago Fire): Converted to center back and Chicago conceded one goal in two games this week, and that one goal occurred on one of the occasions Larentowicz wasn't in position to keep his teammates on the back line from doing something abject. If the Fire could have scored more than one goal in two games, the transition of Larentowicz's leadership from midfield to defense might have been hailed as the tactical masterstroke of the week.
DEF Dan Gargan (LA Galaxy): The journeyman full back emerged this week as a key player in the Galaxy's irrepressible offense.
CM Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake): Against RBNY, his corner wasn't cleared well, allowing him to set up for a shot which triggered the events leading to RSL's goal; then followed with the match-winner against Colorado. Morales is still the man who makes RSL tick.
CM Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution): After almost single-handedly beating Colorado to snap the Rev's epic losing streak, and then marshaling his team to a one goal, one man advantage by halftime of the game against the Red Bulls, it would be harsh to discount Nguyen's work simply because his team only got three points out of six this week.
CM Dax McCarty (New York Red Bulls): For most of this season, McCarty's touch and decision-making has seemed to be sub-optimal, which makes his delicate, beautiful, chip for the equalizer that sparked RBNY's unlikely comeback win over New England all the more extraordinary.
LM Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy): He had to find a place on this team somewhere, and left midfield is as good a place as any. Two assists and a goal against Seattle, and another assist against Portland, suggest he may be back to something like his best for LA.
FWD Yannick Djalo (San Jose Earthquakes): Beating Seattle is no small thing, even in a week where the Sounders were made to look ordinary by LA. Djalo's emergence as a second-striker, playing behind (or sometimes in front of) Chris Wondolowski, has transformed the Quakes. The team appears every bit as reliant on him to make the new tactic work as it once was on Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon to make a more physical style effective - and that's just fine. Playing to your strengths is not a limitation, especially when your strength is confident one-touch passing and finishing.
FWD Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy): Led the Galaxy's charge for all three points against Portland by contributing to all three goals - sparking the move for the equalizer, scoring the go-ahead goal, and then knocking in another from the penalty spot just to be sure the game didn't get away.
Coach - Bruce Arena (LA Galaxy): Started the week by trouncing the Sounders on their own turf, and finished by pummeling Portland in LA. This is the week Arena reasserted his status as the best coach in the league by unlocking the tactics required to allow his best players to deliver their best work regardless of location.