This week's team lines up as a 3-5-2 that looks like it has plenty of goals in it: to score and concede...
GK Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union): MacMath isn't even his own team's idea of a solid starting 'keeper, since the Union has devoted considerable resources this season to acquiring alternatives at his position. But a combination of Rais M'Bolhi's international commitments, Andre Blake's inexperience, and MacMath's own ability is keeping the 23-year-old in Philly's starting lineup. He's repaying the Union's lack of faith with a stolid professionalism that belies his age. And this week, he helped deliver six points with two clean sheets - both against Toronto FC, a team that has also been treated rather shabbily by its front office, but does not appear to be handling the experience nearly as well as MacMath.
DEF Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders): The Sounders put four goals past Chivas USA before half-time this week, and three of them were set up by the versatile Evans (who played midfield but is filling a need in defense for this lineup). He was the team's primary set-piece provider, and his reliable delivery allowed his teammates to wreak havoc on their hosts' dreadful marking. Obafemi Martins snagged a tap-in and Andy Rose got two goals from routines initiated by Evans dead-ball work.
DEF Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers): In mid-August, Powell was allowed back into the Timbers' starting lineup for CONCACAF Champions League. He scored a goal. Since then, he has started against Vancouver (last week) and San Jose (this week) - and scored in both. Portland's defense still isn't great - this week's effort was a 3-3 draw at home - but Powell is giving the impression of turning into a very rare type of footballer: the goal-scoring right back. His goal this week was arguably his best yet.
DEF Jamison Olave (New York Red Bulls): RBNY's defense was severely tested by Sporting Kansas City, and it would be disingenuous to suggest luck didn't play a part in the Red Bulls' 2-1 win. But Olave led a back line that has too often been mentally fragile this season with a steadfast performance, shrugging off the setbacks and recovering to make key interventions when required. His personal highlight came in the first half when he was floored by a blow to the head from his own 'keeper, lay flat out on the grass for a few seconds, dragged himself up to shut down Benny Feilhaber, and promptly collapsed again once the danger was cleared.
RM Justin Meram (Columbus Crew): He generally plays on the left for the Crew, and perhaps this is why no one is paying attention to his right foot. That should change after this week. The red-hot Columbus winger was twice allowed space and time to pick an improbable shot with his right foot - and scored both times as he guided his team to a 3-0 home win and fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
CM Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution): The Revs are on a four-game winning streak, largely thanks to their in-form attacking midfielder, Nguyen, who this week twice inspired comeback victories. Against Sporting Kansas City in midweek, he started and finished the move that put New England ahead, then added an insurance goal in stoppage time. At the weekend, he found Diego Fagundez in space at the far post with a neat chip for the equalizer that put the Revs on the path to another three points.
CM Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers): Valeri had more shots on target against the Earthquakes than the entire San Jose managed in reply. Unfortunately, none of them beat 'keeper Jon Busch - but he did find time to involve himself in all three of Portland's goals.
CM Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy): The Rapids conceded a penalty and lost their starting 'keeper before the first minute of their road game in LA had elapsed - for a team on a six-game losing streak (now duly extended to seven) it wasn't a problem they ever looked to have the mental strength to resolve. Colorado lost 6-0, and praise for the Galaxy should be tempered by context: the Rapids probably weren't up for the fight at full strength, let alone a man down. Nonetheless, Landon Donovan led the LA's gleeful dismantling of Colorado with exuberance - he contributed to every goal scored. For the first, he sprung Todd Dunivant down the left to loose the cross that created the panic leading to the penalty, and then converted the spot kick. For the second, he kept play and possession alive, got the ball back into the middle of the field to reset the attack, and positioned himself just wide enough for Chris Klute to be drawn too far away from Baggio Husidic to stop him from picking his shot. Goal number three came from a Donovan pass that put Gyasi Zardes in space, close to goal. The fourth goal was another penalty: Gyasi Zardes sold the referee on a dive, but Donovan's pass was the reason there was sufficient anxiety in Colorado's defending to make the idea of a foul plausible - and LD converted again. The fifth was a connection between Stefan Ishizaki and Zardes, but it was precipitated by a tackle on Donovan. And the sixth came from a LD pass to Husidic.
LM Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls): Let the record show Thierry Henry played left midfield for RBNY this week, and did rather well. Yes, he scored THAT goal - which will be shown over and over again after he retires, and still won't look any less extraordinary for the repetition. But he also defended well, playing the requirements of the position far more dutifully than he typically plays the forward role he normally occupies for the Red Bulls. Mike Petke asked his players for discipline and commitment this week. His captain gave him both, and threw in a moment of genius on the side.
FWD Omar Cummings (Houston Dynamo): Giles Barnes scored twice for Houston in this week's 3-2 win over Montreal. But he could have had a hat-trick if he'd been a little sharper - and it was all down to Omar Cummings. In the first minute, Cummings laid off for Barnes, whose shot lacked power on that occasion. Barnes got his first goal by collecting a flubbed interception that would otherwise have been a through-ball from Cummings. And Cummings provided the cross for Barnes to tap in his second of the game.
FWD Conor Casey (Philadelphia Union): Colorado let Casey go in 2012 after injuries restricted him to 32 appearances and eight goals in two seasons. Last year, the big man scored 10 in 31 games for the Union. This year, he might do better: two more goals this week brought his tally for the season to eight. He got the match-winner in both of the Union's games against TFC in week 26.
COACH Jim Curtin (Philadelphia Union): In June, Curtin took over a team that had managed to pick up just three wins in its first 16 games and was averaging less than a point per game. Since he was put in charge, the Union has won six of 11 matches, including its last three straight - of which the two most recent were this week.