Who plays 3-4-3? The Once A Metro MLS Team of Week 2, that's who.
GK Tyler Deric (Houston Dynamo): For the second week in a row, Deric kept his Dynamo in touch. Orlando had three shots on target - including a rather splendid free kick from Kaka - and Deric saved them all. Other 'keepers around the league made more saves, kept clean sheets, saw their teams win three points. So why is Deric, who scored the own goal that cost Houston the game, this week's pick? Because the own goal was a moment of genius.
The 'keeper made a mistake, taking a heavy touch on a routine back pass he should have punted up the field first time. Instead, he played the ball to close to Pedro Ribeiro, and the forward closed down the attempted clearance. Deric, understandably panicking, wraps his arms around Ribeiro in an instinctive effort to prevent him from reaching the ball and scoring a goal. Problem: from that moment, Deric is in line for a red card. He is denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. And Deric is just about the only player in form for Houston at the moment. A red card would cost him his place in the team, and the Dynamo doesn't look like it stands much of a chance at the moment without an in-form shot stopper between the posts.
So Deric does just about the only thing he can do to have a shot at not getting sent off: he scores the goal himself. Can't deny a goal scoring opportunity if a goal has been scored. And maybe the referee takes pity on the 'keeper whose first blatant error of an otherwise decent start to the season just likely cost his team points - which is what happened. Deric didn't even get a yellow card for clambering all over Ribeiro in the penalty area, because Orlando got the decisive advantage it deserved out of the situation.
The Dynamo lost, but Deric escaped unpunished and should be able to continue to backstop Houston's rickety defense next week.
DEF Michel (FC Dallas): He didn't play defense this week, but he can - and that is enough for this column to squeeze Michel into the selection. His set piece delivery remains among the league's best, and is essentially undefendable if the referees decide to ignore the offside rule, which is how Blas Perez got his second goal this week. And he took out the entire (out of position) midfield and backline with one pass, allowing Ryan Hollingshead and Fabian Castillo to connect for FCD's third goal.
DEF Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy): Eleven clearances and five interceptions is testament both to how busy he was keeping Portland's all-action midfield at bay, and how LA laid the platform to out-shoot and out-possess the home team - which led to a road point in a game that appeared to have been lost to Fanendo Adi's 90th minute go-ahead goal.
DEF Sean St. Ledger (Orlando City): Stepped in to the gap left by Aurelien Collin (suspended for his red card last week), and was Orlando's most active defender. He finished the game credited with 13 clearances, four interceptions, three tackles and one block. Houston failed to land a single shot on target.
MID Cristian Maidana (Philadelphia Union): The Union should not have stood a chance against RSL this week. Javier Morales was in fine form, Philly could hardly get hold of the ball, and once the home team took the lead in the 29th minute, it should have been all RSL. Instead, Maidana conjured an extraordinary ability to tease mistakes and misfortune out of his opponents. He bounced a cross off Kyle Beckerman, almost resulting in an own goal - and setting up Fernando Aristeguieta for a tap-in. A quick throw-in lured Chris Schuler into what was essentially a pass to Aristeguieta - suddenly the Union had the lead. And then Jamison Olave was inspired to attempt an interception of another Maidana cross - which he put into his own net. The Union almost won this week - arguably should have, since RSL's late, equalizing penalty was a soft call - and it was largely thanks to Maidana's ability to bring the worst out of some of RSL's more reliable players.
MID Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew): The Crew spent a lot of time this week trying to land the ball on Justin Meram's head. Finlay won the prize, connecting with Meram for the opening goal. He also was the man who coaxed Justin Morrow into a tackle the referee saw as red-card worthy, which dropped Toronto to 10 men and gave the Crew an advantage it exploited for two goals and three points.
MID Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew): The other side of the Crew's domination of TFC this weekend was control of the ball. In Tony Tchani's absence, Trapp has a new defensive midfield partner - Mohammed Saeid - and the task of matching wits against Sebastian Giovinco and Michael Bradley. Trapp led his team in tackles and interceptions(three each), as the Crew held 60% of possession and turned that into nearly double the number of chances TFC was able to create.
MID Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake): But for RSL's regrettable inclination to turn everything Cristian Maidana did into gold this weekend, we'd be hearing about Morales the match-winner. His goal was a very well-taken free kick, and it was more of his dead-ball wizardry (plus the literal collapse of Phildelphia's defense) that brought RSL's second goal.
FWD Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes): The Quakes embarrassed the Sounders in Seattle this week, in large part thanks to Wondolowski's relentless bullying of occasional USMNT colleague, Brad Evans, who had a rough outing at center back. Two shots on target brought Wondo two goals, erased the memory of an awful start (Clint Dempsey scored in the first minute of the match), and set San Jose on the way to three points on the road against what had looked like the best team in the league as recently as last week.
FWD David Villa (NYC FC): He was kept quiet last week, but this week gave NYCFC's first-ever home crowd what they came to see - an attacking clinic from an acknowledged star of the global game. Villa had five shots on target: as many as the rest of the players on both teams managed combined. He was denied a spectacular goal by New England 'keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, and his team is still relying heavily on Mix Diskerud's distribution. But his goal showed how his movement, control, and growing understanding with his teammates will open up defenses, and his assist demonstrated the challenge defenders will have keeping tabs on him and whoever is stalking the box for NYC FC.
FWD Fanendo Adi (Portland Timbers): Finishing was a problem for Portland last week - 18 shots, only six on target, and none in the net. Not so much this week. In a match the Timbers struggled to control, the team twice went ahead thanks to Adi - whose first goal was a particularly impressive shot. They won't play LA Galaxy every week, so there is reason for the club to hope efficient use of the ball will be rewarded by more than a point in future.
COACH Gregg Berhalter (Columbus Crew): For the second week in a row, his team has looked cohesive and well-drilled. And this time around, there were some goals too. The Crew made light work of beating a Toronto team that had appeared among the better sides in Week 1. The squad's depth was also on show, with Mohammed Saeid stepping in for the suspended Tony Tchani and Justin Meram returning to the starting lineup (and pestering TFC throughout the match) in place of Kristinn Steindorsson. After an opening match in which the team did everything but put the ball in the net, this week's performance provided early validation of the coach's vision for the season.