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MLS Team of Week 9

A lot of Dallas and Toronto (and forwards) this week...

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

This week's team gives a lot of respect to forwards, and lines up in a lopsided 3-4-3 that really just wants to be three at the back and everyone else up front.

GK Chris Konopka (Toronto FC): This column seems to keep finding reasons to overlook Sounders' 'keeper Stefan Frei, who was kept relatively busy by NYC FC this week. Konopka had pretty quiet afternoon against Philadelphia. But if TFC had lost, all eyes would have been on the back-up 'keeper. He may not feature again for the Reds this season, but he delivered the clean sheet that was required for a 1-0 win and three points.

DEF Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers): Portland squandered a solid defensive performance that limited the visiting 'Caps to 35% possession and just two shots on target, managing only a 0-0 home draw. But it wasn't Powell's fault his team missed a penalty. He put in work this week, racking up nine tackles - which makes him the league-leader (by a comfortable margin) in successful tackles for the season to date.

DEF Damien Perquis (Toronto FC): It is tempting to discount TFC's clean-sheet-backed win over Philadelphia because Philly is awful at the moment, but the Union had more than 60% of possession. The home team simply couldn't get many shots on target. Part of the reason for that was a hard-working defensive performance. Perquis tallied 12 clearances and five interceptions: around 25% of his team's total in both categories.

DEF Bobby Boswell (D.C. United): In his 299th appearance in the MLS regular-season, Boswell helped DC to a clean sheet against a lively Columbus Crew, who saw a lot of the ball but only landed three shots on target.

LM Fabian Castillo (FC Dallas): Four goals and five assists in nine appearances says as much as is necessary about the current form of this early-season MVP candidate. One of those goals and two of the assists arrived this week in FCD's 4-1 take-down of Houston Dynamo.

CM Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas): He also picked up a goal and two assists against Houston. Diaz has been hailed as the player who "turns the lights on" by no less a source than his head coach, Oscar Pareja. His team has now won four and drawn one of the five games Diaz has played so far this season.

CM Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC): He's not a midfielder, but he had to get squeezed into this lineup somewhere. His free kick sealed all three points for TFC, and it was a match-winner of the highest order.

RM Teal Bunbury (New England Revolution): On another day, Bunbury might have been the Revs' villain of the weekend - since he ought to have been called for a penalty that might have allowed RBNY on to the score sheet a little earlier in the match. As it was, he got away with that moment of carelessness, and popped up on the end of a characteristically sharp Revs' passing sequence to put his team ahead by two goals early in the second half.

FWD Fabian Espindola (D.C. United): He has been returned from suspension for two games, and DC has won both. Coincidence? Not in this sort of form: he scored one and set up the other in DCU's 2-0 win over Columbus this week.

FWD Gabriel Torres (Colorado Rapids): Torres was brought in by Colorado to score goals and...well, he hasn't been prolific in that regard. Three goals in seven appearances in 2013 (he was a late-season signing) hinted at his potential to wreak havoc on MLS defenses. But he only managed another three in 23 appearances in 2014. So the fact he scored twice in two games this week is significant. And those two goals helped Colorado to two points from a testing road trip that took the Rapids to Red Bull Arena and the StubHub Center.

FWD Obafemi Martins (Seattle Sounders): Any MVP campaign this season is going to have to explain how it matches up with what Martins can do and has been doing for Seattle. Two goals this week lifted his total for the season to six from seven appearances. And the league's leading scorer also chipped in an assist as the Sounders neatly eviscerated NYC FC in Yankee Stadium.

COACH Oscar Pareja (FC Dallas): A 4-1 win on the road in Houston bounced FCD back to (joint) top of the Shield race (level on points with New England and DC, but held down to third by goal difference). His team also leads the league in scoring (15 goals from nine games), which is useful because the defense has been a little leaky (12 conceded so far). But after an unexpected thrashing by the Rapids a few weeks ago, Pareja has got his team firing again and back among the league leaders. This week's win was the most emphatic of the round in MLS, and it would appear rumors of a slump in Dallas were premature.