It's a 3-5-2 this week with not nearly as many Red Bulls as you might expect after the team won two games in four days...
GK David Ousted (Vancouver Whitecaps): Bill Hamid kept two clean sheets for D.C. United in Week 17, but he was afforded good protection by his back line. Ousted was not. Despite playing a man up for most of the game, the 'Caps allowed New England Revolution to rain nine shots on target - their 'keeper saved eight of them to facilitate a 2-1 road win for Vancouver.
DEF Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls):
DEF Bobby Boswell (D.C. United): DC had back-to-back road games this week and got clean sheets out of both them. Coach Ben Olsen rotated his squad to keep legs fresh and minds focused, but held Boswell as a constant at the center of defense. Chicago was limited to just one shot on target despite 62% possession; Toronto landed three on frame from 18 attempts: neither scored. DCU rolls out of Week 17 with four points and as the leader of the Supporters' Shield race, despite scoring only one goal (and that was a freakish shot abetted by a deflection of the sort no team can expect to see regularly) in its last two games. The back line, and the league veteran at its core, played a big part in keeping DC's unexpected challenge for the regular season title on track this week.
DEF Fabinho (Philadelphia Union): The Union's defense is terrible - 32 goals conceded in 19 games - but credit to the team for bouncing back from a 5-1 defeat in LA in Week 16 to get four points from two games in Week 17. Yes, both games were at home. Yes, everyone is able to beat the depleted Sounders at the moment. But Philly has quietly improved from terrible (one win in ts first 11 games) to decent (four wins from its last eight). Fabinho's contribution to the recovery included 90 minutes in the Union's clean-sheet win over Seattle and an industrious display against Montreal that saw him deliver six interceptions and the shot that created the rebound for Maurice Edu to tap in for Philly's equalizer.
CM Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers): The knock on Nagbe is that he is a human highlight reel without much lasting impact on the score sheet. Lackluster Seattle provided him the opportunity to put that right in Week 17 - and Nagbe delivered his first goal of this MLS season and just his third assist as the Timbers overwhelmed the Sounders, 4-1.
CM Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes): You may remember that LA Galaxy was recently at its swaggering best - 10 goals in two games suggested the reigning MLS champ was ready to assert itself. The Quakes brought the Galaxy down to earth with a reminder that Bruce Arena's team still hasn't won on the road in MLS this season. And Wondo, playing a little deeper than might be expected of Golden Boot race contender, showed a playmaker's passing ability from midfield, as well as getting into position to demonstrate the fact he is still among the best finishers in the league.
CM Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy): Before the Galaxy went to San Jose to be humbled, the team thrashed Portland in LA - 5-0. Lletget broke the Timbers with a goal (his third in six appearances in MLS this season) and a run that ended with a penalty converted by Robbie Keane. The midfield match-winner might be the key to ending LA's road woes, or he might simply continue to get the Galaxy the points it needs at home to compensate for not being able to win on its travels.
RM Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew): The 24-year-old is the league's assist-leader at the end of Week 17. His team scored four goals to get four points from two games this week, flipping a six-game winless slide into a three-game unbeaten streak in the process - he helped deliver three of those four goals. Finlay was credited with an assist in each of the Crew's games, and scored Columbus's (second) equalizer against RSL.
FWD Kei Kamara (Columbus Crew): The Crew finished Week 17 with MLS's leading assist-man (Ethan Finlay) and leading scorer, Kamara. He scored twice against New England to help Columbus to its first win since May 9, and could have had the winner against RSL. Instead, he was forced to settle for a return of four points, two goals, one assist and a healthy lead in the Golden Boot race as his contribution to the Crew's double-game week.
FWD Fanendo Adi (Portland Timbers): If he played like this every week, Adi would be a contender for MVP. Decisive finishing left one of the league's better 'keepers - Seattle's Stefan Frei - helpless, and gave the Timbers' front-man two more goals as he helped his team bounce back from midweek humiliation in LA.
COACH Jesse Marsch (New York Red Bulls): RBNY's head coach was under pressure as his team stumbled into Week 17 on a four-game losing streak and with just one win in its last nine league outings. Marsch tweaked his starting lineup, pushing Anatole Abang up front and asking Bradley Wright-Phillips to play wide left, and received the gift of six points from two games. It was fortunate Real Salt Lake had its sting removed by two red cards in midweek, but the weekend performance - a three-goal second half to come back from being 0-1 down at half-time - against NYCFC showed the team can compete with opponents who keep all 11 men on the field. Marsch has his team winning again, and has perhaps uncovered the tactical adjustments he will need to prevent another prolonged slump in form.