This week's TotW lines up as a 4-3-3 - and is one of those rare occasions when this selection has functional back four.
GK Chris Konopka (Toronto FC): The only reason TFC wasn't humiliated in Seattle was because Konopka kept finding ways to thwart Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey (who had eight of the Sounders' nine shots between them). It wasn't a perfect goalkeeping performance, otherwise he'd have kept a clean sheet, but Konopka made seven saves and kept Toronto in contention for points for much longer than ought to have been the case.
LB Chris Tierney (New England Revolution): How often do you see a full back score a tap-in? The fact Tierney was in position to cap the Revs' demolition of Orlando was testament to his team's total domination of the match. But it wasn't quite a tap-in: Tierney slotted the ball past the 'keeper with a confident finish, befitting of the striker's position he apparently decided to test out during injury time of New England's big Week 27 win.
CB Steven Vitoria (Philadelphia Union): Big win for Philly this week and a big step back into his manager's good books for Vitoria. This was Jim Curtin's assessment of the former Portugal youth international just over a month ago:
So Vitoria is basically the team's fourth center back right now, per Curtin. Don't expect him to play any time soon.— Dave Zeitlin (@DaveZeitlin) July 29, 2015
And this is what Curtin had to say after Vitoria helped limit San Jose to just two shots on target:
Jim Curtin salutes Steven Vítoria's performance: "That was the most aggressive I've seen him winning balls in the air."— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) September 6, 2015
More from Jim Curtin on Steven Vítoria: pic.twitter.com/mmajaa9bDG— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) September 6, 2015
A redemptive performance from the Union's big man at the back.
CB Andrew Farrell (New England Revolution): It's easy to take the Revs' seemingly effortless shut-down of Orlando for granted - OCSC was missing key attacking players, Kaka and Cyle Larin. But it takes work to restrict an opponent to one shot on target. Farrell led the Revs' back-line's mission to simply strip Orlando of the ball whenever possible with eight interceptions and three tackles.
RB Zach Lloyd (FC Dallas): The FCD center back slides into this lineup at full back (a position he's also quite good at) as the representative of perhaps the stand-out defensive performance of the week. Dallas went to Columbus missing a cluster of front-line players to international duty, started a slew (five, to be exact) of homegrown signings - some regular starters, some not - and got run all over the field by the home team. The Crew had nearly 70% of possession, completed more than 80% of passes, tried 32 crosses, won seven corners and a penalty, and totaled 15 attempted shots. But only three were on target and none went in. Lloyd contributed 11 clearances, eight interceptions, three tackles and a block to a busy defensive effort. And FCD won convincingly, 3-0.
MID Atiba Harris (FC Dallas): He was FCD's right back this week, but that position is occupied in this lineup. So for his goal-and-assist contribution to his team's win, Harris gets a spot in this selection's midfield.
MID Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution): This week, Nguyen became the first Rev to tally three assists in one game, it says here. That is impressive, not least when you consider Steve Ralston - MLS's assist-maker-in-chief until Landon Donovan snatched the title last season - played for New England for almost 10 years.
MID Michael Barrios (FC Dallas): Traditionally regarded as a midfielder, Barrios was listed as a forward against the Crew and did indeed wreak havoc from advanced positions. His goal was created by his own breakaway from midfield, chasing a clearance by Atiba Harris. And David Texeira got on the scoresheet by cleaning up the rebound off a shot from Barrios.
FWD Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders): The Sounders' prolonged slump coincides largely with the prolonged absence of their most potent attacking force - the combination of Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey. On his own, Martins can win a game, but not as often as when in combination with Dempsey, who appears to be able to read his forward partner's intentions better than anyone in the league. That understanding was behind the two goals Seattle used to beat Toronto FC this week: both of which were created by timely passes from Dempsey to Martins (and one of which Dempsey scored himself).
FWD Conor Casey (Philadelphia Union): Came off the bench in the 71st minute to score twice on the road in San Jose - turning an expected loss into the upset of the round. He has played fewer than 300 minutes in MLS so far this season, and this week saw his first appearance in the league since early August. He may get a few more chances to make his mark on the field after this performance.
FWD Didier Drogba (Montreal Impact): Can 37-year-old Drogba be a force in MLS? Well, he just scored his first, second, and third goals in MLS in his first start in the league. So the answer appears to be: yes, he can.
COACH Jim Curtin (Philadelphia Union): Took (at kick-off) bottom-of-the-table Philly into San Jose to play a team that had won four straight without conceding a goal. And won. By deploying Conor Casey, a player used so sparingly this season it would be reasonable to think he might have been waived or retired. But Casey is still an active member of the Union's roster, and Curtin beat the swaggering Quakes with what used to be their game: late-game heroics from a big man in the box.