This week's team lines up in a slightly unbalanced 3-5-2, but we're confident they'd play through it.
GK - Alec Kann (Atlanta United):
Denied Sebastian Govinco a hat-trick and Toronto FC all three points with some sharp saves that kept his team close and ultimately contributed to a point on the road for Atlanta.
DEF - Seth Sinovic (Sporting Kansas City):
The early read on KC this season was that the defense looked good, but there seemed to be some issues up front: the team had only scored (and conceded) in one of its first four games of MLS 2017. KC put those concerns to rest this week with a confident 3-1 win over Colorado - and it was the defense that started the scoring.
Sinovic has scored goals in MLS before, but only in the playoffs. He got the first goal of the game for KC this week: the first time he has scored in the MLS regular season. And then weighed in with an assist on his team's third for good measure.
KC is now recast as a team that has yet to lose, is tough to score on (two goals allowed in five games), and for whom even its most historically goal-shy players can find the net.
DEF - Joshua Smith (New England Revolution):
The 75th overall pick of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft made his second start in MLS this week, and helped New England to its first clean sheet of the season - against free-scoring Houston, which had scored at least twice in each of its first four games of the year.
The Revs have now added a 2-0 home win over the Dynamo to last week's 1-1 road draw with Portland Timbers: two of the higher-flying teams in MLS so far this season. And Smith has been a starter for both games. Promising start for the rookie center-back.
DEF - Roy Miller (Portland Timbers):
It was a good week for goal-shy left-backs. Sinovic scored his first regular-season goal for KC, and Miller (a center-back for the Timbers but always a left back to New York Red Bulls fans) got his first goal in any MLS competition.
After six seasons and zero goals for RBNY, Miller has his first for Portland in just his fifth appearance for the club. He scored the go-ahead goal (and game-winner) in the Timbers' 3-1 road win over Philadelphia.
LM - Michael Barrios (FC Dallas):
Barrios missed a chance or two to perhaps avert FCD's exit from CONCACAF Champions League, but he put his role in his team's 3-1 loss to Pachuca earlier in the week behind him with a goal-and-assist contribution to the 2-0 win over Minnesota this week.
CM - Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy):
The villain of MLS Week 6: Jones stands accused of milking contact with Montreal Impact's Marco Donadel to dupe the ref into sending the IMFC midfielder off. Whatever the merits of the decision, it helped tilt the game further LA's way (it was leading 1-0 when Donadel was dismissed). And Jones followed his ref-baiting with a more conventional game-changing moment: the Galaxy's second goal of its 2-0 win.
CM - Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire):
Until recently, the only thing McCarty had in common with Germany and Bayern Munich legend Bastian Schweinsteiger was neither of them seemed likely to play for Manchester United. But they are Chicago Fire teammates now, and the early signs are they are enjoying each other's company.
Real talk from @BSchweinsteiger. #cf97 @DaxMcCarty11 pic.twitter.com/hu9G9IqsPm— Chicago Fire (@ChicagoFire) April 9, 2017
McCarty had the captain's armband this week, and made his 250th start in MLS. He celebrated the occasion with a 1-0 win, an all-around performance that overshadowed that of his more vaunted colleague Schweinsteiger, and a memorable, game-winning through-ball.
.@DaxMcCarty11 gets things going in his 250th career MLS start & @niko_nemanja finishes. #cf97 pic.twitter.com/ZUkOSc67Zi— Chicago Fire (@ChicagoFire) April 8, 2017
CM - Albert Rusnak (Real Salt Lake):
RSL's first win of the season was a long time coming, but Rusnak steered his team through a snow-covered game to a 3-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps with a goal and two assists.
RM - Lloyd Sam (D.C. United):
Sam's first goal of the season helped DCU to a 2-1 win over NYCFC - and his saved shot provided the set-up for Luciano Acosta's match-winner. The former RBNY man has now produced four goals and seven assists in 18 regular-season appearances for DC: not bad for a player released by the Red Bulls amid whispers his ability to contribute significantly to the attack was on the wane.
FWD - Fanendo Adi (Portland Timbers):
A penalty at the end of an already-won game against Philadelphia provided Adi with the goal that made him Portland's all-time top scorer this week.
⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️ #RCTID pic.twitter.com/0c14q41hi8— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) April 9, 2017
FWD - Hector Villalba (Atlanta United):
Scored twice in an impressive performance by Atlanta: on the road in Toronto, the team took the lead, lost it and fell behind, then equalized, and finally held on for the last 15 minutes playing down a man to secure a road point against one of the better sides (it seems at the moment) in MLS.
Atlanta needs someone to carry the scoring load while Josef Martinez is injured, and it seems Villalba is well up to the task.
Coach - Mike Petke (Real Salt Lake):
First game in charge of RSL, first win - it was a good week for Petke. And a good week for a team that has been out of sorts since the start of the season (and beyond - this week brought RSL its first win in the league since last August). As an exchange of tactics and technique, the match was ruined by snow, but - to paraphrase Petke himself - that merely reduced the game to a battle of wills. RSL won out, and that sound you hear is a number of MLS coaches shifting a little uncomfortably at the evidence that a change on the sidelines can deliver a (short-term, at least) change in results.