Team of the Week (Wk 1): Stars shine on opening weekend
Every week throughout the season, MLSsoccer.com will compile its Team of the Week through nominations submitted by the editorial and video staff.
Opening weekend has come and gone, and many of the league's stars picked up right where they left off, contributing to an exciting slate of games. In addition to the established stars making their presence felt, there were a couple newcomers that also stole headlines, while one of the league's most talked-about young players also burned bright.
Which players were the best of a sizeable crop of standout performers on Week 1? Read on to find out...
GK: Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting KC) – Here not so much for the number of saves he made (four), but rather for the timeliness of them. He kept Sporting in the game when Philadelphia was dominating in the first half, then preserved their lead late on. Was also confident coming out for crosses.
DF: DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders) – The Sounders certainly weren't happy about their season-opening loss to Montreal, but Yedlin was electric (not least because of his hair) on a rainy Saturday evening. He got up and down the flank well, made poised defensive plays, and came close at different times to grabbing the goal or assist that would've given Seattle a lifeline.
DF: Matt Hedges (FC Dallas) – The second-year center back looked every bit a veteran while, along with George John, leading a backline that was cool under plenty of Colorado pressure to a clean sheet and three points to open the season.
DF: Bobby Boswell (Houston Dynamo) – Houston may not have scored for 80 minutes, but they also played solid defense for 90 minues, with Boswell a part of the reason why. He was strong in the air and cleaned up nearly everything D.C. threw his way.
MF: Graham Zusi (Sporting KC) – Came through offensively with his team under pressure, ending up with a goal and two assists in Sporting's 3-1, season-opening win in Philadelphia. A surefire Player of the Week were it not for Mike Magee's hat-trick heroics.
MF: Davy Arnaud (Montreal Impact) – The veteran midfielder drew praise from all quarters for his complete performance against Seattle, doing well defensively with the Sounders holding most of the possession and providing the winning goal with a pinpoint lob of Michael Gspurning.
MF: Ricardo Clark (Houston Dynamo) – Much like Arnaud, Clark worked hard up and down the field for the 89 minutes he played on Saturday night, and was rewarded with the vital second goal of Houston's 2-0 win immediately before he came off.
MF: Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers) – His golazo was the appetizer in a stunning debut performance from the new Portland Deisgnated Player. His play in the second half and interplay with Darlington Nagbe were something to behold, and his snapshot led to Portland's second goal.
FW: Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) – Could Nagbe's breakout performance truly be here? If Sunday night's exceptional showing is any indication, there's no doubt. His immense talent was plain to see during an electric second-half showing and he showed good awareness to stay onside and finish Valeri's rebound for the Timbers' vital second goal in their 3-3 comeback draw.
FW: Álvaro Saborío (Real Salt Lake) – Coming off a 17-goal season that probably didn't get the attention it deserved, Saborío announced himself in a big way, bagging both goals with precision in a battle between two short-handed teams. He led RSL to a dream start with a 2-0 win at San Jose.
FW: Mike Magee (LA Galaxy) – The Galaxy are in November form to start the 2013 season, so it's only natural that Magee is in November form, too. He matched his three-goal total from the 2012 playoffs with a hat-trick in the Galaxy's 4-0 romp over Chicago, and his fine finishes earned him deserved Player of the Week honors.
Coach: Marco Schällibaum (Montreal Impact) – It may not have been pretty, but the head coach came out victorious in a debut that few gave him a chance of winning. Did well to keep Patrice Bernier shielding the back four throughout the game and picked the right personnel to hit the Sounders on the counterattack, which is just what they did to eke out a 1-0 win.
Honorable Mention: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact), Claudio Bieler (Sporting KC), Aurélien Collin (Sporting KC), Fabián Espíndola (New York Red Bulls), Raymon Gaddis (Philadelphia Union), Gláuber (Columbus Crew), Andy Gruenebaum (Columbus Crew), Bill Hamid (D.C. United) Federico Higuaín (Columbus Crew), Juninho (LA Galaxy) Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Daigo Kobayashi (Vancouver Whitecaps), Gershon Koffie (Vancouver Whitecaps), Y.P. Lee (Vancouver Whitecaps), Alessandro Nesta (Montreal Impact), Troy Perkins (Montreal Impact), Joao Plata (Real Salt Lake), Dillon Powers (Colorado Rapids), Marcelo Sarvas (LA Galaxy), Josh Williams (Columbus Crew)