Team of the Week (Wk 11): Cascadia flavor in this week's selection
Week 11 could not have gone much better for MLS teams in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle picked up shutout wins against Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes, the latter turning into a rout. Portland tied league-leading FC Dallas on the road before cruising past Chivas USA at home, and Vancouver downed the defending champion LA Galaxy 3-1.
Between all that success and the fact that these three teams outscored their opposition 12-2 over five games, they were bound to be heavily represented in the Team of the Week. MLSsoccer.com's video and editorial staff complied, voting seven players from the three teams in the selection and adding another via honorable mention.
That's not to take away from other successful showings across the league, with Houston and Kansas City leading the way in the East on Wednesday and Sunday, respectively. Each placed one player into the week's best XI.
But really, this was a week that screamed "Cascadia!"
Who else made the cut? Read on to find out...
GK: Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union) – Much has been made – not all of it positive – about MacMath's performances in the Union goal, but there were no such qualms Saturday, as the 23-year-old turned in a spectacular six-save showing to help guide the Union to a shutout win.
DF: Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City) – Was at fault for Seattle's game-winning goal in Sporting's 1-0 home loss on Wednesday night, but bounced back superbly with an outstanding defensive performance and the lone goal, earning him Man of the Match honors as SKC snapped Houston's record home unbeaten streak.
DF: Markus Holgersson (New York Red Bulls) – Put on a strong show at the back in New York's 2-1 win Wednesday evening over Montreal. Helped shut the Impact out until the last minute of regulation and provided the flick for Thierry Henry's game-winning bicycle kick. Also had a solid, if unremarkble shift in the Red Bulls' 1-1 draw with New England over the weekend.
DF: Djimi Traore (Seattle Sounders) – Two shutout wins and a game-winning goal – just about as good a week as the veteran Malian defender could have asked for. Looked very good in the back against both Sporting and San Jose.
GOAL: Wallace unlocks defense for Valeri goal
MF: Mauro Rosales (Seattle Sounders) – One of the main catalysts in the Sounders' 4-0 thumping of the San Jose Earthquakes. Scored a highlight-reel free kick and notched an assist.
MF: Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers) – Pulled all the strings for Portland in their 3-0 win over Chivas USA on Sunday. Assisted goals from Rodney Wallace and Will Johnson and netted a coolly-finished goal of his own.
MF: Diego Chara (Portland Timbers) – You won't find his name anywhere on the scoresheet, but the Colombian was perhaps Portland's best player over both games they played in the week. He complemented his incredible work rate with solid work on both sides of the ball, getting up and down the field with ease.
MF: Russell Teibert (Vancouver Whitecaps) – Showed flashes of something special in his growing minutes over the start of 2013 and put it all together in Saturday's 3-1 win over the LA Galaxy, where he netted his first two MLS goals.
FW: Rodney Wallace (Portland Timbers) – Continued his breakout season for the Timbers on Sunday afternoon with the opening goal and a well-timed through ball for an assist as his side buried Chivas USA.
FW: Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo) – Though he had no luck over the weekend against Sporting KC, the Week 11 MLS Player of the Week was dominant in Houston's 4-0 thumping of D.C. United in midweek action, notching two goals and two assists in the rout.
FW: Lamar Neagle (Seattle Sounders) – Continued to make his case for a starting forward spot over the high-profile duo of Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins with a two-goal showing that keyed the Sounders' romp over the Earthquakes on Saturday afternoon.
Coach: Sigi Schmid (Seattle Sounders) – After plenty of early-season struggles, Schmid finally has his Sounders humming. Servando Carrasco's insertion into the lineup has quietly helped stabilize the Seattle midfield defensively, and Rosales is playing like the DP he is in attack. Now the question is, what to do with the red-hot Neagle once Martins and Johnson are both at full fitness?
Honorable Mention: Clint Irwin (Colorado Rapids), Andy O'Brien (Vancouver Whitecaps), Michel (FC Dallas), Sebastián Velásquez (Real Salt Lake), Andrew Driver (Houston Dynamo), Patrick Nyarko (Chicago Fire), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls)