What a weekend we have had in Major League Soccer! Over 40 goals scored across the fixtures and several standout performances. Here is the Team of the Week for Monday 23rd April 2018.
GK – JIMMY MAURER, FC DALLAS
In truth there were good goalkeeping performances all over MLS with four penalties saved but it’s Jimmy Maurer who gets the nod. He came to the fore with a fantastic double save from David Accam and CJ Sapong in the 58th minute, keeping the game level and enabling the late surge for FC Dallas to take all three points against Philadelphia Union.
LB – JIMMY MEDRANDA, SPORTING KANSAS CITY
Everybody likes a goal from a full-back and Jimmy Medranda (they won’t all be called Jimmy, don’t worry). He provided a hell of a strike on the half-hour mark for Sporting KC. His goal sent them into a three-nil lead and it was absolute thump of a shot, swerving in the air and leaving Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic pawing thin air.
CB – MICHAEL PARKHURST, ATLANTA UNITED
Clean sheets earn a place in this team at centre-back, Nick Besler of Real Salt Lake can consider himself unlucky to be overlooked as he made his first start of the season and alongside Justen Glad earned his side a clean sheet but I have to give the nod to Atlanta United’s captain Michael Parkhurst for his efforts in keeping Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet as Atlanta’s cruised past LA Galaxy. The Swede cut a frustrated figure as he was forced to come progressively shorter to pick up possession with the Atlanta United three-man central defence marshalling his efforts.
CB – CHRIS McCANN, ATLANTA UNITED
It’s fair to say that Chris McCann has struggled in recent times with seemingly being unable to secure a position as his own under boss Gerardo Martino. What makes McCann’s struggles more unfathomable is that he was one of the first signings for the club and helped unveil the kit, yet found himself down the pecking order in central midfield, his preferred role. In the last few games he has been reinvented as a central defender on the left of a three and performed well, particularly against Minnesota United. For this level of versatility, Chris earns his place in the inaugural Team of the Week.
RB – ALVAS POWELL, PORTLAND TIMBERS
Part of the successful Timbers side this weekend who ended the unbeaten run of New York City FC, the Jamaican oversaw a clean sheet alongside the likes of Mabiala and Liam Ridgewell. Powell got forward to good effect, providing a cross for the assist as Sebastian Blanco headed in the opener.
CM – YOSHI YOTUN, ORLANDO CITY
An assist and a contribution to another goal from the Peruvian helped Orlando City to victory over San Jose Earthquakes. The assist was a beautiful lofted pass from one touchline to the other, allowing Chris Mueller to bring down and finish. He then thrust the ball up to Mueller with the outside of his foot to unselfishly pass to Sacha Kljestan who score Orlando’s second, after good work from Dom Dywer holding up the ball.
CM – MAURO DIAZ, FC DALLAS
He was on the pitch less than half an hour but Mauro Diaz made the difference alongside fellow substitute Urruti after being sent into the game by head coach Oscar Pareja. The switch proved successful with Diaz converting a penalty, coolly slotting home and sending goalkeeper Andre Blake the wrong way. Blake it has to be said had a good game himself with eight saves.
CM – CRISTIAN PENILLA, NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
It’s hard to know what was more eye-catching, the fact Cristian Penilla scored moments after Columbus had taken the lead just before the break or the nature of the first-time finish itself. New England Revolution owe him a debt of gratitude for their point.
LF – IGNACIO PIATTI, MONTREAL IMPACT
Clean sheets and hat-tricks get a player firmly entrenched in this team, the former San Lorenzo man might have been on the losing side but he did notch his first MLS hat-trick. The first was a measure of his composure, bringing the ball down with his first touch after a ‘keeper punched clear before lashing home with his second. His next goal was a penalty won and then scored himself before his third came with Impact down to ten men, a volley as the ball came down over his shoulder amid taking advantage of poor communication between Ciman and Zimmerman.
CF – GYASI ZARDES, COLUMBUS CREW
Zardes scored his fifth in eight games for Columbus. Enough said.
More? Okay then. When the transfer was made there was a lot of doubt that his ability had waned, indeed he spent part of last season playing in defence for LA Galaxy due to an injury crisis, but he has hit the ground running in a team shorn of superstars. Zardes is the big man on campus, the jock, the superstar with the billing he deserves, and crucially he knows where the goal is.
RF – JOHNNY RUSSELL, SPORTING KANSAS CITY
The former Derby County man is another to have fitted in at his club like a hand into a glove. Like Piatti he registered his first MLS hat-trick and in doing so achieved the second hat-trick in MLS history by a Scottish player. He even earned a penalty, which was saved, but claimed the match ball amid a huge win for Sporting Kansas City. Russell scored his three in 48 minutes and only played 56 in total before being substituted. His part in Sporting KC’s win earns him the captain’s armband in our first Team of the Week.