Welcome to our third Team of the Week for the MLS 2018 campaign. It’s been another good weekend for the home sides so let’s see who made the cut this time as determined by @CharlieTangoFM.
GK – BOBBY SHUTTLEWORTH, MINNESOTA UNITED
For the first time this season, Minnesota United have won two matches in succession and it’s in no small part thanks to goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. If not for two big early saves and one late, the Loons may not have taken all three points. He denied Anthony Blondell with a fingertip save in the 8th minute, then somehow kept a Kendall Waston header off a corner from crossing the line and finally tipped away a curling Brek Shea shot to preserve Minnesota’s lead. In total he made seven saves across the entire game.
LB – ZAREK VALENTIN, PORTLAND TIMBERS
The American left-back receives the credit for Portland Timbers clean sheet as they went to San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium and came away with all three points. Timbers have now condemned the Quakes to a seven-game winless streak, which is easily the worst in the league currently.
CB – MICHAEL BRADLEY, TORONTO FC
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear before continuing, Michael Bradley is not a central defender. He is a creative midfielder who, like Bastian Schweinsteiger at Chicago Fire, has been pressed into action at the back due to injuries. It cannot be underestimated how important the experienced Dutch defender Gregory van der Wiel has been alongside Bradley, himself playing out of position. Bradley has got his head down and got on with it, culminating in a big win and a clean sheet for the reigning MLS Cup Champions.
CB – KIM KEE-HEE, SEATTLE SOUNDERS
Clean sheets draw the attention of Team of the Week so you can imagine how pleasing it was to see a 0 – 0 draw between Seattle Sounders and Columbus Crew. It’s no secret that Seattle Sounders need offensive reinforcements, for them the mid-season transfer window can’t come soon enough. For Seattle, Kee-Hee gets the nod and particular credit considering his central defensive partner Chad Marshall was replaced with Handwalla Bwana at half time.
CB – LALAS ABUBAKAR, COLUMBUS CREW
It seems every week there’s somebody from the Crew makes it into Team of the Week and getting the nod this time is Lalas Abubakar. Even our friends at MLSSoccer.com dispensed from their usual tactic of giving the man of the match to an attacker by naming Lalas Abubakar their man of the match after his presence in Columbus’ backline was a big reason the Crew earned a point.
RB – GRAHAM ZUSI, SPORTING KANSAS CITY
The 31-year-old defender was part of another successful backline, assisting in seeing Sporting Kansas City record a clean sheet against Colorado Rapids. He even got forward to take three shots on goal while being part of a unit along the right side of City’s lineup, dovetailing with Roger Espinoza and Johnny Russell.
CM – DARLINGTON NGABE, ATLANTA UNITED
Somewhat overshadowed by the arrival of Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Ngabe has been quietly getting on with his business in the middle of the park. He earns his place in the Team of the Week thanks to an assist for the goal that put the Five Stripes ahead by two. Nagbe’s run through Chicago’s defence was brilliantly timed, all he had to do was make a pass to Martinez for the tap-in.
CM – TYLER ADAMS, NEW YORK RED BULLS
New York City FC have been on a tear at the start of the 2018 Major League Soccer campaign but a loss to city rivals Red Bulls will have stung. One of the Bulls on the charge was Adams, who Ives Galarcep pointed out on twitter had already tackled half the NYCFC team and three of his own before 15 minutes were up. He also added the assist with a header for Derrick Etienne to finish, scoring Red Bulls’ fourth.
CM – KAKU, NEW YORK RED BULLS
Alejandro Romero Gamarra (Kaku) contributed a goal and two assists as the Red Bulls blew away Patrick Vieira’s men. The first came just two minutes in as he turned in a rebound from a Bradley Wright-Phillips strike. His two assists highlighted his range of passing in the final third, the first playing in Florian Valot through the City defence before saving a cross from the right for BWP.
CF – SEBASTIAN GIOVINCO, TORONTO FC
Toronto desperately needed a result against Philadelphia Union and they got it in no small part thanks to their talisman. You really can’t imagine where Toronto would be if it weren’t for the forward from Turin and again he demonstrated his worth as he served up a goal for summer recruit Victor Vazquez on the half hour, finding Hasler on the right in acres of space for a low cross into the Spaniard. Giovinco killed the Union off with the second Toronto goal and he remains crucial to the Canadian team’s hopes.
CF – IGNACIO PIATTI, MONTREAL IMPACT
The first player to appear in two Team of the Week columns is Montreal’s Ignacio Piatti and he captains this week’s side after three assists and a goal, contributing to all four of Montreal Impact’s goals. The first came just moments before half time, changing the team talks. He would go on in the second half to assist Anthony Jackson-Hamel for his second and Raheem Edwards before adding his own, getting onto a high ball over the top to out-sprint two defenders and slide the ball under the goalkeeper. The Argentinian now has five goals and six assists in eight games is starting to manoeuvre himself into an early 2018 MLS MVP challenge.