Despite there only being four games due to the international fixtures, there was still some good football to be seen. First and foremost among these matches was the Red Bulls huge 3-0 victory over the Whitecaps that saw then clench the final Eastern Conference playoff spot and land four of their players on the TotW. Other standout performances came from FC Dallas (four TotW appearances), Minnesota United FC (two TotW appearances), and Houston Dynamo (one TotW appearance).
GK – Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas)
– While certainly not tested as much as his opposite in front of the Rapids goal, Jesse Gonzalez certainly had to make a fair few saves. Despite failing to keep the first goal of the game from rolling in, Gonzalez made one of the best saves he’s made all year with an acrobatic finger-tip save just into the second half that allowed Dallas to rally and draw level only a few minutes later.
DF – Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls)
-A key piece of the Red Bulls big win over the Whitecaps, Tyler Adams put his prowess in the final third on display as he was constantly making threatening runs late in play to add more options from out wide. Another key dynamic in his play is his ability to drift inside and make an impact in the midfield, as he did when he assisted the second goal of the game from the centre of the pitch.
DF – Matt Hedges (FC Dallas)
– Captaining Dallas to a close encounter, Hedges did a solid job of keeping the Rapids’ attack shuttered. With the command of his defensive line, he not only kept play from building in the final third for most of the night, but he also helped keep Jesse Gonzalez from having to move into action on more than one occasion.
DF – Brent Kallman (Minnesota United FC)
– Heading home the late equalizer for Minnesota in their contest with SKC, Brent Kallman showed how he can be a player to look for to get stuff done when things are looking bleak at the end of the match. The goal was a fine topper for his typically excellent defensive play in limiting an exciting SKC attack to just a single goal.
DF – Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls)
– Putting on his typical showing as one of the best left-backs in the MLS, Kemar Lawrence added consistent depth to the left side of the Red Bulls pitch. Whether it was shutting down the Whitecaps’ winger, or aiding in build-up down the touch-line, Lawrence was a constant presence for the Red Bulls in their win over the Whitecaps.
MF – Javier Morales (FC Dallas)
– A late-addition during Dallas’ summer transfer-window, Morales hasn’t had nearly as much time to find chemistry within the team as the other players that came in earlier in the year. Adding fantastic depth to the midfield and an extra creative twist in the attack, Morales is showing just why he was such a key-figure when he was at RSL. This was no different in the draw against the Rapids, where Morales had a constant hand in the build-up of every play in Dallas’ attack.
MF – Carlos Gruezo (FC Dallas)
– Although not directly involved in any goals in the draw with the Rapids, Carlos Gruezo put on a fantastic performance as the work-horse of Dallas’ midfield. Operating from box-to-box, Gruezo was constantly present at both ends of the pitch helping break up plays in the defensive third, and contributing to build-up from midfield through into the final third. He put an all-around solid performance that will be relied upon in Dallas’ future campaigns.
MF – Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls)
– A massive impact in the Red Bulls’ huge victory over the Whitecaps, Kljestan directly assisted two of the three goals and was a looming presence throughout the build-up from midfield into the final third the entire game. If he can continue putting on performances like that for his team, then I’d reckon they’d have a pretty decent shot at the MLS Cup if a few of the other players could maintain good form as well.
MF – Tomas Martinez (Houston Dynamo)
– With a goal scored and an “assist” of the own-goal that brought Houston the win, Tomas Martinez put on an excellent performance against SKC. A constant threat in the final third, he was able to make threatening plays in front of goal on more than one occasion. With Houston playing SKC once more at the weekend, Matinez will need to put in another solid performance to help earn the win.
FW – Abu Danladi (Minnesota United FC)
– Assisting the goal late in the game to earn the draw against SKC, Danladi showed that he is as capable from the wing as he is centrally. His cross was so well timed, as is the usual with his wide-play, that Brent Kallman had an easy time finding the ball for the header into the goal. On a night when Danladi can perform this well out wide, and also centrally, he has the potential to be one of the best attackers in the league.
FW – Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
– With a big goal to open the game wide up for the Red Bulls, Bradley showed his mettle in his dribble up to the keeper and with the confident chip over his outstretched arms. This confidence is what helped him to such a successful season last season and what seems to have been missing at several points during this season. If he can hold onto it and build from that confidence, then Bradley has the capability to be the best forward in the league.