This week’s round up games saw the MLS draw within one game of the close of the regular season, and with that both the Sounders and Timbers clinched playoff berths in the Western Conference with big 4-0 wins over FC Dallas and DC United respectively. The Galaxy also pulled off a big 3-0 win over Minnesota, while Nemanja Nikolic netted a hat-trick to see himself rise on the MLS scoring leaderboard and the Fire rise above the Union. Both the Galaxy and the Timbers saw three players make this week’s TotW, while the Fire had two players make it. A player each from the Dynamo, the Revolution, and the Sounders rounded out the TotW.
GK – Tyler Deric (Houston Dynamo)
Tyler Deric put in his performance of the season during the Dynamo’s shutout of Sporting Kansas City. Recording nine saves against an SKC team that seemingly had total control of the match, Tyler Deric gave the Dynamo a shout at pacing about SKC come the final week.
DF – Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire)
Providing the assist for two of Nemanja Nikolic’s three goals, Brandon Vincent showed off his excellent positioning skills in Sunday’s win over the Philadelphia Union. His first assist came from a spectacular lobbed pass from the halfway line, and his second came in the form of a horizontal pass in front of goal to set up Nikolic. Both assists came from different areas of the pitch, and entirely different phases of play, yet both were spectacularly made.
DF – Michael Ciani (LA Galaxy)
Michael Ciani put forth one of his best performances of the season in the Galaxy’s shutout of Minnesota. Easily the best defensive player on the night for the Galaxy, Ciani proved why he is just as good as Jelle Van Damme, who he replaced in September. Keeping a Minnesota team that was furiously striving for a goal from getting such was no easy task, but Ciani and the rest of the Galaxy defence not only managed, but they also were able to recycle possession into lucrative attacking opportunities.
DF – Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers)
Powell scored the second goal of the night during the Timbers’ rout of DC United. With an excellent curled shot from just outside of the box, Powell showed why he is one of the league’s best right-backs, with his ability to roam anywhere in the opponents’ half and make a difference. He puts in a solid defensive effort, and then makes a significant impact in the attacking phase of play to influence the flow of the game. He’ll be a key piece of the Timbers’ defence for years to come.
MF – Romain Alessandrini (LA Galaxy)
A shining star in the Galaxy’s otherwise horrible campaign this season, Romain Alessandrini scored two of the Galaxy’s three goals in their superb win over Minnesota. With his dynamic capability to score a goal from anywhere, and consistently maintain his threat in the attacking third, Alessandrini was easily the signing of the season for the Galaxy and is a contender for MLS Newcomer of the Year.
MF – Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
With a goal and two assists, Diego Valeri was once again a crucial piece on the Timbers’ game, aiding in their demolition of DC United. With his goal tally at 21 goals, he is three goals shy of league-leading Nemanja Nikolic, but all it takes is one great game to bring that tally level. Also, with his two assists, he brought his season total assists to 11, making him only the second player in MLS history to rack up at least 20 goals and ten assists. The Timbers’ can make it far in the playoffs if they continue to get the best from Valeri.
MF – Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution)
Diego Fagundez scored two in the Revolution’s big win over NYCFC, and despite the Revolution missing out on the playoffs this season, they will be able to look at several bright-spots in their season like Diego Fagundez’ performances. With his first goal coming from distance, Fagundez showed that he can be a threat on goal from any distance, and his second goal being poached after a bobbled save by the keeper showed his situational awareness is fantastic and a definite benefit to his team.
MF – Jonathan Dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
The jury is still out on whether Jonathan Dos Santos was a good transfer for the Galaxy, as both he and his brother Giovani have been struggling for form along with the rest of their team. Regardless of that, Jonathan’s impact in the Galaxy’s win on Sunday showed just how crucial he can be to their future success, with his ability to affect play from anywhere on the pitch and even score goals in unique ways like his headed goal from distance that was originally ruled not a goal but was later confirmed a goal by VAR. Give the Galaxy and Jonathan a fresh start next season and I think the team as a whole will be able to put up a much better performance.
MF – Sebastian Blanco (Portland Timbers)
Blanco netted two in the Timbers’ win over DC, putting on a fine display of skill in the meanwhile. His first goal was an absolute bullet of a strike from the edge of the box, highlighting his powerful right foot and ability to score from a relative way out. His second goal came as he showed off his dribbling prowess to beat not one, but two defenders in the box, and then round the keeper for the goal. Blanco was instrumental in the Timbers’ victory, and an easy addition to this team of the week.
FW – Nemanja Nikolic (Chicago Fire)
With a game-winning hattrick, Nemanja Nikolic proved once again to be the much-needed talisman for Chicago Fire. Also, with those three goals, Nikolic has taken a firm lead in the race for the Golden Boot, which seems all but his at this point. Nikolic will need to keep this form up for the Fire to make a good run in the playoffs.
FW – Will Bruin (Seattle Sounders)
Bruin’s brace in the second half set the game well out of the hands of FC Dallas, helping the Sounders to a much-needed win to finally clinch a playoff spot. Scored within three minutes of each other, Bruin’s goals very much showed the personality of a poacher. With the first goal coming from Bruin capitalising on the mistake by the Dallas keeper, to Bruin scoring a wayward ball from just inside the box. If Bruin can keep up with scoring these unexpected, opportunistic goals that are as difficult for the keeper to stop as they are to score then the Sounders have a solid chance of winning the MLS Cup.