ProSoccerTalk’s MLS Team of the Week – Week 4

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Forwards

Álvaro Saborío, Real Salt Lake – Our PST Player of the Week, Saborío scored twice while helped RSL to a 3-0 win over Toronto FC – a No. 1 vs. No 2 matchup, based on last week’s Power Rankings.

We could be wrong about: Blas Pérez, FC Dallas

(MORE: Explaining Player of the Week – Saborío over Zusi)

Midfielders

Mauro Díaz, FC Dallas – The young Argentine is becoming automatic on this list, but whereas last week Díaz took a backseat to Fabian Castillo (or, drew so much attention that he paved the way), the former River Plate midfielder played hero on Saturday. His late goal against Portland lifted Óscar Pareja’s team to its third win of the season. Last week’s performance may have been more heralded for that otherworldly ball he played for Je-Vaughn Watson, but his contribution against Portland was more influential.

Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake – As RSL’s focal point on Saturday, Morales exploited the space between Toronto’s lines to play a key part in his team’s last two goals. Beyond the goals, however, Morales was central to taking advantage of the work of Luis Gil and Ned Grabavoy, allowing the reigning Western Conference champions to hand TFC its first loss of the season.

Pedro Morales, Vancouver Whitecaps – An amazing display of passing over Saturday’ first half hour saw the former Málaga midfielder spraying the ball all over BC Place’s field, his first timed, long balls always leaving the Whitecaps within one touch of finding Darren Mattocks and Kenny Miller. His cross after an early corner began the play which created Vancouver’s opening goal.

Lee Nguyen, New England Revolution – It was already Nguyen’s best night of the campaign before a 93rd minute counter attack allowed him to end San Jose’s 21- match unbeaten run with his first goal of the season.

Osvaldo Alonso, Seattle Sounders – A typically destructive performance from “Ossie” was made all the more special as his skill in possession almost allowed the 10-man Sounders to preserve a draw against visiting Columbus.

We could be wrong about: Graham Zusi, Sporting Kansas City; Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers; Michael Bradley, Toronto FC; Ricardo Clark, Houston Dynamo; Perry Kitchen, D.C .United; Federico Higuaín, Columbus Crew

Defenders

Michael Parkhurst, Columbus Crew – When defending is good, it should look easy, but that doesn’t mean Parkhurst shouldn’t be acknowledged. His was the best defensive performance of the weekend, one which saw him constantly cleaning up the space between Steve Clark and the Columbus defense while Seattle was playing with 11. Another week, this could have been a sneak Player of the Week winner.

Nat Borchers, Real Salt Lake – Borchers didn’t make it look quite as easy; then again, he was going up against Jermain Defoe. Not renown for his foot speed, the RSL defender kept up with the England international, leading the effort that kept Defoe off the scoresheet for the first time this season.

Jair Benítez, FC Dallas – A second straight Team of the Week appearance for Benítez, who most will remember for the fouls he laid on Darlington Nagbe during Saturday’s first half. Beyond that rough play, however, Benítez was again the weekend’s best left back, his crossing help produce Dallas’s first goal.

(MORE: Last week’s Team of the Week.)

Kellyn Acosta, FC Dallas – It was an off week for the league’s right backs, allowing Acosta’s role on Dallas’s first goal to claim a spot in this team. Playing against 10 men, Acosta saw more room through midfield than usual, space he used to help provide width for his own 10-man side.

We could be wrong about: Aaron Wheeler, Philadelphia Union; Jordan Harvey, Vancouver Whitecaps; Armando, New York Red Bulls; Eric Miller, Montréal Impact

Goalkeeper

Steve Clark, Columbus Crew – Clark’s save on Lamar Neagle in Saturday’s first half may have been the most important stop of the weekend, but it wasn’t the new Crew No. 1’s only contribution. Among other strong moments, Clark came up big again just before Djimi Traoré’s sending off, helping Columbus stay close enough to take advantage of the Seattle defender’s dismissal.

We could be wrong about: Dan Kennedy, Chivas USA

Chastain, MacMillan inducted into US Soccer Hall of Fame

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Brandi Chastain looked at the assembled crowd in a tent under the rain and addressed former coach Tony DiCicco, who had just introduced her at the induction ceremony for the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame.

[ MORE: USMNT smashes six past Honduras in CONCACAF WCQ ]

“Thank you, not just for today but for every day that you gave me the chance to play for the women’s national team, and for having the confidence in me and the guts to tell me I wasn’t going to be a forward,” she said.

Chastain, a forward on the 1991 World Cup champions and a left back whose penalty kick won a shootout for the 1999 title, was inducted Friday night along with midfielder Shannon MacMillan, a 1996 Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion three years later.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USMNT’s win over Honduras ]

The ceremony was held before the U.S. men played Honduras in a World Cup qualifier.

Remembered most for pulling off her shirt after her World Cup-winning goal and celebrating in a sports bra, Chastain grew up in San Jose and talked about her early days playing youth soccer in the area, starting with the Quakettes. After winning her first World Cup title, she was left off the 1995 roster. She revived her career as a defender.

“Change is good. Though, scary, it’s good. And I think we would all benefit from seeing change as an opportunity for growth and development, and for a new adventure,” she said.

Now 38, Chastain scored 30 goals in 192 international appearances and also won a pair of Olympic gold medals. MacMillan, 42, had 60 in 176 international games.

“It was always such a massive honor that gave me chills every time I walked in that locker room, whether it was my first cap, my 100th cap or my last cap,” MacMillan said. “It was something that I never took for granted.”

Soccer America’s Paul Kennedy was given the Colin Jose Media Award.

The Hall’s building in Oneonta, New York, closed in 2010 and a new Hall is being built in Frisco, Texas.

Hernandez, Araujo score in 1st half, Mexico beats Costa Rica

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
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MEXICO CITY (AP) Javier Hernandez and Nestor Araujo scored in the first half, and Mexico overcame the absence of half a dozen players to beat Costa Rica 2-0 on Friday night in a World Cup qualifying match.

Hernandez scored on a cross from Carlos Vela to open the score in the seventh and Araujo added a goal on a header in the 45th.

[ USMNT: Recap & videoPlayer ratings ]

Hernandez scored his 46th goal with the Mexican team and tied Jared Borgetti as the all-time leading scorer.

With the win, Mexico remains undefeated and has seven points after three rounds to take sole command in the six-nation tournament. Costa Rica stays on six points and is second and Panama is third with four.

The top three teams qualified for the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Mexico beat Costa Rica for the first time since September 11, 2012, when they prevailed 1-0.

Running Away With It

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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Christian Pulisic scored and played a part in three other goals as the United States rained goals down on Honduras in a 6-0 win at Avaya Stadium in San Jose early Saturday morning.

Clint Dempsey scored two goals, and Michael Bradley and Sebastian Lletget also scored as the U.S. moved into fourth place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Their next match is Tuesday in Panama.

[ MORE: Player ratings | Three things ]

The United States men’s national team’s bid to recover their 2018 World Cup hopes got off to a flying start.

Sloppy Honduran defending caused a turnover outside the 18, and Jozy Altidore played Christian Pulisic in on goal. Keeper Donis Escober got a piece of Pulisic’s shot, but no one followed Lletget to the back post and the ex-West Ham and current LA Galaxy man quickly put the Yanks up 1-0.

The Yanks didn’t stop, and Lletget drew a yellow card when he beat Ever Alvarado down the right flank and forced a take down from the Honduran defender.

Alberth Elis slipped John Brooks’ mark, and the Houston Dynamo man turned to fire on goal. Tim Howard was well positioned to scoop it up.

Lletget turned out to be injured by the Alvarado foul, and Bruce Arena turned to Alejandro Bedoya in the 17th minute.

Geoff Cameron was given a yellow card in the 25th minute for a foul on Roger Espinoza. That gave a free kick to Honduras from 30 yards out, and Romell Quioto fired right at Tim Howard.

Then it was the captain who doubled the lead, as Honduras inexplicably gave him the room to walk across the arc of the 18 to rip a shot across goal. 2-0.

It was Clint Dempsey’s turn in the 33rd minute, after an otherworldly scooped pass from Pulisic.

What. A. Pass. Kid.

Honduras then took a bigger hit: the loss of star attacker Romell Quioto (Houston Dynamo) to an apparent shoulder injury.

Brooks bailed out an out-of-position Gonzalez just before halftime to keep the lead 3-0.

The Yanks needed 15 seconds to make it 4-0, with Dempsey winning a 50-50 tussle and finding Altidore for a flick to Pulisic. He netted his fourth USMNT goal. He’s 18.

Pulisic then won a free kick 25 yards out from goal by embellishing a foul, and Dempsey’s free kick tricked Escober. 6-0. For real.

A scary moment late as a dazed and wobbly John Brooks was forced off despite no apparent injury. Fox’s Jenny Taft said he was dehydrated, which is a relief.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Brooks (Ream, 70′), Cameron (Zusi, 58′); Bradley, Lletget (Bedoya, 18′), Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore.

Goals: Lletget (5′), Bradley (27′), Dempsey (33′, 49′, 54′), Pulisic (46′)

Player ratings from USMNT’s pounding of Honduras

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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Battered. Throttled. Eviscerated.

Pick your verb of dominance, the United States likely fit it well in a 6-0 destruction of Honduras at Avaya Stadium in San Jose.

[ MORE: Recap + video | Three things ]

The win boosts the U.S. in World Cup qualifying after their 0-2 start, but how did the individuals fare? Obviously well.

Starting XI

Tim Howard — 7 — The team just feels in a safer place with the veteran back there. If the U.S. goes to the 2018 World Cup, Howard remains their No. 1 (and there probably never should have been a question. Sorry Brad).

Jorge Villafana — 7 — Tidy passing and a low-risk game from the Santos Laguna man.

John Brooks (Off 70′) — 7 — An early error before recovering to be his usual free-clearing, athletic self. Scary injury took him out late, as he looked dazed. Fox’s Jenny Taft said he was dehydrated, which is a relief.

Omar Gonzalez — 5  — He wasn’t bad, but Gonzalez is still a positional question mark. Bailed out a couple times by Brooks.

Geoff Cameron (Off 59′) — 6 — Out of position and a bit hobbled, he wasn’t at his best.

Michael Bradley — 7 — One of his better USMNT games in a long time.

Sebastian Lletget (Off 17′) — 8 — Scored, then got hurt on a roasting run down the right.

Darlington Nagbe — 6 — One or two electric moments in the first half, but overall a quiet enough night for the Timbers man.

Christian Pulisic — 9 — Hard to not to hand the kid a 10. He’s quite frankly the most exciting American talent in the history of the program.

Clint Dempsey — 10 — Along with Howard, the sort of player you knew would make sure this game ended with three points. The fact that he nabbed three goals, too, is just a bonus.

Jozy Altidore — 7  — Pretty darn good night holding up the ball, and passed as well as ever, but did he drop a bit too deep too often? The answer is probably, “Who cares? They won 6-0, dude.”

Subs

Alejandro Bedoya (On 18′)  — 6 — Typical high energy, space eating job in the middle of the park from the Union man.

Graham Zusi (On 58′)  — 6 — Good late clearance preserved the shutout.

Tim Ream (On 70′)  — 6 — Interesting to note that Arena went to him over Walker Zimmerman or Matt Besler.