Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls – New York’s broadcast has talked about this on air, but the key to Wright-Phillips’ rise has been his fit with Thierry Henry. His single-minded commitment to patrolling the penalty area has provided a perfect complement, making the most of the attention his play-making partner draws. On Saturday, Wright-Phillips scored his seventh, eighth, and ninth goals of the season, nearly snagging another Player of the Week honor.
We could be wrong about: Mark Sherrod (Houston Dynamo), Patrick Mullins (New England Revolution)
Harry Shipp, Chicago Fire – Two rookies are among our reserves up top, but this first year pro claims a place in our Best XI. Thanks to three goals and an assist against New York, Shipp also snared our Player of the Week award.
Brad Davis, Houston Dynamo (pictured) – Quietly, Davis had an very good week, one that was overlooked because Sunday’s game against Real Salt Lake was played 10-on-11. Thanks to Davis, however, the game seemed like an even strength affair until Houston’s legs went late. Between an assist on Wednesday’s winning goal and another helper against RSL, Davis had the numbers to support his case, but watching him play, you see he’s taking All-Star form into Palo Alto.
Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake – Another controlling, occasionally dominating performance from Morales overcame our bias against selecting players who play against 10. Two of the RSL midfielder’s three goals came against a full strength Dynamo, while the rest of his Sunday showed why he deserves greater consideration in early Most Valuable Player discussions.
Diego Fagundez, New England Revolution – There he is! We’ve been looking for last year’s Diego all season. On Saturday, we found him. With two first half goals flashing the finishing that pushed him into double-digits last year, Fagundez finally got onto the scoresheet. Consistent production from last year’s leading scorer could lift New England from upstart challenger to true contender.
Matias Laba, Vancouver Whitecaps – If there was one non-scorer who had a case for Player of the Week, Laba was it. He recorded an astounding 10 tackles head-manning Vancouver’s defense against the Crew. The Whitecaps only won 1-0, but thanks in part to Laba, the team generated enough open chances to take a four-goal result out of Columbus.
We could be wrong about: Jose Mari (Colorado), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Diego Valeri (Portland), Andy Dorman (New England Revolution)
A.J. DeLaGarza, LA Galaxy – His most valuable position is in the middle, he started the season on the right, but on Sunday in Portland, DeLaGarza made his contributions on the left. Key clearances in the ninth and 31st minutes were the highlights of the versatile defender’s strong performance.
Victor Bernardez, San Jose Earthquakes (pictured) -It was a difficult call between Bernardez and partner Clarence Goodson, who (at times) seemed the better candidate. He also assisted on Cordell Cato’s goal. But Bernardez was actually the more prolific of the duo, recording 15 clearances as San Jose defended its lead against Dallas’s man advantage. Add in Bernardez’s contributions to Wednesday’s shutout of Colorado, and the Honduran international gets the spot.
David Horst, Houston Dynamo – How can a player whose team gave up five goals be part of the team of the week? The answer is simple: By playing really, really well. Expect for one moment in Sunday’s game against RSL, Horst was his typical very strong self – somebody who has out-performed last year’s Bobby Boswell. The one time he made a mistake (allowing Javier Morales a chance on the counter), he also recovered to stifle the chance. Having also lead his team to a midweek shutout of Columbus (along with Tally Hall), Horst gets this spot.
Darius Barnes, New England Revolution – For a team that thrived after dispossessing Seattle, Barnes was involved in a number of first half turnovers at the edge of New England’s penalty area. In a three-minute span between minute 18 and 21, Barnes either created or contributed to five changes of possession. Between him and Andrew Farrell, Seattle was stunted drifting left after the match’s first moments.
We could be wrong about: Michel (FC Dallas), Farrell, Bobby Burling (Chivas USA), Dan Gargan (LA Galaxy)
Jon Busch, San Jose Earthquakes – Busch’s week: Two games, one goal allowed off the cross-bar, and a save on Blas Perez that made the highlight reels. Bobby Shuttleworth, however, made a similar save early in New England’s game against Seattle (recovering, attacker hit the ball right at the keeper). What really set Busch apart was his combined play over 180 minutes since Wednesday, a stretch that gives us a reason to tout a slightly underrated contributor.
We could be wrong about: Shuttleworth.