- L.A. Galaxy’s Josh Saunders
Rationale, motive and intent: Despite an advantage in possession, Dallas made the Galaxy keeper work hard in spots. Saunders had five saves in helping preserve his sixth shutout this year.
- Philadelphia’s Ramon Gaddis
- Los Angeles’ Omar Gonzalez
- Portland’s Steven Smith
Rationale, motive and intent: Gaddis made the most of his opportunity, playing in relief of the suspended Sheanon Williams. Gonzalez is moving like he never missed a match, never mind that he did miss about half the season. He helped make Blas Perez’s return to the field for Dallas less than memorable.
Smith was big all night along the defensive left side in Portland’s Cascadia Cup win over Vancouver. He was never bigger than in a second half, athletic goal line clearance. It was probably a game-saver.
- Sporting Kansas City’s Roger Espinoza
- L.A. Galaxy’s Juninho
- San Jose’s Simon Dawkins
- Montreal’s Patrice Bernier
Rationale, motive and intent: Espinoza never stopped running in his team’s 1-1 draw with New York. Juninho was a similar bundle of skillful energy at the Galaxy ran past Dallas. Dunfield looks like a new man under TFC coach Paul Mariner, and the “new man” was big factor in guiding the Canadians to a point over the weekend in Houston.
Dawkins helps make San Jose unstoppable when he’s on his game (and when he scores a couple, as he did in the ‘Quakes’ romp-and-stomp over Colorado). And Bernier has put together an unbelievable season at Montreal; he had two goals and an assist in Saturday’s win over D.C. United.
- Seattle’s Fredy Montero
- Columbus’ Jairo Arrieta
- Columbus’ Federico Higuain (pictured)
Rationale, motive and intent: Montero’s hat trick is impossible to ignore – so we didn’t. The Sounders’ man now has 11 goals in 2012. Arrieta and Higuain had two apiece Saturday in the Crew’s thrilling 4-3 win over New England. And they were spectacular. You can watch them here.