Michel

MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 28

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Week 28 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is in the books, which means it’s time, once again, to sort out our MLS Team of the Week performers.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

First things first, answer me this: how is one to pick and MLS Team of the Week when neither Sebastian Giovinco nor Robbie Keane score a goal in the same week? Do we still do a TOTW in that event? I suppose we will. Thankfully, Kei Kamara stepped up and picked up the other leading MVP candidates’s goalscoring slack with two on Saturday night, bringing his total to 20 on the season.

[ WEEK 28: FCD 2-1 NYC | SJ 1-1 SEA | TFC 1-3 NE | ORL 3-1 SKC | PHI 1-2 CLB ]

Neither of Kamara’s goals would have been scored without the expert crossing of Columbus Crew SC right back Harrison Afful, so he gets the nod, as well. Elsewhere on the backline, the weekend’s only 0-0 draw — LA Galaxy vs. Montreal Impact — provided three standout defensive performances to make up the back four. If you scored an Olimpico goal this weekend, you’re in the TOTW. Come on down, Michel. As for Tesho Akindele, a strike of this quality also does the trick.

Thoughts? Questions? Agreements? Disagreements? (Of course not.) Leave them in the comments section, as always. I’m not afraid to defend my picks.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS Team of the Week archive ]

MLS Team of the Week — Week 28

Goalkeeper: Steve Clark (Columbus Crew SC)

MLS Goalkeeper

Defenders: Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew SC), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Victor Cabrera (Montreal Impact), Dave Romney (LA Galaxy)

MLS Defenders

Midfielders: Adrian Winter (Orlando City SC), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake), Michel (FC Dallas)

MLS Midfielders

Forwards: Kei Kamara (Columbus Crew SC), Tesho Akindele (FC Dallas)

MLS Forwards

MLS Snapshot: FC Dallas 2-1 New York City FC

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The game in 100 words (or less): For 45 minutes on Saturday night, New York City FC were decent value to go into halftime level at 0-0. Thus, they were extremely unfortunate to be down 2-0 when Jason Kreis led his team back out for the second. For the first 20 minutes of the second half, they looked slow, idealess and unlikely to grab a consolation goal, let alone two to equalize. Then, something miraculous happened: star midfielders Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo were subbed off in the 66th minute and NYCFC sprang to life, took total control of the game and very nearly came back to earn a draw. In the end, they fell 2-1 at the hands of FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium. It’s a pretty huge indictment on NYCFC’s big-money veterans, who are 37 and 36 years old respectively, that the whole team’s level rises tenfold once the multi-million dollar superstars are removed from the field to be replaced by Kwadwo Poku and Mix Diskerud. Alas, Kreis will continue to play them week in and week out, because he has little to no choice, as was the case for them being signed in the first place.

[ MORE: Previewing the rest of Week 28 | Week 27 TOTW | POTW ]

Three moments that mattered

45′ — Akindele’s laser makes it 1-0 — As they say, “that ball stayed hit” after it left the foot of Tesho Akindele. FCD play at such a pace that most opposing midfields and defense can’t possibly keep up. At the point where Akindele unleashed this rocket, there were seven NYCFC players in frame on the television broadcast. They were all running toward their own goal.

45’+4 — Michel’s Olimpico makes it 2-0 — There are some great left feet in MLS, but Michel’s might still be the best of the lot, when he’s on the field. Moments before the halftime whistle, the Brazilian whipped in a corner kick that NYCFC failed to put a head to and found the back of the net just inside the far post. Shambolic, Crew SC-esque set-piece defending from NYCFC.

70′ — Grabavoy taken down, PK to NYCFC — Atiba Harris probably didn’t need to make this clothesline challenge on Ned Grabavoy, as the NYCFC midfielder was going to be attacking the FCD goal from a very difficult angle, but that’s doesn’t always matter, does it? He did, it was whistled, and Patrick Mullins converted the ensuing penalty kick.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Michel

Goalscorers: Akindele (45′), Michel (45’+4), Mullins (PK – 70′)

VIDEO: Hugely-controversial call sees FC Dallas past Vancouver in playoffs. Your vote?

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What a cruel, cruel way to decide a team’s season.

World Cup referee Mark Geiger’s decision to award a penalty on a controversial handball in the box sent FC Dallas to a 2-1 win over the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday night in the first playoff game of the MLS season.

With the score knotted at 1 in the 82nd minute, a throw-in bounced into the 18. Dominant Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston is the man in question here, and he appears to keep his arm at his side before trying to put it behind his back as the ball strikes his arm.

[ REACTION: “It was such a soft call.” ]

[ MLS: Playoff predictions/preview | Season-ending awards ]

Geiger doesn’t hesitate to award a penalty, and the rest is history.

Watch it for yourself, and vote in our poll:

This was Geiger’s take, which doesn’t pass the smell test:

Michel converted the penalty past David Ousted, and FC Dallas hung on for the win in an otherwise fast-paced, fun game in Texas.

Tesho Akindele scored the victors’ other goal, while Erik Hurtado netted for the ‘Caps. Dallas moves on to face Seattle on Sunday at 9pm ET in the first leg of the conference semifinals, with the second leg coming Nov. 10.

There were eight yellow cards in the game, the final one coming after the final whistle for “foul and abusive” language by Vancouver defender Sebastian Fernandez, who was all over Geiger (as were most of his teammates).

The Caps had more shots, but FC Dallas carried possession. It looked set for extra time, before controversy struck. Twitter started on fire.

 

The Next XI? Best from MLS’s non-Stars would still be pretty good

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Between active and non-active All-Stars (announced today), 32 of the top players in Major League Soccer get excluded from this exercise. Take out the injured players we’re not allowing ourselves to pick (since that was likely the same restriction facing Peter Vermes and Don Garber), and almost all of the league’s big name get excluded from this exercise.

That exercise? Pick the best Next XI. Choose any formation you want, but you have to be able to justify your pick with more than “I think he can pay that spot.” Other than that, everything’s fair game.

Our XI still doesn’t have room for a number of notable performers, though the likes of Sebastien Le Toux, Nigel Reo-Coker, Brandon Barklage, Diego Chara, and Ned Grabavoy probably deserve some words of praise. Still, at times we went for more than pure first half performance in this one. When things were close, we did weigh things like past performance. It’s all all-star selection, after all.

But with a handful of spots, that kind of tie breaker wasn’t enough to keep some new guys our of our “next XI”:

[GK – 1] Dan Kennedy – With Michael Gspurning out, the Chivas USA man steps in. While Kennedy may not have replicated his stellar form from last season’s first half, he has enough gravitas to justify this pick, though nobody will fault you for wanting Jimmy Nielsen in this spot.

[D – 4] – Chris Klute, Jose Goncalves (pictured), Djimi Traore, Sheanon Williams – Goncalves belongs on the real all-star team, so this was a no brainer. If the Portuguese wasn’t garnering so much attention, more people would be talking about Traoré. Williams’s slow improvement has left him overlooked in PPL Park, while Chris Klute, at this very second, is the league’s best left back. He’s the DeAndre Yedlin of this team, albeit at Seth Sinovic’s expense. We’ll see if the former Atlanta Silverback can keep it up.

[M – 3] – Oriol Rosell, Michel, Marcelo Sarvas –  While some thought Kansas City would take a step back after losing Roger Espinoza (and letting Julio Cesar go), Rosell has brought a different if still highly effective presence to central midfield. Michel has similarly stabilized Dallas, while Marcelo Sarvas has quietly been the Galaxy’s best midfielder.

[AM – 1] – Federico Higuaín – Five goals, six assists, and a big reason why Dominic Oduro’s about to hit double-digits in goals, Higuaín’s the best playmaker that failed to make the all-star team. How he failed to get in there is a good question, but we’re happy to welcome him in our Next XI.

[F – 2] – Alvaro Saborio, Claudio Bieler – Saborio’s time with Costa Rica makes him an easy omission from the festivities at Sporting Park, but coming off a hat-trick in New York, he’s also an easy selection for our XI. The RSL star’s averaging a goal every 108 minutes this year. Bieler was also a straight forward selection, though it does create some interesting questions with our team …

How would Saborio and Bieler work together? Higuaín playing behind two forwards? Would that midfield work?

We’re betting good players find a way to get together, but if not, don’t worry. This team isn’t actually going to play a game together.

Major League Soccer’s mid-season Newcomer of the Year: New England’s Jose Goncalves

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World soccer being such the transient place it is, there are always abundant choices for Newcomer of the Year in MLS, where players come and go like it was taco night in the dorm cafeteria.

This year is no different. And so far, we don’t have a choice that’s obvious as two soccer balls on the field, as we did last year in Columbus’ Federico Higuain.

So, here goes our best effort to sort out this one. (Fifteen rounds of play remain … a lot could happen, including introductions of new players from the summer transfer season.)

My pick is: New England’s Jose Goncalves

First up, you say it “gon-SAL-vez.” I mean, if the guy is going to win a major award, we probably should know how to say his name.

Any way you say it, he’s way up in the conversation. New England was hanging on in matches in the season’s early days even though they needed about three games just to score once. A big part of the reason was Goncalves’ steady work in the back. Even now, New England’s 14 goals allowed is best in MLS.

More than just the body of work at center back, Goncalves is helping tudor some of the Revs’ promising young talent in the back, like rookie right back Andrew Farrell and converted midfielder Stephen McCarthy.

Others to monitor over the final 15 rounds (in alphabetical order): 

  • Vancouver Whitecaps Nigel Reo Coker
  • FC Dallas Raul Fernandez
  • FC Dallas’ Michel
  • Sporting Kansas City’s Claudio Bieler
  • Portland Timber’s Diego Valeri
  • New England Revolution’s Diego Fagundez