Scott Caldwell

MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 15

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Week 15 of the 2015 Major League Soccer season is in the books, and though there were only five games over the weekend — what international window? — we weren’t short of standout performers, or goals, on Saturday and Sunday night.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Week 15 MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

David Villa showed Saturday night that, when healthy, he’s still going to be a destructive force to be reckoned with (1 goal, 1 assist), while his NYCFC teammate Kwadwo Poku was busy leaving his fingerprints all over the game despite playing just 15 minutes (1 goal, 1 assist). Elsewhere, Diego Fagundez bagged the undisputed Goal of the Week, and Robbie Rogers was a handful going forward and could have scored a time or two from the left back position.

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 15

Goalkeeper: Stefan Frei (Seattle Sounders)

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Defenders: Andrew Farrell (New England Revolution), Robbie Rogers (LA Galaxy), Aurelien Collin (Orlando City SC), Chad Marshall (Seattle Sounders)

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Midfielders: Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution), Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew SC), Scott Caldwell (New England Revolution), Kwadwo Poku (New York City FC)

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Forwards: David Villa (New York City FC), Lamar Neagle (Seattle Sounders)

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MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 8

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As I wrote late on Saturday night, this week’s Major League Soccer action — that of Saturday night, in particular — was incredibly special from an entertainment standpoint — 20 goals in four games!!! — which means picking the Week 8 MLS Team of the Week was an extremely tall task.

First things first, when four games average five goals per game, how do you select just seven attacking players to fill out the midfield and forward lines? Furthermore, where do you find three (at a minimum) defenders and a goalkeeper? Let’s just say, thank you, Sunday, for returning this crazy league back to normalcy.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Week 8 MLS coverage | Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

As I said already, Saturday night was the place to be, if goals are your thing. Six of this week’s seven attackers (six, because it’s time to give Scott Caldwell some love on the week that he scored his first MLS goal) played on Saturday night. Jozy Altidore, he of two goals scored and Player of the Week consideration, was the lone shining light from Friday and/or Sunday.

Kei Kamara has five goals and two assists already in 2015 after one of each on Saturday night, while Giles Barnes bagged his third and fourth goals of the season against Sporting Kansas City, who were extremely lucky when Benny Feilhaber’s “plasma rocket” found the back of the net in Houston. And then there was Ethan Finlay, who we’ll probably talk about much more in one hour.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS Team of the Week archive ]

MLS Team of the Week — Week 8

Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik (Toronto FC)

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Defenders: Chris Tierney (New England Revolution) Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Bobby Boswell (D.C. United)

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Midfielders: Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting Kansas City), Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Scott Caldwell (New England Revolution)

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Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Kei Kamara (Columbus Crew SC), Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo)

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MLS Snapshot: New England Revolution 4-0 Real Salt Lake

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The game in 100 words (or less): Week 8 of the 2015 season will go down as the week that the beasts of the East — Columbus Crew SC and the New England Revolution — rose to prominence and dominance. The New England Revolution were already the cream of the crop last year, then they added Juan Agudelo in the winter and we all thought, “the sky’s the limit for these guys.” On Saturday night, Jay Heaps’ Revs reminded us just how dominant they were down the stretch in 2014, and how quickly they’ve matched and improved upon that nearly a quarter of the way through the 2015 season. Meanwhile, Real Salt Lake are just not scary, and I stand by my bold prediction that they’ll miss the playoffs this year.

[ RECAPS: Two games on Friday night ]

Three moments that mattered

39′ — Tierney curls one in…with his right foot — We know Chris Tierney has one the best left foots in all of MLS — he showed that much time after time during the Revs’ run to MLS Cup 2014. What we didn’t know, though, was that he could curl and place a ball in the back of the net just as efficiently — and stunningly — with his right foot.

43′ — Agudelo cleans up the rebound, makes it 2-0 — Charlie Davies’ initial shot was saved by Jeff Attinella, but Juan Agudelo made the simple late run into the back, covered the back post and was rewarded with a simple tap-in into an open net.

50′ — Davies gets in on the scoring fun — Davies was pretty obviously offside, but what’ she supposed to do? Not score when the opportunity presents itself? Scott Caldwell delivered the pinpoint ball into the box and Davies redirected masterfully past Attinella.

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

Man of the match: Scott Caldwell — The man just keeps the Revs ticking and ticking and ticking got the first goal of his career, in the 84th minute, but it’s everything else the 24-year-old does — sweeping up in front of the defense, launching quick counter attacks and recycling possession as well as anyone in MLS — that make his contributions so vital as the Revs gear up for another MLS Cup run.

LINEUPS

New England Revolution: Shuttleworth, Woodberry, Farrell, Jones, Tierney, Dorman, Caldwell, Bunbury (Rowe 68′), Nguyen (Neumann 80′), Agudelo, Davies (Fagundez 62′)

Goals: Tierney (39′), Agudelo (43′), Davies (50′), Caldwell (84′)

Real Salt Lake: Attinella, Beltran, Maund, Vasquez, Phillips, Beckerman, Stertzer (Pecka 56′), Mulholland (Mansally 81′), Gil, Saborio (Sandoval 58′), Garcia

Who is the most underrated player in MLS? MLS stars weigh in, but who’s your pick?

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Have a quick watch of the above video from MLSsoccer.com, in which a number of Major League Soccer stars name the player they think is most underrated in MLS, and let’s have a conversation about underrated players and who deserves some love.

[ READ: PST’s 2015 team-by-team MLS previews ]

There’s shouts for Will Johnson, Chris Rolfe and Scott Caldwell, among others, from some of the guys in the league. Caldwell is definitely an underrated guy, as he’s the one that allows Jermaine Jones to do Jermaine Jones-like things. Johnson has been a stellar player for years now, but gets plenty of recognition.

In my opinion, one of the most underrated players in MLS 2014 was Benny Feilhaber. When people think of Feilhaber, they think of the playmaker, the classic No. 10, the fact that his career maybe hasn’t reached the heights that it “should’ve,” given his ability to do this.

[ MORE: Now that it’s happening, MLS’s 20th season is sure to be the best one yet ]

But, I’ll tell you this: Benny Feilhaber, circa 2014, was a version of the most technically-gifted American player that I never thought I’d see — fit like a marathon-sprinter, industrious, box-to-box midfielder making his impact felt on every blade of grass. He was easily Sporting Kansas City’s best player last year (all due respect to Dom Dwyer and his 22 goals), but few people noticed his contributions in a less glamorous role, a la Caldwell. With proper help in the midfield once again, Feilhaber should be in for a(nother) monster year.

He’s also still capable of doing things like this, which he did in preseason.

Who’s that underrated guy on your team, or any other team in MLS, that you appreciate every time you watch him play, but feel like no one else ever does?

How does Jermaine Jones help the New England Revolution’s attack?

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Jermaine Jones signed with the MLS and was allocated to the New England Revolution over the Chicago Fire in a random draw. And despite the controversial way of assigning Jones to a specific team, many will ponder his actual impact in MLS, and where he fits with the Revolution specifically.

Obviously, as would be the case with other MLS squads with few big-name DPs, Jones will be the best player on the Revs, no doubt. Jerry Bengtson, the Revolution’s lone Designated Player, was loaned out to Argentine side Belgrano at the end of July. He wasn’t able to address one of New England’s positional needs: a dynamic forward.

Regardless of what happened to Bengston, the Revolution’s central midfield has become a main point of emphasis because their depth at the forward spot can allow Heaps to rotate more freely. Charlie Davies has been grace with decent form, and Patrick Mullins had a notable spell earlier in the year.

In the center midfield, Scott Caldwell and Andy Dorman exist as the two major guys, but Caldwell, while a solid player, doesn’t bring the sort of attacking prowess and consistency that is necessary to boost the Revolution to the top of the Eastern Conference table.

Dorman was put on the disabled list with a sprained MCL in early August, and even though he’s fairly steady in the central midfield, that spark and creative ability to place the offense into scoring positions doesn’t really come to fruition.

The Revolution have playmakers on the team. Lee Nguyen shows his skills time and time again. When Diego Fagundez is playing well, his timely passing can provide the Revs with notable scoring chances. Also, Kelyn Rowe can function in a similar way.

But as MLS Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle explains, a “field general” is precisely what the Revolution lack majorly. And with Jones capacity to play through well-aimed long balls, control the pace of play and sweep past players near the middle of the pitch, he fills a gap for Jay Heaps’ squad.

Jones could possibly have enough of an influence to have the Revs make the playoffs by a decent margin.