ASN’s MLS Best XI, Week 5: Alhassan leads an army of Timbers onto Best XI

Posted on 20 April 2011 by Breton Bonnette

Portland stole the show this week with two home games that featured thrills, a rabid fan base, and an atmosphere that garnered worldwide attention. The Timbers delivered for their fanbase, grabbing wins over Chicago and FC Dallas respectively and putting three players on this week’s Best XI. Chad Marshall added another week to make itthree Best XI teams in a row for the big central defender while the Crew found a goal in the second half to sneak by Kansas City. Meanwhile, in New York, a giant may have been awoken as a new striker combination yielded a big result against San Jose.

ASN’s MLS Best XI, Week 5

GK: Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA)

The Goats can’t score and keep Kennedy busy but the one time third stringer is alright with that. He has kept Chivas USA in games and given decent performances week in and week out, even displacing Zach Thornton as the number one in the process. His showing was gamesaving against Vancouver.

DEF: Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles)

Gonzalez and Todd Dunivant had great games for the Galaxy as they were dealing with the absence of two of their three Designated Players. Chad Barrett gave the Galaxy the lead but Gonzalez took matters into his own hands to solidify the win with a resounding header off a Miguel Lopez restart. Leonardo, a Galaxy mainstay in defense so far this season, is confirmed out for the rest of the year so it looks like Gonzalez and Terp teammate AJ Delagarza will likely be the partnership until reinforcements show themselves. Let’s not forget Gonzalez was also front and center in a midweek shutout of Toronto FC.

DEF: Chad Marshall (Columbus)

Early favorite for MLS Defender of the Year, Marshall continues to deliver impressive, confident performances on a Crew backline that was supposed to look a tad weaker in 2011. It’s Marshall’s THIRD selection in a row and if the Crew continue to put up effective defensive performances, he’ll feature quite a bit in the Best XI throughout the season and Columbus should be playoff-bound (if the offense can cooperate a little).

DEF: Danny Califf (Philadelphia)

The solid, reliable play from Califf continued against Seattle.  In addition, he was able to make a couple of the more “flashy” plays at the back usually reserved for Valdes.  Most notably, he got in behind Steve Zakuani at the last moment when the goal-scoring threat almost found himself in against Mondragon in the 20th minute.  The unofficial MLS leader in blocked shots continued to add to his total, as well, continuing to show uncanny anticipation and feel for the opponents’ shooting lanes.  Obviously, his signature play of this match came in the 78th minute when, as he saw play flowing to the weak side, he filled the area directly in front of the goal.  This paid off when a deflection found Alvaro Fernandez mere feet from a goal mouth no longer occupied by Faryd Mondragon, who had dived to deflect the cross.  Instead of an equalizing goal, the shot blasted off of Califf’s shoulder and, at the time, appeared to be a game-saver.  Of course, Seattle did eventually equalize, but that does not detract from Danny’s overall performance. – Sam Toma, ASN Philly

MID: Khalif Alhassan (Portland) *ASN PLAYER OF THE WEEK*

Featured prominently in both of Portland’s home wins this past week dishing out three assists in two games. He’s crafty, dangerous, and not shy on the ball and he displayed consistency throughout the week of fixtures. His near misses and on-the-ball runs were just as exciting as his plays that yielded results. His curler that hit the crossbar against Chicago, his dance through the FC Dallas defense. It was all impressive but if Portland’s going to flourish in its expansion year, Alhassan and company must be able to repeat these performances on the road as well.

MID: Chris Pontius (DC United)

Two goals will land you on a Best XI with no questions asked but Pontius was actually more than that this week. The revelation of 2009 showed himself again after an injury laden 2010 season and chemistry with Charlie Davies is dangerous for any defense throughout Major League Soccer. Both of his goals were finished cooly but he also had a huge impact in drawing the foul that saw Ty Harden sent off in the 49th minute.

MID: Jack Jewsbury (Portland)

The Timbers made things interesting, almost blowing 3-0 leads vs. Chicago and FC Dallas but Jewsbury, the Timbers newly minted captain, wouldn’t let that happen. He’s one of the hardest working midfielders in the league and a great complement to the likes of Khalif Alhassan. The veteran surpassed 200 games in Major League Soccer, celebrating with a goal and an assist vs. FC Dallas.

MID: Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle)

Alonso was everywhere against Philadelphia. Physical, relentless, and aggressive, Seattle’s Cuban pitbull was vital to stopping a Philadelphia offense that showed some life amidst monsoon-like conditions. Alonso has played every minute of every game so far for the Sounders this season and along with Brad Evans, Seattle tends to follow the lead of their midfield.

FWD: Luke Rodgers (New York)

A poacher that apparently doesn’t miss, Rodgers produced a brace and a beautiful assist to Henry in his second Major

Courtesy of

League Soccer start. The bald-headed forward is now being seen as a lock in the Starting XI possibly relegating teenage prospect Juan Agudelo to the bench. He wasn’t flashy, just downright efficient and that is something that the Red Bulls need.

FWD: Thierry Henry (New York)

Hans Backe came out and said that Henry’s showing vs. San Jose was quite possibly the best performance that he has had in a Red Bulls uniform. That’s saying quite a bit and in truth, it probably was. Many pegged him for listless against Philadelphia and he countered that with a goal and an assist against a good San Jose squad. Will the Rodgers/Henry partnership thrive past one game?

FWD: Jorge Perlaza (Portland)

He didn’t follow up his two goal performance midweek with a particularly good showing against FC Dallas but the Timbers still won and Perlaza was involved. The Colombian striker is now firmly entrenched in Timbers history, scoring the first goal at JELD-WEN Field as well as the first home goal. He’s starting to develop an understanding with Kenny Cooper and if all goes right, it could be one that starts to threaten outside of Portland too.

Bench: Carlos Ruiz (Philadelphia), Jamison Olave (Real Salt Lake), Charlie Davies (DC United), Teemu Tainio (New York), Robbie Rogers (Columbus), Hunter Freeman (Houston), Franco Coria (New England), Miguel Lopez (Los Angeles), Rodney Wallace (Portland)


MLS Best XI, Week 4

MLS Best XI, Week 3

MLS Best XI, Week 2

MLS Best XI, Week 1

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