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ASN’s MLS Best XI, Week 8: Rookie takes honors after big performance for the Reds

Posted on 11 May 2011 by Breton Bonnette

It was an odd week in Major League Soccer. Defenders continue to snuff out the impact of the league’s attacking all-stars (Marcos Mondaini of Chivas USA took out Javier Morales of RSL this past week) and it feels like the league as a whole was punished. On Saturday, when Morales went down with a broken ankle, five out of seven games that day finished in a tie of the 0-0, 1-1 variety. The best game of the week – a tie between Los Angeles and New York – could only muster two goals between the star-studded casts of each side. Regardless, new attacking talent still made itself known in a 5’3″ rookie, inserted to help a struggling Toronto FC squad find the net and he delivered.

ASN’s MLS Best XI, Week 8

GK: Kevin Hartman, FC Dallas

Hartman delivered when called upon and for Dallas that was the second half. The veteran netminder – remember all that drama between Kansas City seasons ago? – stonewalled Charlie Davies not once, but twice, to keep a clean sheet at RFK Stadium. His shot stopping ability, never disputed, made sure the Hoops could leave the Nation’s Capital with their unbeaten streak intact (2-0-1).

DEF: Josip Mikulic, Chicago

Helped to limit Vancouver’s target man Eric Hassli and the whole Whitecaps attack to only one attempt on goal. In the process, the Fire’s back line secured their first shutout of the season only to watch to their attack squander chance after chance. The Fire settled for a tie but Mikulic is showing signs of being the consistent defensive presence they need to build a long-term solid defense off of.

DEF: Mamadou “Futty” Danso, Portland

Danso, a standout last year in USL Division 2 play, supplied the Timbers only goal late in their tilt against Philadelphia. It proved to be the only goal Portland would need as they won their fourth consecutive regular season home game, 1-0. The big Gambian got on the end of a Jack Jewsbury set piece to make sure the Union left JELD-WEN without a point. This is his first selection on the Best XI.

DEF: Heath Pearce, Chivas USA

His move to centerback has done wonders for a Chivas USA backline that was leaking goals early in the season. Faced with a little less than 60 minutes of 9-man soccer against Real Salt Lake of all teams, Pearce held the Goats’ defense together only conceding with three minutes to go. It’s Pearce’s second selection in the Best XI since his move to centerback.

DEF: Tim Ream, New York

Made key plays in the back against a strong Los Angeles side. His most important, however, was a goal-saving, line clearance on Landon Donovan that kept the Galaxy from winning all three points. Ream’s partnership with Marquez is quickly becoming one of the best in the league and the prospect of Ream allows Marquez to take more chances in the tackle.

MID: Will Johnson, Real Salt Lake

Johnson gets the nod for finally punishing a 9 -man Chivas USA squad that, in losing to Mondaini and Boyens through red cards, thought they could escape with a point. Johnson did much more than just scoring the gamewinner but after watching Javier Morales lose his whole 2011 season to an atrocious Mondaini tackle, the home crowd wanted punishment and Johnson delivered.

MID: Andy Najar, DC United

It was the Josh Wolff/Charlie Davies show midweek against Seattle but they cooled off during the weekend encore vs. FC Dallas. Najar was effective in both games and starting to show signs of a return to 2010 season form. He was more than just two secondary assists against Seattle. Early on, things weren’t working and the youngster adapted. Against Dallas, he was the most dangerous person on the field.

MID: David Beckham, Los Angeles

Go through it all again – pinpoint long balls, great vision, tireless work ethic. Beckham’s move to central midfield has been the best move Bruce Arena has made all season and it showed against the Red Bulls. It was Beckham’s corner kick that found the head of Landon Donovan – of all people – to equalize for the Galaxy. Gave Juan Pablo Angel quite a few chances to put the Galaxy ahead and end his scoring slump but the Colombian wasn’t able to convert. Surprisingly, this is Beckham’s first selection in the Best XI so far this season.

Courtesy of MLSSoccer.com

FWD: Joao Plata, Toronto FC *ASN’s PLAYER OF THE WEEK*

‘Carpe diem’ must be Plata’s mantra as the diminutive forward was given a chance and  hewasted no time in making his mark on Toronto FC’s starting eleven. One start, one goal, one assist. Not bad for a young Major League Soccer career. Plata scored in the 50th minute on a penalty kick and supplied the through ball that iced the win for the Reds. He’s technically gifted, pacy, and creative – a combination that Toronto FC only really had in DeRosario. Can Plata keep it up?

FWD: Thierry Henry, New York

Scored the first goal of the game – his fourth of the season – and was dangerous throughout. Henry didn’t waste any time announcing himself to the Galaxy faithful, scoring a goal in the fourth minute. The Frenchman started slow this season but he has since started chipping away at the expectations that all Red Bull fans have for his time in New York. This is Thierry’s third selection in the Best XI this season.

FWD: Charlie Davies, DC United

A budding partnership is developing between MLS vet Josh Wolff and Charlie Davies as they connected to sink Seattle midweek. Davies, however, could have walked away with more than just one tally – missing on several opportunities to add to the scoreline. He slowed down a bit against FC Dallas but his showing against Seattle was enough to warrant his 2nd appearance on ASN’s Best XI.

Bench: Kasey Keller (Seattle), Juninho (Los Angeles), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Bouna Coundoul (RBNY), Nick LaBrocca (Chivas USA), Julian De Guzman (Toronto FC), Servando Carrasco (Seattle), Perry Kitchen (DC United), Josh Wolff (DC United), Ugo Ihemelu (FC Dallas)


MLS Best XI, Week 7

MLS Best XI, Week 6

MLS Best XI, Week 5

MLS Best XI, Week 4

MLS Best XI, Week 3

MLS Best XI, Week 2

MLS Best XI, Week 1

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