MLS Team of the Week: Mullins, Nyarko Shine in D.C.'s Blowout Win in Week 25
The latest twists and turns of the always unexpected Major League Soccer regular season were created by some unlikely characters in Week 25.
D.C. United made a statement, or as much as a team can make against the lowly Chicago Fire, with a four-goal rout at RFK Stadium to keep them above the red line in the Eastern Conference.
One week after losing to rival Seattle, the Portland Timbers used a four-goal outburst in the first half to bring a little bit of sanity to the ever-changing cast of teams near the red line in the Western Conference.
Week 25 also proved just how hard it is to win on the road in MLS. Toronto and Philadelphia earned wins on their travels on Wednesday, while only Montreal and FC Dallas earned three points on the road during Saturday's action.
Since there were a handful of midweek matches, we took those performances into account along with the weekend ones for the latest Bleacher Report MLS Team of the Week.
Due to the bevy of strong attacking showings over the last seven days, we shaped our latest best XI in a 3-5-2 formation.
Continue reading to see who was named to the Bleacher Report MLS Team of the Week for Week 25.
GK: Nick Rimando, Real Salt Lake
Lately, it seems like breaking records is becoming a weekly occurrence for Nick Rimando.
With his start against Colorado on Friday night, Rimando became the MLS all-time leader in appearances with 418. All of those have been starts, per Real Salt Lake's tweet.
In his historic start, the experienced netminder recorded six saves in the Claret and Cobalt's Rocky Mountain Cup victory over the Rapids.
The win helped Jeff Cassar's men leap over the Rapids for second place in the Western Conference. RSL are now just five points in back of FC Dallas in the race for the Supporters' Shield and the No. 1 seed in the West.
DEF: Fabinho, Philadelphia Union
The Philadelphia Union made a statement with their defense in Week 25 as they picked up six points against Columbus and Sporting Kansas City.
On the way to the pair of wins, the Union back four conceded one goal on five shots on target. It limited Sporting KC to one attempt on goal on Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium.
Left-back Fabinho had a stellar match against Sporting, as he shut down the threat of Graham Zusi on defense and was a lively participant in the attack.
The Brazilian defender was rewarded for his play moving forward in the 67th minute when he handed out an assist on Roland Alberg's brilliant opener.
The six points earned from the last week moved the Union over the 40-point mark and kept them in contention for one of the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference.
DEF: Ronald Zubar, New York Red Bulls
The New York Red Bulls also leaped over the 40-point barrier this weekend with a 1-0 win over the New England Revolution on Sunday.
Center-back Ronald Zubar helped the Red Bulls limit the chances of the struggling Revolution with four interceptions, three clearances and two tackles.
The 30-year-old defender also won a trio of aerial duels against the Eastern Conference foes at Red Bull Arena.
The shutout recorded by Jesse Marsch's side was the first for the club since the July 13 win over Orlando City.
DEF: Ronald Matarrita, New York City FC
Rarely do we put a defender from a losing team in our Team of the Week, but Ronald Matarrita is more than deserving of the honor after his efforts for New York City FC on Sunday.
The Costa Rican full-back made a vital clearance off the line in the 70th minute after Cyle Larin got around Josh Saunders in the box. Matarrita used a full sprint to get to Larin's shot before it crossed the line.
Matarrita put in the same amount of effort later in the second half when he chased down a surging Larin to prevent a one-on-one scoring opportunity against Saunders.
Although the NYCFC defense hasn't received a ton of praise throughout the season, Matarrita's been a bright spot with his skill on the flanks.
MID: Justin Meram, Columbus Crew
Justin Meram continued to be one of the top in-form players in the league over the last month, as he produced a goal and an assist for the Columbus Crew in their 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
The Iraq international set up Ethan Finlay's opener in the 32nd minute when he played a bouncing cross through the box from the right wing.
Meram found the back of the net in the 84th minute from the spot after he earned a penalty in the middle of the box.
Despite losing in midweek to Philadelphia, Meram was active on the ball for the Crew in defeat.
The 27-year-old Michigan native has two goals and two assists in his last four contests.
MID: MIchael Barrios, FC Dallas
After falling behind early in the Texas derby, FC Dallas reversed their fortunes in the second half behind a three-goal barrage.
Michael Barrios scored the final two strikes of the match for Oscar Pareja's side in the 60th and 78th minutes.
Barrios put FC Dallas ahead one minute after Mauro Diaz leveled the contest from the spot. The midfielder latched onto a perfect ball from Maynor Figueroa before chipping a shot past Joe Willis.
Barrios finished off his brace 19 minutes later when he sent a first-touch, curling shot into the right side of the net on the counter.
The brace ended a scoring drought of seven matches for the 25-year-old Colombian.
MID: Kaka, Orlando City
Kaka helped Orlando City keep pace with D.C. United in the race for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a brace against NYCFC on Sunday.
The masterful Brazilian used his pace to set up his opening tally in the 32nd minute, easily rounding Jefferson Mena on the right side of the box.
The midfielder's initial shot was saved by Josh Saunders, but he was able to pick up the rebound and slot the ball into the net from close range at the right post.
The designated player handed the Lions the lead in the 63rd minute when he beat Saunders from the spot after earning a penalty at the top of the box.
Kaka's two-goal showing marked the first time he's scored multiple goals in an MLS match since joining the league in 2015.
MID: Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers
The second portion of Portland's first-half onslaught was led by Diego Valeri.
The Argentinian midfielder played a role in a terrific team buildup in and around the box in the 29th minute before Lucas Melano finished off the move with the third Timbers strike of the half.
Valeri earned his second assist of the contest in the 43rd minute when his free-kick found the head of center-back Steven Taylor.
The 30-year-old ended the contest with a total of four key passes, and more importantly, the Timbers distanced themselves from the Sounders in the race for sixth place in the Western Conference.
MID: Patrick Nyarko, D.C. United
Patrick Nyarko was one of a few players at the forefront of the action at RFK Stadium for the majority of Saturday's 6-2 win by D.C. United.
The 30-year-old midfielder picked up a goal and two assists in the rout of the Chicago Fire that handed Ben Olsen's side plenty of momentum heading into September.
Nyarko's tally came in the 51st minute when he got up in the air to make contact with the ball to beat a diving Sean Johnson.
The win extended the Black and Red's unbeaten run to six matches. However, that streak may come to an end soon, as United begin September with three consecutive road games.
FW: Yura Movsisyan, Real Salt Lake
Two goals in a nine-minute span from Yura Movsisyan powered RSL to three points on a historic night for one of the club's legends.
Movsisyan notched his first tally of the 2-1 win over Colorado in the 39th minute, redirecting a Demar Phillips pass into the back of the net from close range.
Three minutes into the second half, the forward powered a beautiful strike into the upper-right corner of the net from just outside of the box to put RSL in the lead for good.
The strikes were the eighth and ninth of the season for the 29-year-old and his first since July 9.
FW: Patrick Mullins, D.C. United
Patrick Mullins has turned himself into a dominant force up top for D.C. United since his arrival from NYCFC at the end of the summer transfer window.
The 24-year-old forward recorded a hat-trick in D.C.'s rout of Chicago with goals in the 40th, 45th and 74th minutes.
The three-goal performance boosted Mullins' season total to five, all of which have come in a D.C. uniform.
If Mullins continues to light the net on fire over the last two months of the season, D.C. should be in good shape to qualify for the postseason.
GK: Joe Bendik (Orlando City)
DEF: Ambroise Oyongo (Montreal Impact)
DEF: Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United)
MID: Luciano Acosta (D.C. United)
MID: Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders)
FW: Fanendo Adi (Portland Timbers)
FW: Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.