MLS Team of the Week: Nagbe, Adi Hand Portland a Boost During Rivalry Week
Week 17 in Major League Soccer was billed as Rivalry Week. In the five major clashes between rivals this week, the stars of the league rose to the occasion and delivered brilliant performances.
One of the top showings of the week, which began on Wednesday, came from the final match as Portland bested Seattle 4-1 in a Cascadia Cup showdown. Thanks to the play of Darlington Nagbe and Fanendo Adi, the Timbers were able to take three points from the Sounders.
Elsewhere in the league, a young center back handed the New York Red Bulls a magnificent 90-minute shift. and the San Jose Earthquakes received plenty of quality from one of their designated players.
Because a majority of the teams played in two matches in Week 17, we judged some players on their cumulative performance.
Continue reading to see who earned spots in our latest MLS Team of the Week.
GK: David Ousted, Vancouver Whitecaps
David Ousted was tested early and often by the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night.
Ousted left the pitch with eight saves and three points to his name as the Whitecaps pulled out a big road win by a 2-1 score.
The Danish goalkeeper started his terrific day in net in the 11th minute when he sprung to his left and denied London Woodberry. With 10-man New England searching for a late equalizer, Ousted made another key denial on Juan Agudelo in the 86th minute.
When the final whistle blew, Ousted had earned his highest single-game save total since joining Vancouver in 2013.
RB: Chance Myers, Sporting Kansas City
In his first start since May 23, 2014, Chance Myers delivered plenty of quality on the right flank for Sporting Kansas City.
The 27-year-old defender made countless runs forward against the Colorado defense and was rewarded for his play with an assist on Krisztian Nemeth's 32nd-minute goal.
"Coming into this game I was a little bit more – obviously nervous, but excited to get the competition going and just challenge myself," Myers said after the match, per MLSSoccer.com's Steve Brisendine.
Myers' return came at the perfect time for Sporting KC, which has won three of its last four league matches. If Myers continues to find a rhythm on both ends of the pitch, Peter Vermes' side will continue its jump up the Western Conference standings.
CB: Matt Miazga, New York Red Bulls
Matt Miazga turned in the best defensive performance of the weekend for the New York Red Bulls in their 3-1 Hudson River derby victory over New York City FC.
Miazga limited David Villa and the NYCFC attack to few chances in the first half before the Red Bulls took over the match during the final 45 minutes at Yankee Stadium.
On top of his stellar play at the back, Miazga recorded the first goal of his MLS career in the 73rd minute, when he nodded in Sacha Kljestan's free-kick at the far post.
"A major goal of mine was to help him establish himself within our group. He's talented man. He's got a lot of ability and now it's turning a young man into a man, into a pro, into a real center back. He's making big strides this year. We know he's only going to get better from here," Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said, per the club's website.
CB: Victor Bernardez, San Jose Earthquakes
The San Jose Earthquakes pulled off one of the more shocking results of the weekend, as they downed the LA Galaxy 3-1 at Stanford Stadium in the California Clasico.
Center back Victor Bernardez played a major role in silencing Robbie Keane's impact on the match from the first minute on. The three forwards the Galaxy used combined for one shot on target over 90 minutes.
Bernardez made seven tackles, six clearances and two interceptions in San Jose's seventh victory of the 2015 season.
LB: Robbie Rogers, LA Galaxy
Before the Galaxy saw their tremendous form end on Saturday, they defeated Portland 5-0 on Wednesday night.
Robbie Rogers netted the third of five goals at StubHub Center on a shot from the left side of the penalty area in the 33rd minute. The goal was the first for the left back since signing with the Galaxy in 2013.
"When I did finally score this game, I didn't think I would be as emotional. I didn't think it would have the impact it did have on me," the openly gay Rogers, who scored on Pride Night at StubHub Center, told the media (h/t the club's website) after the win.
Despite falling to the Earthquakes on Saturday night, Rogers still produced a decent shift with five clearances and four interceptions for the fourth-place team in the West.
RM: Olmes Garcia, Real Salt Lake
Before you read about Olmes Garcia's strong week in the Real Salt Lake attack, you should watch the goal above as many times as you can.
Garcia finished off one of the best set-piece goals in world football in recent memory in the 36th minute of RSL's 2-2 draw with the Columbus Crew.
The 22-year-old was the only RSL attacker to record two shots on goal in Saturday's draw, which came three days after the club suffered a rough loss to the Red Bulls.
Over the last few matches, Garcia and the rest of the RSL attack have proven the Claret and Cobalt will be just fine with Alvaro Saborio off at the Gold Cup playing for Costa Rica.
CM: Collen Warner, Toronto FC
While his teammates were earning plenty of praise for their play in attack, Collen Warner was busy doing the dirty work in midfield for Toronto FC in Week 17.
In Wednesday's 3-1 win over Montreal, Warner made four interceptions and completed 91.1 percent of his 56 passes. The 27-year-old thrived more in the 0-0 draw with D.C. United on Saturday as he made five tackles and two interceptions against one of the most experienced sides in the league.
Warner's influence on the match in midfield will grow in the coming weeks with Michael Bradley off to the Gold Cup. If Warner can sustain the high level of play he displayed in Week 17, the Reds should be able to earn close to 12 points during the four-game stretch Bradley is expected to be away for.
CM: Matias Perez Garcia, San Jose Earthquakes
The 2014 summer acquisition of Matias Perez Garcia is finally starting to reap rewards for the San Jose Earthquakes.
Perez Garcia delivered two assists to Chris Wondolowski and Clarence Goodson in the club's 3-1 win over rival LA on Saturday night.
The Argentinian has been nothing short of dominant in the last two games, and it looks like he will be a player opposing defenses will have problems stopping for the rest of the year.
If his strong play in the middle of the final third continues, the Earthquakes should be able to work themselves into one of the six playoff spots in the West.
LM: Darlington Nagbe, Portland Timbers
Those who haven't watched Nagbe closely this season got a firsthand look at his impact on the Timbers' attack during the Cascadia Cup clash with the Sounders.
Nagbe finally broke his scoreless run that dated back to October 25, 2014 in the 12th minute with a thunderbolt of a strike from the center of the pitch.
The electric attacker also dished out his third assist of the year on Adi's 74th-minute goal. The 24-year-old ended the match with four key passes and a pass-accuracy percentage of 90.6.
"When he does that, you can’t stop him,” Portland captain Will Johnson said, via Dan Itel of MLSSoccer.com. “You can try, but you can’t. You can foul him, but their guys start picking up yellow cards and he was able to break through."
FW: Fanendo Adi, Portland Timbers
Adi pounded a pair of strikes into the back of the net during a three-minute span in the second half to propel Portland to a 4-1 win over Seattle on Sunday.
On his first goal in the 74th minute, the Nigerian forward one-timed a Nagbe pass into the top-right part of the net. In the 76th minute, Adi rocketed a shot past Stefan Frei to seal three points for the Timbers.
The goals were the 16th and 17th of Adi's young MLS career. Fourteen of the 17 strikes have come in two-goal games.
FW: Kei Kamara, Columbus Crew
Kei Kamara kicked off Week 17 with a brace in the Crew's 2-1 win over New England on Wednesday. Three days later, the Golden Boot leader produced his third assist of the year against RSL.
Kamara knocked in his 11th goal of the season in the fourth minute to equalize the Eastern Conference showdown with New England. The Sierra Leone international then produced the winner in the 50th minute thanks to Ethan Finlay's ninth assist.
The Columbus forward returned the favor in the 62nd minute of Saturday's match at Rio Tinto Stadium, as he earned an assist on Finlay's equalizer.
GK: Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)
RB: Chris Duvall (New York Red Bulls)
CB: Kevin Ellis (Sporting Kansas City)
CM: Michael Bradley (Toronto FC)
CM: Gaston Fernandez (Portland Timbers)
CM: Juninho (LA Galaxy)
FW: Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.