MLS Team of the Week: Trio of Earthquakes, Galaxy's Keane, Dos Santos Feature
As playoff desperation began to sink in across Major League Soccer in Week 25, a few clubs decided to make things interesting in the push for the postseason.
Riding the annual wave of Dominic Kinnear late-summer momentum, the San Jose Earthquakes shocked us all by winning two matches on the road against Sporting Kansas City and D.C. United by a combined 7-0.
However, San Jose wasn't the only side in the Western Conference to marvel us with a ridiculous result, as the LA Galaxy plowed past New York City FC 5-1 on Sunday in front of an international audience.
Due to the magnificent individual performances from both California sides, who meet in the final regular-season California Clasico on Friday night, five players from the two teams earned spots in the latest MLS Team of the Week.
Joining the California-based quintet in our 4-3-3 formation are two superstars of the league and a few defenders who popped out of relative obscurity and delivered strong matches in times of need.
Continue reading to see who was named to our MLS Team of the Week from Week 25.
GK: Clint Irwin, Colorado Rapids
The match that mattered the least to the playoff race produced one of the top goalkeeping performances of the weekend out of Clint Irwin.
The Colorado netminder made four saves in a rare road win for the Rapids, who took the lead at Toyota Park in the first minute on a Dillon Serna goal.
Colorado's 1-0 win broke a three-game losing streak and helped Irwin earn his first shutout in four matches.
RB: Saad Abdul-Salaam, Sporting Kansas City
One of the few positives to come out of the disappointing week for Sporting Kansas City was the play of Saad Abdul-Salaam in the 3-2 loss to the Columbus Crew.
The rookie defender allowed Marcel de Jong to open the scoring at Mapfre Stadium in the 14th minute after he made a strong run down the right wing.
The 23-year-old also impressed in the defensive half of the pitch as he limited Justin Meram to one shot on goal and 37 touches in 63 minutes.
CB: Kendall Waston, Vancouver Whitecaps
While the Galaxy were busy making a statement in front of another big audience in Week 25, Vancouver continued to fly under the radar in the Supporters' Shield race with a 1-0 win over FC Dallas.
Kendall Waston, who returned from a one-game suspension, was massive at the back against the likes of Fabian Castillo, Blas Perez and Michael Barrios. The 27-year-old Costa Rican made nine clearances and held the dynamic FC Dallas attack to two shots on goal at BC Place.
"Every player to a man gave absolutely everything for me," Vancouver manager Carl Robinson said after the victory, per the club's official website.
CB: Victor Bernardez, San Jose Earthquakes
Before we lay a ton of praise on the San Jose attack for their output in Week 25, we need to commend the back line led by center back Victor Bernardez.
The more impressive individual showing from the Honduran came at Sporting Park on Wednesday as he recorded seven clearances, four tackles and three interceptions.
The pair of wins put San Jose level on points with Seattle in the race for the final playoff position in the Western Conference.
LB: Demar Phillips, Real Salt Lake
Real Salt Lake remained alive in the Western Conference playoff race with a 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night. Although there is still plenty of work to be done, RSL laid the foundation for a run at the top six in the West with the dominant capture of three points.
The RSL back four thrived against the Obafemi Martins-led Sounders attack as they allowed just one shot to test goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
At left back, Demar Phillips produced the best defensive showing of the night in his duel with Andy Rose, Thomas and Lamar Neagle. The 31-year-old totaled seven clearances and seven interceptions in RSL's eighth win of the year.
AM: Diego Valeri, Portland Timbers
Diego Valeri helped turn a potentially brutal loss at home into a respectable 2-2 draw in which the Portland Timbers erased the Houston Dynamo's two-goal lead in the second half.
With time running out, Valeri delivered a perfect ball to the feet of Lucas Melano, who equalized the contest in the 86th minute with his first MLS goal.
On top of his assist, Valeri was dangerous in the final third all night at Providence Park as he handed out four key passes and attempted four shots while making 51 touches.
CM: Michael Bradley, Toronto FC
Michael Bradley was nothing short of tremendous in Toronto FC's 5-0 thrashing of Orlando City to open up Saturday's MLS slate.
Bradley picked up three assists in the rout, which was the biggest win for the Reds in their 280-game history, per ESPN's Paul Carr.
In the 46th minute, Bradley carved apart the Orlando City defense with a splendid run down the left wing to set up Marco Delgado for the opener. Bradley earned his second assist on a one-two with Sebastian Giovinco that led to Justin Morrow's 71st-minute tap-in. In the 85th minute, Bradley used a free kick to connect with Robbie Findley, who nodded the ball over to Jozy Altidore to cap the scoring.
Not only did the victory hand the Reds a ton of confidence, but it also kept them within close distance of the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the Eastern Conference. Toronto enters Week 26 five points back of the New York Red Bulls and four behind Columbus.
AM: Shea Salinas, San Jose Earthquakes
The pace of Shea Salinas let San Jose send shock waves through MLS early in the win over Sporting KC. Salinas' bursting run down the left in the third minute opened up space for Cordell Cato to slot home the first of his two goals at Sporting Park.
With a three-goal lead in hand, Salinas combined with Cato in the 58th minute on a similar play that once again saw the hosts leave acres of space on the left side of the pitch.
Salinas' week went from good to great in the 52nd minute against D.C. as he knocked in his second goal of the season following some great individual work by Quincy Amarikwa in the middle of the field.
The productive week was a nice wake-up call for Salinas, who entered Week 25 with one goal and two assists to his name this season.
FW: Chris Wondolowski, San Jose Earthquakes
Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and Chris Wondolowski scoring over 10 goals in a MLS season.
Wondolowski broke into double digits for the sixth consecutive season with three goals in San Jose's two victories, including an unlikely brace on the road against Sporting KC. His 10th goal of the season came from the spot in the 17th minute on Wednesday night, while he netted his 100th strike as an Earthquakes player with an athletic header in the 61st minute.
The United States international extended his scoring run into Saturday as he provided the Earthquakes with an early lead by way of a fifth-minute shot from the right side of the box.
"It’s a huge accomplishment, but I think it just shows … we’ve never given up. We have the same mentality. It’s just nice to finally get some results to keep us going and push ahead," the forward said, per MLSSoccer.com's Geoff Lepper.
In his six full seasons with San Jose, Wondolowski has scored 98 regular-season goals in 167 matches. He scored three times in 2009 after joining the club from Houston.
FW: Robbie Keane, LA Galaxy
For the fourth time in eight weeks, Robbie Keane leads the line in our Team of the Week.
In Week 25, Keane bagged a brace for the second consecutive match and extended his scoring streak to four games in the Galaxy's 5-1 win over New York City FC.
Keane opened his account on Sunday with an audacious chip over NYCFC goalkeeper Josh Saunders in the 54th minute, and he tapped in his second off a Robbie Rogers pass in the 81st minute.
In addition to his pair of strikes, Keane also assisted on Gyasi Zardes' 34th-minute opener and Giovani dos Santos' 67th-minute goal.
FW: Giovani Dos Santos, LA Galaxy
It's scary to think the combination of Keane and Dos Santos might have better chemistry than Keane and Landon Donovan had in the LA Galaxy attack over the last few years.
Dos Santos benefited from his cerebral connection with the Republic of Ireland international on two of the Galaxy's five strikes at StubHub Center on Sunday afternoon.
On Keane's first goal of the match, Dos Santos set him up with a beautiful pass from the right wing, while Dos Santos benefited from Keane's passing ability in the 67th minute.
Dos Santos ended the match with four shots on target and three key passes. If the Galaxy's hot streak of form continues, we could see those totals get higher each week.
“I’m getting better. I know my teammates better every single day. I’m working hard every day so I think we are having fun every single game and that is good for the team," Dos Santos said, per the club's official website.
GK: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes)
LB: Robbie Rogers (LA Galaxy)
CM: Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes)
CM: Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew)
CAM: Javier Morales (Real Salt Lake)
FW: Lucas Melano (Portland Timbers)
FW: Quincy Amarikwa (San Jose Earthquakes)
Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @JTansey90.