MLS Team of the Week: BWP, Villa, Kaka Headline Week 23's Best

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 15, 2016

MLS Team of the Week: BWP, Villa, Kaka Headline Week 23's Best

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    Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

    Week 23 in Major League Soccer belonged to some of the top scorers in the league.

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, David Villa and Dom Dwyer were among the players who found the back of the net on two occasions over the weekend. 

    In addition to a few big performances at the forward position, a good amount of midfielders also put their names on the scoreboard more than once. 

    Due to the plethora of solid attacking in Week 23, we set up our Bleacher Report MLS Team of the Week in a 3-4-3 formation.

    Continue reading to see who else was named to our best XI from the weekend. 

GK: Tim Howard, Colorado Rapids

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    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Tim Howard was immense between the pipes for the Colorado Rapids in their 1-1 road draw with the LA Galaxy. 

    The United States international made five saves at the StubHub Center to hand Pablo Mastroeni's side a vital point in the Western Conference playoff race. 

    Howard started his strong night in the 11th minute, when he made himself big in the middle of the box to stop an incoming Gyasi Zardes. The summer acquisition didn't have to make any more spectacular saves for the rest of the match, but he did what was required to earn a key point on the road. 

    The draw was even more important to Colorado because FC Dallas was held to a tie at home on Saturday by Sporting Kansas City. 

CB: Jalil Anibaba, Houston Dynamo

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    Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    The Houston Dynamo haven't had much to celebrate in 2016, which is why Sunday's 1-1 draw with Toronto FC was a big deal. 

    Houston went down to 10 men right before halftime but held the dangerous Toronto attack to one goal despite playing down a man for the entire second half. 

    Jalil Anibaba played a key role in earning the draw at BBVA Compass Stadium, as he made an acrobatic clearance off the line in the 89th minute.

    In addition to his impressive play at the end of the match, the 27-year-old made five clearances, three interceptions and three tackles and blocked two shots. 

CB: Richie Marquez, Philadelphia Union

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    Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

    The Philadelphia Union finally broke out of their poor form on the road on Saturday with a cohesive 4-0 win over the New England Revolution.

    Center-back Richie Marquez helped the Union back line quiet the Revolution attack, as the hosts recorded just four shots on target, one of which significantly challenged Andre Blake in the Philadelphia net. 

    The 24-year-old also found the back of the net in the 54th minute, nodding in a shot from close range at the left post. The strike was the second of the season for Marquez. 

    Saturday's win handed the Union a massive boost in the Eastern Conference playoff race, as it placed them four points back of leaders New York City FC, who only picked up a point on their travels in Week 23. 

CB: Steve Birnbaum, D.C. United

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    The other crucial win in the Eastern Conference playoff race came from D.C. United on Saturday at RFK Stadium. 

    United States international Steve Birnbaum opened the scoring for the Black and Red off a corner kick in the seventh minute. Birnbaum benefited from a flick-on header by fellow center-back Bobby Boswell. 

    The 25-year-old also made four interceptions, three tackles and two clearances on the defensive end of the field while holding the Portland Timbers to three attempts on goal. 

    D.C.'s victory combined with New England's loss moved United above the red line in the East with 27 points. 

RM: Ethan Finlay, Columbus Crew

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    Ethan Finlay's heroics in the closing stages of the Columbus Crew's 3-3 draw with NYCFC boosted the sinking morale of the club.

    The American midfielder earned a controversial penalty, where little contact was made in the box, in the 80th minute and proceeded to slot home what appeared to be the game-winner. 

    With time winding down in second-half stoppage time and the Crew down by a goal, Finlay found himself in space near the left post and cleaned up the remnants of a free kick to level the contest in the final minute. 

    Although they showed plenty of fight in earning a point at home, the Crew's winless streak was extended to 10 matches. Their last victory came on May 28 against Real Salt Lake. 

CM: Sean Davis, New York Red Bulls

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Plenty of praise has been heaped on the veterans of the New York Red Bulls this season, but the young stars of the club are also chipping in when called upon.

    Sean Davis produced a solid 90-minute shift in the middle of the park on Saturday in the club's 3-1 win over the Montreal Impact. 

    The 23-year-old provided a pair of assists on the Red Bulls' first two goals, which were scored by Bradley Wright-Phillips, and he notched the final strike of the match in the 46th minute. 

    If Davis continues to contribute like he did in Week 23, the Red Bulls will have a valuable weapon off the bench when Dax McCarty returns from his injury. 

CM: Nicolas Lodeiro, Seattle Sounders

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    The impact of summer acquisition Nicolas Lodeiro continues to be felt by the Seattle Sounders. 

    The 27-year-old midfielder contributed a goal and an assist in the Sounders' 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake at CenturyLink Field that got the club's playoff quest back on track. 

    Lodeiro opened the scoring in the 24th minute, cutting in front of a defender to link up with an Andreas Ivanschitz cross from the left wing. 

    Fourteen minutes after his opener, Lodeiro played the role of provider on Jordan Morris' headed strike. 

    The former Boca Juniors man made a game-high 100 touches and dished out six key passes in addition to his contributions to the scoresheet. 

LM: Kaka, Orlando City

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    Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

    Kaka turned in one of his best performances of the season on Sunday, as he picked up a goal and an assist in Orlando City's 2-2 road draw with the Chicago Fire. 

    The Brazilian mastermind dipped in a beautiful ball for Cyle Larin on the Lions' equalizer in the ninth minute. The assist was the seventh of 2016 for the 34-year-old and his second in two games. 

    Kaka put Jason Kreis' side ahead in the 32nd minute, as he used a quick reaction to follow up Larin's shot off the left post. 

    Unfortunately for the Lions' playoff hopes, they conceded in the 78th minute to drop two key points in the race for the final Eastern Conference postseason position. 

FW: David Villa, New York City FC

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    One of the best combinations of Week 23 came from Andrea Pirlo and David Villa at Mapfre Stadium.

    Villa pulled down a perfectly lofted ball from Pirlo on the right side of the box in the buildup to his 84th-minute equalizer. The Spaniard added to the high amount of skill on the play, controlling the ball with his foot before slotting it into the left side of the net. 

    Before Finlay equalized the contest late in second-half stoppage time, Villa put the visitors ahead with a spot kick in the 93rd minute. 

    The draw boosted NYCFC's league-best road record to 6-4-3, and Villa moved into a tie in the Golden Boot standings alongside Sebastian Giovinco with 15

FW: Dom Dwyer, Sporting Kansas City

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    Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Dom Dwyer bagged his third brace of the season and second in four matches in five minutes on Saturday night. 

    The English forward struck the roof of the net from close range in the 68th minute to move Sporting Kansas City level with FC Dallas. 

    Five minutes later, Dwyer displayed superb concentration and skill as he volleyed his second strike of the night into the net from left to right. 

    Despite conceding late to FC Dallas, Peter Vermes' side picked up a valuable point at the fortress of the Western Conference leaders. 

FW: Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Bradley Wright-Phillips reached a major milestone on Saturday night, becoming the top scorer in New York Red Bulls history with his brace against the Montreal Impact. 

    The first goal of the night for the Englishman came one minute after Ignacio Piatti started the scoring for the Impact in the 21st minute. 

    Wright-Phillips cut into the box in the 22nd minute to connect with Sacha Kljestan's beautiful pass, and he got just enough on the shot to roll the ball into the right side of the net. 

    The striker moved into first place on the club's all-time scoring list in the 41st minute with a header from the middle of the box. The goal moved him ahead of Juan Pablo Angel with 59 regular-season goals. 

Bench

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    Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

    GK: David Bingham, San Jose Earthquakes

    CB: Daniel Steres, LA Galaxy

    LM: Chris Pontius, Philadelphia Union

    LM: Justin Meram, Columbus Crew 

    FW: Jozy Altidore, Toronto FC 

    FW: Maximiliano Urruti, FC Dallas

    FW: Cyle Larin, Orlando City

              

    Joe Tansey covers MLS for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JTansey90.

    All statistics obtained from MLSSoccer.com and WhoScored.com.

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