The MLS XI, Week 11: Toronto FC keeps winning; Mother's Day celebration; goals galore

Running down the best of the best from a goal-heavy MLS Week 11, with Toronto FC continuing to win, the LA Galaxy bouncing back and an appropriate Mother's Day celebration.
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For anyone that dare say MLS is a boring league, I direct your attention to this week’s results in the league. In 11 games, there were 41 goals scored, and no scoreless draws. That’s an average of nearly four goals per game! 

Because of that, this week’s edition of the MLS XI is very goals-heavy. Luckily enough, this week’s efforts had the quality to go with the quantity. 

I: Happy Mother’s Day

On Sunday the nation celebrated Mother’s day, and just two days before Kei Kamara and his wife celebrated the birth of their second child. 

On Saturday, Kamara celebrated by grabbing an assist and a goal in the Revolution’s 4–0 win over Real Salt Lake. The celebration after his goal was, in true Kei Kamara fashion, a classic. 

Congrats to the Kamaras, and a (now belated) happy Mother’s Day to all. 

II: Assist of the week

Jozy Altidore has been on a stupendous run of form for Toronto FC, but that means far more than just scoring goals (though he is doing that, too). Saturday’s game against Minnesota United served up a perfect example of the value Altidore brings to the field for Toronto, as he created his team’s winning goal after coming on as a substitute for the injured Sebastian Giovinco. Over the course of this play, Altidore goes from strong, to annoyed, to strong again, to persistent, before finishing off with a ball that’s smart, accurate, and just what Tosaint Ricketts was looking for in helping polish off a sixth straight win (in less than a month's time!). 

If there’s such a thing as a brute-force assist, append video of that play to the dictionary entry. 

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III: Where was all this before? 

Before Week 10, the Philadelphia Union were the laughingstock of the league. The team was winless on the season, its offseason signings weren’t producing and the team looked mentally fragile. 

After Week 11, the Union are riding two straight wins by a combined 7–0 score line, the most recent being Saturday’s 4–0 beatdown of D.C. United in which the Union scored three goals from outside the box, all from players scoring their first goal of the season.

You can see Haris Medunjanin’s opener here and Fafa Picault’s here but we hold special affection for this weirdly beautiful one-timer from Fabian Herbers: 

We’re not sure how he was able to make such clean, accurate contact with the ball given the bounce it was taking, but there’s no arguing with the result. 

IV: Blessing sins

There’s no disguising this hilariously bad dive from Sporting Kansas City’s Latif Blessing: 

Thankfully, Blessing had so much more to offer than that. The Ghanaian, starting in place of the suspended Dom Dwyer (yellow card accumulation) scored both of Kansas City’s goals en route to a 2–2 draw, the first time any team has taken points off Orlando City at its new stadium this season. The goals may not have been impressive, both being tap-ins, but they showed a goal-scoring instinct that can’t really be learned. 

Between those goals and the dive, you might say Latif’s debut was a...mixed blessing? 

*Recuses self from all future Blessing-related puns.*

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V: Justin Meram: Hat-trick hero? 

Raise your hand if you had Justin Meram as a Golden Boot contender at the beginning of the season. If you’re raising your hand, you’re either Justin Meram, related to him or lying. Meram has been an excellent player in MLS so far, but he has never been known as a real volume scorer. That may change after this season, as Meram netted a hat trick in a 3–2 win vs. Montreal.

The whole thing just made him want to sit down.  

Those three goals give him seven on the season, just one behind the leader, Houston’s Erick “Cubo” Torres. 

VI: Tommy Mac, in one goal

Even on a team full of stars, Tommy McNamara is a fan favorite at NYCFC thanks to a perfectly entertaining combination of intelligent skill and pure, sloppy hustle. This goal, scored in Sunday’s matchup against FC Dallas, was 100% the latter. 

That goal gave NYCFC a valuable away point at FC Dallas, which remains the only unbeaten team in the league through its first nine games. 

VII: Alessandrini The Great

The LA Galaxy have had an especially rough couple of weeks, falling to near the bottom of the league on points and in most observers’ league power rankings (like, ahem, ours)

Through it all, DP midfielder Romain Alessandrini has been one of the few bright spots, displaying an industry and savvy that kept the Galaxy from being an outright embarrassment. On Sunday, Alessandrini displayed all that in a team that looked ready to bust out of a slump. Alessandrini scored twice and earned a PK as the Galaxy ended the Red Bulls’ 13-month unbeaten run at Red Bull Arena with a dominant 3–1 win. 

VIII: Almost-goal of the week

What a winner this would have been for David Guzman. 

As it is, Guzman had to settle for an assist in the Timbers’ 1–1 draw at home against Atlanta. 

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IX: You make the call

With Houston up 1–0 on Vancouver on Friday, referee Fotis Bazakos awarded Houston a PK for this: 

Cubo Torres buried the resulting spot kick, and a Brek Shea consolation goal made the final score 2–1, meaning that PK wound up being the winner. But should it have been? 

X: Dribbling on the ground is SO last year 

Just ask Luis Solignac, Nemanja Nikolic, and Brandon Vincent, whose 1-2-3 of aerial touches gave Chicago the third goal in what would become a 4–1 win over the Seattle Sounders. 

XI: Best use of Bitmoji

The Colorado Rapids busted out of their slump in a big way on Saturday, beating the San Jose Earthquakes 3–0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. But perhaps nobody at the stadium had a better day than striker Shkelzen Gashi. 

First, he encountered his likeness via jumbotron during warmups. 

Then he went out and scored two goals. 

And celebrated with everyone’s favorite way to cutely accentuate Snapchats. 

Clearly the keys to Colorado Rapids victories are doppelgangers and digital avatars.