Planet Fútbol MLS Best XI: Week 2
Solid defensive performances were scarce again in the second week of Major League Soccer. Just two teams managed shutouts, and six conceded late goals to lose results. Defenders' best contributions came on the attacking side of the ball, as four of the 19 goals scored last weekend came from center backs.
That trend didn't stop Will Bruin from netting his third goal of the young season, and Erick Torres from scoring while his team was a man down to give Chivas USA a one-goal lead that nearly held up, were it not for Kekuta Manneh's heroics off the bench. Jermain Defoe welcomed the pressure of being Toronto FC's main man in attack, scoring twice in his first 24 minutes on the CenturyLink Field turf to set the tone for the new-look Reds.
Here is Planet Fútbol's Best XI for MLS Week 2:
Planet Fútbol MLS Best XI — Week 2
• Goalkeeper: Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo)
Two shutouts in two games has Hall off to the best statistical start among the league's goalkeepers. A second-week matchup against the Montreal Impact brought the best out of Hall, who made a couple difficult saves, including on a 53rd-minute shot from distance by Patrice Bernier.
• Defender: Víctor Bernárdez (San Jose Earthquakes)
San Jose gave up three goals to Real Salt Lake, so Bernárdez isn't here for his defensive prowess on Saturday; he scored two game-saving goals in the last quarter of an hour, the second of which came in stoppage time. The hulking Honduran defender took advantage of his team's desperate, direct play to get into the box and get on the end of crosses.
• Defender: Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union)
Okugo is one of the most underrated players in the league. Ever since he was converted into a center back from a defensive midfielder, he has become one of the best defenders with the ball at his feet. He completed 91 percent of his passes along with helping the Union keep a shutout in a 1-0 victory over New England.
• Defender: Aurélien Collin (Sporting Kansas City)
Another big body in the penalty area on set pieces, Collin smacked home a header in the 81st minute to give Kansas City a short-lived lead against FC Dallas on Saturday. He got another one on target in stoppage time to nearly win the game, wrestling a defender the entire time.
• Midfielder: Kekuta Manneh (Vancouver Whitecaps)
Until Manneh came off the bench, the Whitecaps could get nothing in the attacking third despite being up a man on Chivas USA from the 13th minute. He provided a change of pace and confidence in one-on-one situations that finally allowed Vancouver to attack. He got his reward when he timed his run perfectly and remained patient to score off Darren Mattocks' cutback to tie the game.
• Midfielder: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake)
The RSL captain is still angling for a spot on the United States roster in Brazil this summer, and steady performances like Saturday's will only help his cause. Besides a long-distance goal we've come to expect from him at least once a season (with his left foot, no less), Beckerman again covered the entire field with both his distribution and tackling, winning 15 loose balls, according to Opta.
• Midfielder: Leo Fernandes (Philadelphia Union)
A last-second addition to the Philadelphia starting lineup who provided the assist on Sébastien Le Toux's game-winning goal, Fernandes partnered well with Maurice Edu in the Union midfield. When Brian Carroll got sick right before kickoff, Fernandes had to step in, and he performed admirably and had a direct impact on the result.
• Midfielder: Mauro Rosales (Chivas USA)
The sluggish Rosales that Seattle Sounders fans grew accustomed to seeing the last two years has vanished, replaced by a creative midfield engine who has played 90 minutes in both of his team's games. After Chivas went down to 10 men on Sunday, Rosales' energy only picked up in the L.A. heat, and his work rate to win a loose ball at midfield and drive forward resulted in Erick Torres' goal.
• Forward: Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo)
The other half of Houston's 1-0 win over Montreal, Bruin needed some luck to score just before halftime, on a deflected shot from 20 yards out. He earned it by finding enough space to get his shot off, and he worked defensively the rest of the night to make it stand up as the winner.
• Forward: Jermain Defoe (Toronto FC)
Defoe only took two shots against Seattle on Saturday, but they both went into the goal. His work rate was constant and enough for him to win eight loose balls (five in the defensive half) and complete 10 of 13 passes in 90 minutes of play.
• Forward: Erick Torres (Chivas USA)
While the visiting Whitecaps struggled with the heat, Torres thrived on it. He scored once and created multiple opportunities the rest of the game, all while playing as the lone striker in a 4-4-1 as his team was down due to Agustín Pelletieri's red card.
Player of the Week: Jermain Defoe
One of the reasons Defoe moved to MLS was to get playing time and have a better chance of making England's World Cup squad. After scoring only 13 times in the last calendar year for Tottenham Hotspur in league, cup and European competitions and for the national team, Defoe was on the fringes of both the Spurs and England teams.
His role at Toronto FC will be the exact opposite, as he will be expected to produce in every game for his new team. He seems to have embraced that pressure. In less than half an hour of MLS play, he scored twice.
At the same time, Defoe has displayed a looseness to his demeanor that suggests he is comfortable in North America. He rolled up to training in Seattle on Friday in a golf cart, sticking his tongue out at photographers as he passed by. His second goalscoring celebration on Saturday was similar, as he ran off with his arms outstretched and his tongue out the corner of his mouth. If he keeps responding to the pressure with goals, he can stick his tongue out at his detractors from the chartered flight to Brazil.