MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 6 – Atlanta winger stars in dominant win

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

Week 6 saw plenty of action as 24 goals were scored across eight fixtures. Atlanta United made sure they played their part in contributing to that number, as they beat new boys LAFC 5-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. At the heart of that performance was Julian Gressel. The winger put in an impressive display, scoring the opener and providing an assist – which is why he is MLSGB Attacking Player of the Week. 

It took Gressel just 17 minutes to break the deadlock. The game remained relatively even from that point onwards, up until just shy of the 70-minute mark when Gressel dinked in a perfect cross for Josef Martinez to make it 2-0. The second goal all but sealed it for Atlanta before they went on a three goal-spree in nine minutes at the end of the game.

Much like Atlanta’s performance, Gressel was efficient. He needed just one shot on target to score his goal, while his one chance created was taken by Martinez. His pass accuracy wasn’t overly impressive, however that won’t be seen as much of an issue by the Atlanta faithful.

From the statistical graphic below you can see just how busy Gressel was during the game. A vast majority of his failed passes (red arrows) were either balls into the box or from within his own half – which shows his desire to look to create chances and get his team moving forward. His assist came from a phase of play which every good winger is expected to provide from, getting down to the byline and delivering.

A detailed look at Julian Gressel’s display in the 5-0 win over LAFC (Stats via @StatsZone)

The 24 year old has been a regular in Tata Martino’s side this season, starting all five games. He will be hoping to continue to contribute, although his strike in the 5-0 win was his first goal of the season, he already has three assists, justifying his place in the starting XI.

Don’t miss: MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 6

Next up for Atlanta is a huge game at the top of the Eastern Conference, as they host NYCFC on Sunday evening. Gressel will be looking to continue his good run of early season form and help his side go top of the standings.

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MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 6 – Tim Melia comes up big in record-setting performance

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

There was only going to be one winner of Week 6’s MLSGB Defensive Player of the Week so it will come as no surprise to see Tim Melia as our standout defensive performer of the weekend. The Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper put in a record-setting performance in the 2-0 road win at LA Galaxy. Melia made a staggering ten saves to earn a valuable shutout and help SKC to three more big points.

The 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year made six saves from shots made from outside the box, saving all four of the Galaxy’s efforts from inside the area too. He also completed 35 of his 42 passes.

Sporting Kansas City were the league’s best defence last season by some margin. But there were early concerns this campaign after they conceded nine goals in their first four games. However, Melia has now kept back-to-back clean sheets as the SKC defence begins to look solid once more.

A look at the ten shots Tim Melia saved in the 2-0 win over LA Galaxy (Stats via @StatsZone)

The graphic above shows just how impressive Melia’s goalkeeping was. LA Galaxy peppered his goal with ten attempts for a variety of positions but the 31-year-old stopper would not be beaten.

The one concern for SKC will be the fact they are allowing their opponents so many shots at goal. Melia is currently facing an average of 13 shots per game from opponents, and while not all of those will be on target, he will hope his defenders can start closing down attacks sooner.

Don’t miss: MLS Attacking Player of the Week – Week 6

Sporting KC’s win sees them stretch their lead at the top of the Western Conference to three points. They have made a good start to the season and now prepare for their Week 7 home clash with Seattle Sounders.

MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 4 – RBNY striker makes history

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

Draws were a common theme in a muted round of fixtures during Week 4. Despite four of the six games ending with teams sharing the spoils, there were still plenty of goals and exciting attacking play. New York Red Bulls will feel they had the best result of the week, with a comfortable 3-0 home win against Minnesota. At the heart of that attacking display was Mr Reliable, Bradley Wright-Phillips. He bagged himself a brace in a typically calm performance and that’s why he is the MLSGB Attacking Player of the Week.

BWP was in fine form in front of goal, scoring one in each half, putting his side third in the Eastern Conference. There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said about the Englishman during his time in MLS. However, those two goals mean he has scored more goals than any player in MLS history over a five-year span.

The forward needed just three shots on goal for his brace. He fell short in some of the other areas of his performance in terms of pass completion, but that won’t be much of a concern to the RBNY fans.

Wright-Phillips took his goal tally to three for the season. He laid on just the one chance for his teammates during his 81 minutes on the field.

It was a game of clinical finishing for BWP, which doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. He took his second goal in some style, showing great composure under pressure.

Don’t miss: MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 4

It’s already proving to be a very competitive battle in the Eastern Conference. With quite a few surprise results already being thrown into the mix, the pressure is going to be on forwards like Wright-Phillips to take the chances they are provided with.

MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 4 – LA Galaxy defender stands strong in Vancouver

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

Week 4 might have been quiet in terms of games played as a result of the international break, but one particular performance made a lot of noise. Just three of the 12 teams in actions kept a clean sheet in Week 4, but only one of those came from a travelling team.

LA Galaxy did well to hold Vancouver Whitecaps to a 0-0 draw at BC Place on Saturday night, especially when you consider they only dressed 17 players for the trip as a result of a huge absentee list. The standout performer – both on the night for LA and overall in MLS this weekend – was Daniel Steres. He is the MLSGB Defensive Player of the Week after a commanding display in the Galaxy backline.

As the graphic above demonstrates, Steres was incredible at the back for the Galaxy. He completed 2/2 tackles, 4/4 interceptions and made 11 clearances to help keep Vancouver out. Of those 11 clearances, nine were headed clearances, further highlighting how commanding Steres was, despite having to face off against Kei Kamara.

Steres also won all four of his aerial duels on the night and was effective at distributing the ball to teammates out of defence. The graphic below shows all of his actions during Saturday’s game. He completed 34 of the 41 passes he attempted, with the seven incomplete passes all coming from ambitious long balls down the right-side.

A detailed look at Daniel Steres’ Week 4 performance at Vancouver Whitecaps – Stats via @StatsZone

The green circles above highlight where Steres made his clearances, while the green diamonds show interceptions. Just looking at those alone shows how dominant he was in crucial defensive areas.

The 27-year-old defender sat out of the Galaxy’s first game of the season and only got his chance in Week 2 following the injury to Michael Ciani. However, he has impressed in the 136 minutes he has completed so far, with his first start at Vancouver proving that he does perhaps deserve more starts.

Don’t miss: MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 4

LA Galaxy have the huge derby clash with LAFC to prepare for next. And with Ciani still struggling with a groin injury, Steres will need to come up big to stop the likes of Diego Rossi and Carlos Vela from stealing the show in the league’s first LA Derby between the new rivals.

MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 3 – Montreal defender’s near perfect performance

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

Week 3 saw teams find their defensive edge. Although there was still plenty of attacking action to enjoy, there were six clean sheets from the nine games. With Week’s 1 and 2 providing just three clean sheets combined – there has been an increase in standout performances from the defensive positions.

One man who put in a near-perfect performance was Montreal Impact’s MLS debutant Rod Fanni. The signing of the experienced French centre-back has surprised some, given that he is now 36 but he silenced any doubters in Week 3 and that’s why he is the MLSGB Defensive Player of the Week.. It was a memorable occasion for Montreal, who beat their rivals, and current MLS Cup winners, Toronto in the 401 Derby.

As you can see above, the stats really do speak for themselves. Fanni made four interceptions, which was the second highest on the field. Of his five clearances, four of those were headers, which highlights his impressive timing and ability in the air.

While Fanni made just the one tackle, his passing statistics were very strong. With an accuracy of 94%, the debutant completed 31 of his 33 attempted passes.

An in-depth look at Rod Fanni’s performance in Montreal’s 1-0 win over Toronto FC in Week 3 (stats via @StatsZone app)

The image above gives further support to show just how well Fanni played. Four of his five clearances (green circles) came in the box (two clearances in the six-yard box overlap).

Fanni’s four inceptions (green diamonds) came within the final third of the pitch, where he was key in breaking up Toronto attacks, an area they are particularly dangerous in with long-range shots.

The Frenchman also made nine ball recoveries (green +’s) showing he was quick to snuff out Toronto’s usual dominance in attacking positions.

Don’t miss – MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 3

Fanni has made an impressive start to life in MLS and he will be hoping to put in consistent performances like this on a weekly basis. If he can add that to the Montreal backline they will be in good standing moving forward this season.

MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 3 – Atlanta United star runs riot in big win

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

We’re three weeks into the 2018 MLS season and there is already an early frontrunner in the Golden Boot race. Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez tops the scoring charts after netting a hat-trick in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Vancouver and as a result, he is this week’s MLSGB Attacking Player of the Week. The Venezuelan striker is only 23 games into his MLS career but he has already scored four hat-tricks. Incredibly, he is just one hat-trick shy of matching the all-time league record, currently held by Stern John.

Martinez showcased why he is so lethal, in more ways than one, on Saturday evening. His first goal came from the penalty spot, after Kendall Waston was sent off for an apparent elbow following a long VAR decision just 13 minutes into the game. Then in the second-half, the Atlanta striker raced away on a counter-attack at blistering pace and finished cooly to add his second of the night. His hat-trick came in the 88th minute as he rose high to head home Andrew Carleton’s cross, rounding off an excellent display for The Five Stripes.

Martinez scored his hat-trick off the back of five total shots, while also creating one chance for a teammate. He completed 29 of his 34 of his passes on the night and will be hoping to build on his performance when Atlanta return to action away at Minnesota United in two weeks.

Martinez has now scored 23 MLS goals in 23 games, an astonishing record for a player that had never previously scored more than eight league goals in a season before 2017. He is thriving under Tata Martino’s guidance in Atlanta and is a lethal focal point for one of the league’s most dynamic attacking forces.

You can see a full statistical breakdown of his performance against Vancouver below, which highlights just how much of the field he likes to cover. He looks to drag defenders out of position by coming deep to collect the ball at times, which makes him virtually impossible to man-mark. His explosive pace on the break means Atlanta always have an outlet when defending set-pieces, and that was demonstrated again on his second goal of the night.

A detailed look at Josef Martinez’s display in the 4-1 win over Vancouver on Saturday (Stats via @StatsZone)

Don’t miss: MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 3

Martinez and his Atlanta teammates sit third in the Eastern Conference after three weeks, having picked up six points following two big wins. They opened the season with that shock 4-0 defeat in Houston but have bounced back well in front of their own fans against DC United and Vancouver. They will hope to put in a better display on the road at Minnesota next time out.

MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 2 – NYCFC defender shines on home debut

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

Strong defensive performances were hard to come by in Week 2 as goals flew in across the league. There were a total of 38 goals in the nine games (an average of 4.2 per match) and so this week’s MLSGB Defensive Player of the Week award goes to a defender for his contributions at both ends of the field. It goes to New York City FC full-back Anton Tinnerholm, who opened the scoring on his home debut, helping NYCFC to a 2-1 win over LA Galaxy on Sunday.

The Swedish defender has played every minute of NYCFC’s opening two games, helping the team to two wins. He joined the club on a free transfer this winter, after his contract with Malmo FF expired following the 2017 season. He is the reigning 2017 Allsvenskan Defender of the Year after he played a key role in helping Malmo to win back-to-back titles last October.

And he has seemingly transferred his form to MLS without any trouble. Sunday saw him play at Yankee Stadium for the first time and he made sure he ceased the moment, volleying NYCFC into the lead before helping to stop LA Galaxy from getting anything out of the game as they mounted a second-half challenge.

As shown above, Tinnerholm was influential at both ends of the field. He made three clearances and three interceptions to keep the Galaxy at bay, while completing 47 of his 60 passes. Only three players completed more passes than Tinnerholm in the entire game.

Tinnerholm’s performance was all the more impressive considering he was left in a heap 10 minutes into the game following a tough tackle from Jonathan Dos Santos. The Sweden international appeared to roll his ankle in a nasty looking incident but returned to the action, scoring the opening goal 13 minutes later and lasted the full 90 minutes.

An in-depth look at Anton Tinnerholm’s performance in NYCFC’s 2-1 win over LA Galaxy in Week 2 (stats via @StatsZone app)

The image above demonstrates how good Tinnerholm was for NYCFC down the right side. He was disciplined, rarely venturing deep into Galaxy territory but was effective in dealing with the threat down LA’s left wing.

His three clearances (the green circles) came in vital positions, while his interceptions (green diamonds) also gave NYCFC the opportunity to turn defence into attack in an instant.

Don’t miss – MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 2

Tinnerholm’s performance will have delighted the NYCFC fans and they will hope to see him pick up where he left off when they welcome Orlando City to Yankee Stadium next Saturday.

MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 1 – LAFC stalwart leads by example

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

It doesn’t come as a huge surprise that our defensive pick of the week comes from Los Angeles FC‘s stunning away win over Seattle Sounders. They become just the second expansion side to win their first away game in Major League Soccer history.

LAFC’s 1-0 saw an impressive collective performance. They were clean and simple on the ball and defended well when they didn’t have possession, as well as welcoming a little bit of good fortune at times.

A standout performance at the heart of the LAFC defence came from Lauren Ciman. The 2015 Defender of the Year has plenty of MLS experience under his belt and he remained calm at all times of the game. He made crucial blocks and chose to bring the backline up to press at the right time, while marshalling them to drop back and clear their lines when it was necessary.

How did Laurent Ciman perform in numbers? 

Ciman played the full 90 minutes as you’d expect from a centre half. In that time he made four interceptions to stop attacks, blocked two shots including a close-range effort, made six clearances and held a positive 75% pass accuracy.

His crucial block from a goal-bound Harry Shipp kept the score at 1-0 in the first half, which was a game-changing phase of play. Had Seattle scored at that point to level things it could have swung the momentum out of LAFC’s favour.

https://twitter.com/JogaBonito_USA/status/970434433940643840

Don’t miss – MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 1

Ciman’s performance was exactly what was needed from him as a captain and the LAFC faithful will be hoping to see that continue on a weekly basis. A thoroughly good, history making weekend for the MLS new comers and one for the fans to remember.

MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 1 – Whitecaps winger steals the show

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

The Vancouver Whitecaps made a perfect start to the 2018 season, beating Montreal Impact 2-1 at BC Place in front of the largest opening-day crowd in Whitecaps history. And the 27,837 fans in attendance were treated to an outstanding performance by 17-year-old winger Alphonso Davies. The young Canadian is MLSGB’s Attacking Player of the Week for the opening weekend of the 2018 season after picking up a goal and an assist to fire Vancouver to three points.

Davies linked up well with Whitecaps winter signing Kei Kamara throughout the game and assisted the MLS veteran in the 63rd minute to give Vancouver the lead.

Then, seven minutes later and Davies netted the first MLS goal of his young career, slotting in Cristian Techera’s cross. Evan Bush got a hand to the shot but couldn’t stop it from rolling over the line. Davies wheeled away in celebration, becoming the 10th youngest scorer in league history.

He deserved his goal and showed great attacking intent throughout Sunday’s contest. He completed six of his eight dribbles on the night, emphasising his confidence on the ball as well as the confidence his teammates have in finding him.

Don’t miss – MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 1

Davies is already playing in his third MLS season since making his debut for the Whitecaps as a 15-year-old back in July 2016. He has now made 35 regular season appearances (12 starts), with one goal and two assists to his name. The early signs suggest he could be one of the league’s most dangerous stars in 2018…

MLS Player of the Week: Week 8 – Ethan Finlay

Columbus Crew started the season slowly with just one win in their first five games, but they have now won two on the bounce and look in fine shape, with Ethan Finlay picking up this week’s MLSGB MLS Player of the Week award.

Finlay scored two and grabbed an assist in Saturday’s 4-1 win against Philadelphia Union at MAPFRE Stadium.

The 24-year-old winger has looked good so far this campaign and he’ll be delighted to have picked up his first goals of the season to help the Crew extend their unbeaten run to four.

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They sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, just three points behind New England Revolution and DC United who share the top spot, and face DC in their next outing on Saturday night.

Finlay will hope to pick up where he left off in that game and his statistics from Saturday’s game against the Union make for fine reading.

Ethan Finlay's statistics vs. Philadelphia Union (Stats via WhoScored.com)

Ethan Finlay’s statistics vs. Philadelphia Union (Stats via WhoScored.com)

The pacey American scored from both of his shots, and completed 93% of his passes in a brilliant display that will have filled Crew fans with delight.

Finlay is now second in the MLS assists charts with four, only one behind Sporting Kansas City’s Benny Feilhaber.

The improving Columbus star scored 11 goals with seven assists in 29 games last season but is on track to build on those numbers after a fine start to the season.

What did you make of Ethan Finlay’s performance this week? Did he deserve to be named as MLS Player of the Week?