MLS Week One: The Best XI, Worst XI and Team of the Week

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Week one of the 2009 Major League Soccer season had all the drama, skill and excitement you could hope for from the first week of a season.

Yes, sure, there were some bad moments, and some sparse crowds, and some poor officiating in key spots, but there was far more positive to focus on. From the stellar performances of established MLS veterans like Landon Donovan and Amado Guevara, to the stunning showings of MLS newcomers such as Fredy Montero and the 2009 MLS Draft class, there was plenty to talk about (More on the MLS rookie class later today). Then there were the goals, with several Goal of the Year candidates already being delivered in the first week.

In what will become a weekly segment, SBI will take a look at the Best XI and Worst XI moments/scenes/performances/developments from Week 1, as well as providing an MLS Team of the Week.

Here are this week's Best XI, Worst XI and Team of the Week:

Week One Best XI

The performance of Seattle Sounders' fans

Fredy Montero's deadly finishing and passing

Osvaldo Alonso's stellar MLS debut

Davy Arnaud's two stunning goals

Amado Guevara's two clutch goals

Paulo Nagamura's unexpected brace

Guillermo Barros Schelotto's last-minute equalizer

Kenny Cooper's long-range blast from midfield over Jon Busch

Cuauhtemoc Blanco's last-minute free kick goal

Ben Olsen making the start for D.C. after his injury-plagued 2008 season

Landon Donovan's two goals, including a clutch equalizer, vs. D.C. United

Week One Worst XI

The Red Bulls' entire performance on Thursday

Zach Thornton's goal-mouth blunder

San Jose's (and specifically Darren Huckerby's) terrible finishing

Kelly Gray's poor clearance on New England's lone goal

Jon Busch's nightmare on Kenny Cooper's goal

The horrible field at Robertson Stadium

Dwayne DeRosario's shanked penalty kick (in an otherwise stellar game)

Kosuke Kimura's failed clearance turned pass to Paulo Nagamura

Jair Marrufo's penalty call in the DC-LA game

The nasty collision between D.C. defenders Greg Janicki and Devon McTavish

SBI MLS Team of the Week (Week 1)

————–Fredy Montero——-Landon Donovan———-

Dwayne DeRosario—–Amado Guevara——–Davy Arnaud

————–Paulo Nagamura—-Osvaldo Alonso————

Jim Brennan————–Wilman Conde——-Kevin Alston

——————————Kasey Keller———————–

Honorable Mentions: Jhon Kennedy, Brad Evans, Sebastien LeToux, Justin Mapp, Shalrie Joseph, Guillermo Barros Schelotto.


What were your Best XI and Worst XI moments/scenes/performances from Week One? Who made your MLS team of the week that didn't make ours? (And yes, I did change two of the Best XI to include Landon Donovan and Ben Olsen, who were clearly deserving.)

Share your thoughts below.

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77 Responses to MLS Week One: The Best XI, Worst XI and Team of the Week

  1. K1p says:

    Ching and Wondolowski’s give and go goal was pretty sweet too. Agree about the field. Pathetic.

  2. sammysounder says:

    I think Le Toux’s going to get his name mentioned a lot more than people expect.

  3. sean monaghan says:

    Woot Woot,I had Donovan as my captain,Montero on my team,Brennan,Cummings and kevin hartman gave me points with that penalty save!

    Im 14th in the SBI league and 161st in the nation,not bad so far considering this is my first Fantasy year.

  4. Allegre says:

    I agree with you sammysounder. I think Le Toux deserved a lot of the credit for upsetting Osorio’s plan for the game. He sure showed up for the game!

  5. jay says:

    why kasey keller is in the top 11,he didnt do much for most of the game?

  6. JB says:

    Also for this weeks gaffes. The DC United PR people who told a supporters group that the team was moving if the stadium in Maryland deal doesn’t get passed.

  7. Ives says:

    Jay, Keller made two clutch saves to keep the score 2-0. If Kandji or Rojas score on their shots it is suddenly 2-1 and things can chance in a hurry.

    That, coupled with it not being a great week for goalkeepers otherwise, is why he got the nod. Now, if someone wants to make a good argument for somebody else let me know. I know Reis also got a clean sheet but Keller had tougher saves to make than Reis, who benefited from San Jose shooting terribly. I almost went with Onstad but went with Keller instead.

  8. Joe says:

    I’m assuming you meant the fantom hand ball that went against DC, not the classic Dema-mugs-someone call that went for DC.

    How about a worst XI for Tomy Sohen’s decision to play two men down instead of sending someone in right away to shore up his D while two of his guys were bleeding. And a second mention for Jair for not stopping the game faster with two men down.

  9. VPjr says:

    Adrian Serioux was outstanding for TFC in his regular season debut for his hometown team.

    He didn’t play very long for KC but the Argetine Hirsig (#10) looked like he’s going to be able to bring a level of creativity to KC’s attack that they don’t appear to have with the starting 11 that they trotted out against Toronto on Saturday night.

    that PK call in LAG’s favor on Sunday was absolute crap. A ref who makes that kind of mistake needs to be fined or suspended or something. He singlehandedly cost DCU 3 points.

  10. Josh says:

    Ah, MLS is back. Time to reset SBI as my homepage!

  11. arkjayback says:

    Personally, I think the match between Seattle and New York provided a valuable lesson: there’s talent to be had in the USL. Both teams had a few former USL players, but everyone is worrying that MLS is expanding too fast. Yet everyone forgets that there’s a pretty good league with a ton of talent that wouldn’t mind playing in MLS.

    Its just the responsibility of MLS teams to scout them properly.

  12. arkjayback says:

    And a video of Seattle’s debut: link to

  13. Michael Vann says:

    I have to say it was impressive first week of the season. Too much praise to go around which is definitely a good thing. I hope it continues. All of Best XI Ives mentioned are all worthy of their accolades. The guy on the list that caught my eye was Osvaldo Alonso. He’s got that Gattuso like pit bull mentality. Alonso maintained tidy possession, kept things flowing, and had some crunching well timed tackles. He was a beast. I saw him twice last year playing for the Charleston Battery and I knew he wouldn’t be there long. The guy is good. We will see it over the course of the year.

  14. Nick G. says:

    arkjayback, you should have put keller’s saves in the video. Your videos never give enough love to goalkeepers.

  15. jspot says:

    no love for ben olsen? FOR SHAME IVES!!!!! he is an MLS institution.

  16. The AMT says:

    Can we add the phantom handball that gifted the Galaxy a crucial penalty to the Worst XI?

  17. Unoriginal Aaron says:

    Whoa, Ives. Donovan makes your TotW but his two clutch goals are Bext XI worthy? Reason why?

  18. Jared Montz says:

    Loved Kenny Cooper’s goal, that is big time. When I saw the shot I knew where he was on the field and the camera angle was tight so at first I thought he was just playing a ball over the top and then I realized he shot it. Great goal. Just to attempt that takes guts, but pull it off and you can call it a world class goal!

  19. MVK says:

    ? DeRo? i wasnt impressed with him at all, his assist was a product of rookie Zusi being on the field. He was the least dangerous of any of TFC’s front 5

  20. jensph says:

    Seattle put on a great first home game. In the above picture even the Seattle security guy is smiling. I never saw security enjoy themselves at Giants stadium, except when harrassing fans.

  21. pslong9 says:

    While Blanco’s free kick was great, Sala’s positioning was terrible. I thought that would be worthy of the worst of the week.

  22. Eugene says:

    I think Toronto looked solid. Their only real problem was starting with a rookie goalkeeper. Should have started their veteran. I don’t think any goalkeeper could have stopped the first one from Arnaud though. Otherwise TFC looked dominant over KC, a very good team in their own right. TFC will be very hard to beat this year.

    A couple of teams looked a bit unlucky. SJ and FCD both played well but had shots go off of posts. I think both of them will do much better despite losing their openers at home.

    Osvaldo Alonso is getting too much credit for NY having an awful game. I’ll believe the Seattle hype if their form continues. I think NY underperformed and that indicates to me that they’ll be snapping back to their potential pretty soon, even if not next weekend.

  23. MVK says:

    Zusi needs to be on worst for his MLS debut, he was horrible

  24. EDB says:

    As odd as it might sound.. I think Mapp should be in the top 11 .. was definately the best player for chicago. Also, Conde looked to be playing as a D-mid for much of the game in a 3-5-2 rather then a center ful in a 4-4-2

  25. Tony says:

    What an awesome opening weekend. Tons of excitement and some really quality goals. Sure some crowds were small but averaging up around 16k is pretty darn good with the economy in shambles. And man Montero is a beast!!

  26. matt C says:

    Does Conrad of mystical powers. His prediction last week of De-Ro missing a PK came real close. He did miss one, but not at BMO field at Jimmy predicted. Strange though, that the miss came against Jimmy’s team. ..hmm

  27. Chase says:

    Just as a neutral spectator of the SSFC-NYRB game, I have to throw out the performance of Kevin Goldthwaite for Worst XI considerations. I know he is covered on the omnibus NYRB one, but his hideously poor performance (one of the worst individual ones I have ever seen) has to get special mention…

  28. madmax says:

    Worst hair moment.
    The ‘big hair’ sub on DC United who gave LA Galaxy winger a minute or two to pick out Landon.

    Berlitz language drop outs.
    Demo and Frankilin for continuing their conversation as they let Pontius walk in for shot and goal.

    ManU imposter Michael Harrington who thinks he’s Paul Scholes and runs around with his arms extended.

  29. WK says:

    Quakes had terrible finishing all around- Huckerby, Weaver, and Campos!! i think it was just a blip- they’ll start making those regularly, i hope…

  30. kpugs says:

    I resent Keller being in the team of the week. He had one or two very good saves but in the end the Red Bulls were so terrible he barely had to move. Kind of like a guy in baseball DHing and getting 4 walks with no runs scored or RBIs and getting player of the game honors.

  31. HIncha Tim says:


    I’d be interested on your take on soccer and the PNW now that you’ve finally experienced it firsthand (although you didn’t make it to Portland).

  32. ALEX says:

    Most of the ball were directed to Dane Richards on the first half of the game.They just forget Kandji on the left wing.The game open up on the second half when Osorio put Kandji up front

  33. Thomas513 says:


    As someone who witnessed goldwaithe in action, I must agree. He was badly outplayed, picked up a silly yellow card, and was during for breath for the last 20 minutes. I felt bad for the guy (at least after we scored the third).

  34. John says:

    Worst XI: SI Writer Hunter Freeman’s article this week. I am convinced that he did not actually watch the LA-DC game.

  35. Thomas513 says:

    I meant “dying for breath”

  36. Gene_SF says:

    San Jose’s # 25 is a actually a nice little player, with good potential (even though he blew a chance at the tying goal right in front of the Rev’s goal).

  37. CD says:

    why is keller in there?

  38. dave says:

    what crowds were “sparse”?

  39. SoccerManiac says:

    What the heck it’s keller there?

  40. arkjayback says:

    Nick G – I definitely wanted to put Keller’s saves in there, but with what I was trying to do with the music, I couldn’t make it fit. It was a short song so I was really pressed for time.

    As far as not giving love to keepers, I try to give Howard and Guzan as many highlights as possible. Believe me, the next one with club highlights will have a ton of Howard’s saves. But no GK that is truly still in the national team picture does a whole lot outside of Howard.

  41. Timmy U says:

    Compared to the other 5 in Seattle’s front six, Jaqua did not play well. He seemed lost at times about how to connect with his support. There might be a bit to much hype for Brad Evans five-hole goal on Cepero, but the accolades for Montero, Alonso, and Le Toux are well deserved. Keller’s clean sheet was a function of the Red Bulls disfunction and Seattle’s constant attacking possession and two decent saves. Lets see if they can match that performance again this week.

  42. KajaGooGoo says:

    Last week when I bumbled across Ives’ Newcomer 11 list, as a Sounders fan I too was a bit skeptical.

    link to

    Impressive numbers from a few teams this weekend.

  43. brant says:

    My highlight of the weekend was Christopher Sullivan being assigned to call the Chivas-Colorado game instead of the Crew-Dynamo game. I was able to watch Columbus play on FSC without having to hear “es”-Schelotto for 2 hours. :)

  44. This Guy says:

    Why the Revs Nyassi?

    All I saw was alot of diving out of him.

    I believe Convey will break out next week. He started to loosen up in the 2nd half.

  45. beckster says:

    Add to Best – Bennie Olsen going 75 minutes and producing one perfect pass after another

    Totally agree with you on Pontius’s goal – just terrific for the rookie and the Janeki/McTavish collision.

  46. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Huckerbee’s finishing? There was far worse finishing from his teammates – particularly Campos who had an unbeleivable miss on a perfect cross from Huckerbee.

  47. DC Josh says:

    A downside to the opening weekend is the unavailablity to see highlights of all the games and know what is going on. Having multiple soccer channels sucks because there is no post-game show with all of the scores and highlights, unless I force myself to stay up until 10:30 to watch it on FSR.

    MLS is expanding, but they are putting no money into getting their product out to the public.

  48. Skinn says:

    MVK: You’re drunk still, have another. DeRo was a talisman. He and Guevara and Robinson were outstanding. And Cronin was very good too.

    Eugene: Frei started because Sutton is carrying a hand injury. Perhaps he would have started anyway. It matters not that he is a rookie; he impressed in camp, and may very well have earned the job. And it would have been an outstanding save on either blast from Arnaud (not just the first), even if your name was Cech or Casillas.

  49. Hopper says:

    I was really hoping the opening day crowds for the rest of the teams this weekend would be better. Really, not one sellout besides Seattle? I saw a lot of empty seats in all the games. Looks like my Sounders will lead the league in attendance this season with no problem. Sad.

  50. bkupp says:

    I thought the pk against DC was deserved. No hand ball, but in the same sequence the defender took the players legs out sweeping for (and missing) the ball.

  51. JB says:

    I think the attendance dropoff is due to MLS’s two smallest stadiums both having home games on the opening weekend. Kansas City and San Jose were only in the 10000 vicinity, the other crowds were a more normal 15-18K.

  52. Matt Mathai says:

    Er, Brant, you’re aware that “es-schellotto” is how the man pronounces his own name, right?

  53. jloome says:

    Agreed on DeRo, he was a monster all day. Totally lifted the team, as did Guevara, and Cronin looked like a real veteran, very cool.

    Serioux should’ve made this first XI (but hey, I’m biased). He had a dominating, dominating performance at centre half, cleared away just about every ball into the box, closed quickly and didn’t allow space, wasn’t beaten even once.

  54. Kevin says:

    “Landon Donovan’s two goals, including a clutch equalizer, vs. D.C. United”

    Oh, that’s funny, because one was on a PK called because apparently Rodney Wallace’s hands extend to his crotch, and the other was offside by about 10 feet.

    Nah, the MLS doesn’t want LA to win or anything. That would never happen. I mean, Refs let the game continue all the time when one team loses 2 players due to nasty, bloody head wounds. Clearly, a Ref would NEVER allow a sub or allow one of those players back into the game while playing 9×11 , leading to a BS PK. That is definitely the most fair way to play a game.

  55. Srose says:

    Donavan had a terrible game! He got a horrible call for a PK then a confused DC defense after the ref gave no time to recover from that collision. The rest of the game, he was nowhere to be seen! Arena said Landon will get better once he gets in shape! Hasn’t he been in Germany getting game ready?

  56. elmatador says:

    Bakare Soumare should be in the best XI, I went to the game and sat right in front of him, he’s a beast!! great player, nothing goes pass him…too bad he passed on the US.

  57. joel says:

    Arnaud’s long distant strikes were exceptional.

  58. Martin Blank says:

    I’m glad Le Toux is starting to get some cred. I don’t think it’s just a matter of him being new and not getting enough respect from the other team. He will continue to impress and give the fullbacks in MLS fits. With Montero up top, Nyassi on the other side and Ljungberg pulling the strings in the middle, there won’t be enough cover to deal with them all. Get used to seeing his name on the team of the week sheet.

    Also, for all the abuse Rossi and Neven have taken for not joining the MNT, Le Toux is a foreign-born player who I remember saying would love to don the US jersey one day. More performances like this (and a passport) and he may get his chance.

  59. SW says:

    Hopper, KC was announced as a sell out and so was San Jose. You can’t sell more than you have even if it is a pitiful amount to begin with. Enjoy your first year when everything you do is better than what others can.

  60. Frank says:

    I think KC recorded a sellout as well.

    By the way, GBS’s goal was not exactly a last-minute equalizer.

  61. RonS says:

    Re Keller in the GK spot, one thing that stands out in the video is Keller right after his second big save at 61′. He was shouting instructions and gesturing to one side of his defense, then the other side. After that, NY never threatened Keller’s goal again during the final half hour. Give Keller points for veteran leadership at that critical moment.

  62. joe momma says:

    Don’t worry Hopper. Toronto would easily break your attendance levels in a larger stadium.

  63. DGinLA says:

    Mike Magee looked like crap. No wonder Bruce Arena took him out. DC should’ve won that game though. To be honest both teams looked crappy….

  64. Darkman says:

    Ives, just letting you know that No.3 is missing in the power rankings.

  65. Chris says:

    The economy is cratering. Why wouldn’t attendances drop (except in Seattle)?

  66. art says:

    Most surprising performance: Kevin Harmse makes it all the way through a game for TFC without hurting anyone or earning a yellow card.

  67. JP says:

    Actually you don’t have Ben Olsen in your MLS Best-11. You have DeRo, Alonso, Nagamura, Amado, and Davy Arnaud in the midfield.

  68. Andre` says:

    Gotta call you out on something Ives.

    I wouldn’t call Cooper goal from midfield a chip at all. It was a blast that beat Busch from 55-yards. ridiculously amazing. That’s a shot, no chip. you don’t put that much force behind a chip, and chip’s do not go that fast. they usually go over a goalkeeper. Busch got beat to the upper left corner. he wasnt even caught off his line really. he was there. he got beat by the sickest shot i’ve ever seen in general. That was a shot.

  69. CrispyST3 says:

    Will you guys quit complaining, my boy landon would have probably made two goals anyways, i can already see a 20+ goal season, him and Fredy Montero, and Kooper right behind them

  70. Kevin says:

    Funny joke, CrispyST3. There is no way in hell Landon Donovan should have scored 2 goals yesterday. Maybe he’ll get 20 this year; I really don’t care. But he did not deserve EITHER goal yesterday, especially the first.

  71. smokeminside says:

    Maybe Bradley will call in Cooper now.

  72. R S L says:

    RSL is going to win in Seattle.


  73. sammysounder says:

    2-0 Seattle

    Hurtado eats Movsisyan with Chips and Salsa.

    Le Toux and Montero

  74. Skinn – thanks for saving me from answering those two comments.

  75. Supsam says:

    I thinks its more like “specifically Cam Weaver” rather than Darren Huckerby. Oh man did Weaver miss a sitter that would have hella changed the game.

  76. Supsam says:

    oh yea i like this new segment this season. Hope you continue it Ives

  77. Bolivar says:

    seattle looked soundly.
    Tfc did the dero. guevara finished them off
    Kc .. Arnaud has a laser of a kick
    Redbulls continue to look for an identity, with so many new players it might take awhile to figure them out.
    Columbus .. schelotto is your saviour
    LA.. well they are just LA and without pretty boy.
    Chicago. I think they have found the promised land.
    Chivas.. stay healthy or eigtherwise
    N.E .. again we can always find inspiration in them, seem to dig deep and win.
    RSL. a must wait and see approach. but on paper they look good.
    the rest were average if not subpar to what was expected..