Welcome to the first ever edition of the ICS Western Conference Team of the Week! Each week, we will be publishing our picks for the best XI of the Western Conference, according to our Player Rating methodology, which you can read more about here. Below is a copy of the formation, and a more in-depth look at each player.
Best XI - Week 1
GK: Joe Kempin, Los Angeles Galaxy II: 4190 pts
Kempin helped lead Los Dos to a shutout win over fellow MLS-2 side Vancouver Whitecaps 2. With five saves to go along with a punch and catch, nothing got past Kempin in the first week of USL play.
DF: James Kiffe, Sacramento Republic: 3501 pts
Kiffe earned an assist to go along with three created chances in the opening week. He was also able to take down seven duel wins to go along with seven cross attempts.
DF: James Moberg, Real Monarchs: 3899 pts
Moberg continually disrupted the Portland attack with four interceptions and three clearances on defense. He added a goal of his own, making the best of his one shot on target as the Monarchs made it look easy in the first week.
DF: Francisco Ugarte, Tulsa Roughnecks: 4098 pts
Ugarte made great use of his lone shot on goal to get on the scoreboard, but was able to shine in his duels, winning ten. He also was able to snag three interceptions.
M: Nick Besler, Real Monarchs: 3349 pts
Besler took advantage of his lone shot on target to grab himself a goal against Portland. He also added in a chance created and four clearances to help the Monarchs win their season opener.
M: Charlie Adams, Real Monarchs: 3585 pts
While not able to find the back of the net on his lone shot on goal, Adams contributed with a pair of assists and a total of five created chances.
M: Juan Caffa, Tulsa Roughnecks: 4285 pts
Caffa was a thorn in the side of the Switchbacks all game long. He recorded a goal, an assist, and created a pair of chances for his teammates. If his whopping sixteen cross attempts are anything to go off of, Caffa will be a critical player for opposing teams to mark moving forward.
FW: Latif Blessing, Swope Park Rangers: 3851 pts
Two of the three shots taken by Blessing were on target and one found the back of the net as Swope Park cruised past Oklahoma City. When you include a 60% duel win rate, Blessing took the final spot in the West starting XI for week one.
FW: Sammy Ochoa, Sacramento Republic: 4283 pts
Ochoa recorded a goal and an assist in a 2-1 comeback win over Seattle. He provided a needed spark, creating three chances and winning eight of his duels in his first USL game as a member of the Republic.
FW: Duke Lacroix, Orange County SC: 5000 pts
Lacroix recorded a first half brace and took a total of five shots as Orange County spoiled the Reno’s inaugural game. If he can continue to put teams under as much pressure as he did in the opening weekend, Lacroix may very well show up in our Best XI often, as he was one of two players in the West to crack the 5000 point mark in week one.
FW: Ian Svantesson, Tulsa Roughnecks: 5000 pts, player of the week
Our first Player of the Week, Svantesson got there with a brace and two created chances against Colorado Springs in a game that Roughnecks fans will not soon forget.
F: Daniel Salloi, Swope Park Rangers: 3696 pts
M: Danny Barrera, Sacramento Republic, 2917 pts
D: Emrah Klimenta, Sacramento Republic, 3314 pts
GK: Matt Cardone, San Antonio FC, 3953 pts
In the first week back after what felt like a tortuously long off season, it is clear that some players have hit the ground running. The first week saw Tulsa and the Monarchs dominate the player rankings, each grabbing three players in the starting XI, with Sacramento and Swope Park adding two players each.
As we learn more about how our formulas work and the type of information that is available to us from Opta, we will refine our formulas to hopefully create teams of the week that we feel are most representative to the true best XI each week.
Who do you think got snubbed from our rankings? What players do you think will maintain their position on the team of the week in week two? Let us know in the comments below!