In a reversal of recent weeks, the midfield and defense dominated this week’s Best XI in the Eastern Conference. With strong performances from Tampa Bay and Charlotte, this week’s team features the players who play well on both sides of the ball.
Goalkeeper: Mark Pais, Toronto FC II: 3932 pts
It was a six-save performance, as Mark Pais earned his third clean sheet of the year, in a win for Toronto FC II on Saturday. Both Pais and Cavalluzzo have posted shutouts for Toronto FC II over Ontario neighbors Ottawa Fury FC this year.
Defender: Joseph Farrell, Rochester Rhinos: 3415.39 pts*
Joseph Farrell provided his first assist of the season to help lift the Rhinos above Harrisburg this past week. On defense, Farrell sits in the top five of interceptions, tackles, blocks and clearances, for Rochester.
Defender: Neill Collins, Tampa Bay Rowdies: 2644 pts
The Rowdies returned to the win column this week, and Neill Collins, who posted four tackles and five interceptions on the night, had another shutdown night on the Tampa backline.
Defender: Aaron Jones, Bethlehem Steel FC: 2472 pts
Helping anchor the defense, Aaron Jones posted seven interceptions and four tackles for Bethlehem, as he led the club to their seventh consecutive match unbeaten, a streak dating all the way back to the end of May.
Defender: Bilal Duckett, Charlotte Independence: 2467.63 pts*
Bilal Duckett posted his first goal of the year on Saturday, as the Charlotte captain helped lead the club to their fifth straight win.
Midfielder: Enzo Martinez, Charlotte Independence: 3887.07 pts*
Like his Best XI midfielder teammate, Enzo Martinez provided another big boost to the Independence offense this week, as he found the back of the net twice. Martinez continues to lead Charlotte in shots, with 39 on the year through 12 appearances.
Midfielder: Joe Cole, Tampa Bay Rowdies: 2829 pts
In his fifth score of the year, Joe Cole doubled Tampa’s lead over FC Cincinnati on Thursday night in the 44th minute. Cole also leads the Rowdies in shots on goal this year.
Midfielder: Jorge Herrera, Charlotte Independence: 5147.56 pts*, Player of the Week
Jorge Herrera blew away the competition this week, as the Charlotte midfielder posted five goals across two matches. Herrera has also scored in three of his past five matches, leading Charlotte’s lethal attack in recent weeks.
Midfielder: Fabian Herbers, Bethlehem Steel FC: 2351 pts
In just his third appearance of the season, Fabian Herbers found the back of the net, becoming the tenth different Steel player to record a goal this year. Half of Herber’s shots this season have been on target.
Midfielder: Alex Morrell, Tampa Bay Rowdies: 2346 pts
Alex Morrell’s first assist of the year connected with Paterson for a goal. Morrell has been one of Tampa Bay’s more consistent players on crosses this year, as he sits in the top of crossing accuracy on the Rowdies, with a minimum of 10 crosses attempted.
Forward: Martin Paterson, Tampa Bay Rowdies: 2274 pts
Martin Paterson sits as the lone striker of the Best XI this week, as his opening goal in the 39th minute on Thursday helped end a seven match winless skid for Tampa Bay.
Goalkeeper: Jake McGuire, Bethlehem Steel FC: 3150 pts
Defender: Mitchell Taintor, Toronto FC II: 2227 pts
Midfielder: Luca Uccello, Toronto FC II: 2302 pts
Forward: Chris Nanco, Bethlehem Steel FC: 1978
* Denotes Average rating, calculated as follows: Rating=1.1*((max*0.7)+(min*0.3))
Tampa Bay lead the conference, as they sent four players to this week’s Best XI after a return to form win on Thursday. Charlotte, who have become the hottest club in the Eastern Conference in the past month, sent three of their own to the team, including Player of the Week, Jorge Herrera. Bethlehem rounds out the Best XI, sending a duo of Herbers and Jones to be among the top players of the week.
Jorge Herrera became just the third player - Charleston’s Romario Williams (week 4) and Richmond keeper, Travis Worra (week 1) - being the other two to earn a rating beyond 5000 points. With a player having to play such an impressive match to score higher than our max limit, it truly is an honor to reach this exclusive club.
What are your thoughts on this week’s Best XI? With the first half of the season in the books, which players are you watching for the second half of the season? Let us know in the comments below!