Offense has long been established as the best route to our Team of the Week, and that pathway was reinforced this week. With a total of 20 goals across 7 matches, it was a high-scoring slate of fixtures in the East. Here are those players who went above and beyond their counterparts in the conference.
Goalkeeper: Rafael Diaz, New York Red Bulls II: 2770 pts
Rafael Diaz has the highest save percentage of any goalkeeper on NYRB II, and earned his second clean sheet of the season after a win over Saint Louis FC. He is responsible for two-thirds of all shutouts for the Baby Bulls this year.
Defender: Aaron Jones, Bethlehem Steel FC: 2304 pts
Adding his name to the growing list of Bethlehem goal scorers, Aaron Jones recorded his goal in a draw with Richmond. Sitting in the top five of the four major defensive categories - tackles, blocks, clearances and interceptions - Jones’ consistent play on defense is one of the reasons why Bethlehem are in the middle of their longest unbeaten streak in club history.
Defender: Jordan Scarlett, New York Red Bulls II: 2135 pts
With six clearances and four interceptions on the night, Scarlett led NYRB II to their sixth win of the season, moving the club into sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Midfielder: David Estrada, Charlotte Independence: 3980 pts, Player of the Week
Recording a brace off of three shots, David Estrada takes our Player of the Week honors, as he lead the Independence to their third straight win. Estrada has also scored on four of his five shots on target this season.
Midfielder: Pedro Ribeiro, Harrisburg City Islanders: 3269 pts
Pedro Ribeiro opened the scoring on Saturday with his second goal of the season as Harrisburg put up four goals in a win against Toronto FC II. Ribeiro also leads the club in shots with 20.
Midfielder: Maikel Chang, Charleston Battery: 2759 pts
Chang recorded the assist on both Battery goals on Saturday night in their win over Tampa Bay. With his 3 goals, 5 assists and 29 chances created, Chang has made himself an integral part of the Battery offense this season.
Midfielder: Luca Uccello, Toronto FC II: 2746 pts
With his then-tying goal in the 35th minute versus Harrisburg, Luca Uccello became the leading goal scorer on Toronto FC II this year, and one of eight different TFC II players to find the back of the net.
Midfielder: Brian Ownby, Louisville City: 2465 pts
It was Brian Ownby’s opening goal that set the pace for Louisville on Saturday night as they defeated Ottawa 2-1 to remain unbeaten at home. Leading the club in shots and chances, Ownby has been a reason why Louisville have been a very competitive club week after week.
Forward: Brandon Allen, New York Red Bulls II: 3513 pts
Scoring the lone goal of the match, Brandon Allen recorded his team leading ninth of the season. Last season’s Rookie of the Year looks to be headed towards another great season.
Forward: Romario Williams, Charleston Battery: 2273 pts
Williams added another goal to his league leading tally - now at 14 - in the 70th minute on Saturday. His has scored more goals by himself than five other clubs in the USL have managed to score altogether. Williams was recently called up to compete for Jamaica in this summer’s Gold Cup as well.
Forward: Heviel Cordoves, Charleston Battery: 2267 pts
Heviel Cordoves added his name to the Battery scoresheet this season, becoming the ninth different player on the club to find the back of the net for the league leaders.
Goalkeeper: Odisnel Cooper, Charleston Battery: 2220 pts
Defender: Matt Bahner, FC Cincinnati: 1802 pts
Midfielder: Paul Wilson, Harrisburg City Islanders: 2562 pts
Forward: Luke Spencer, Louisville City: 2143 pts
Last year’s conference champions, New York Red Bulls II, and this year’s conference leaders, Charleston, both send three players to the Best XI this week after solid wins. The Battery sit with two of the three forwards on our team, another reason why the club leads the conference in goals.
Scoring first was the key to success this week, as five of the eleven players listed in the Best XI, scored the opening goal of the match. That is an important factor in deciding fixtures, as the club that scored first won five of the seven matches this week. Gaining that early edge can only stand to benefit a team over the course of 90 minutes.
What are your thoughts on this week’s Best XI? Is there a player left off that you think is deserving of a spot? Which players do you think will have the best second half of the season? Let us know in the comments below!