The player of the week for the MLS playoffs conference semifinal first legs is the New England Revolution's Shalrie Joseph.With the 2009 Major League Soccer regular season firmly in the rear view mirror, individual performances matter more. Shalrie Joseph continued where he left off in the regular season -- hauling an injury-ravaged New England Revolution through matches -- in the playoffs. His game winning goal over the Chicago Fire sets up the Revs nicely for the return leg in the Windy City.
"Another brilliant performance, bullying a win for the Revs after going up top in the second half," commented Goal.com Magazine chief editor Greg Lalas. "His ability to hold the ball as a target man made the difference. And his goal was all guts and glory, risking his entire body to beat the goalkeeper to a ball in the penalty area."
The Grenadian started in the midfield alongside Jeff Larentowicz, but flipped up top after Edgaras Jankauskas made way for Pat Phelan. It was from his position as a target striker that Joseph poked home his gritty goal in the 76th minute.
"Supah Shalrie proved once again why he should be the front runner for MLS MVP with his game winning goal against Chicago," said associate editor Allen Ramsey. "I don't know what else you can ask of one player other than to be the rock of the midfield and your best striker all in one season/game, but I'm sure if you could think of it, Joseph could do it.”
Earlier in the match, the 31-year-old nearly created another goal. Both he and Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch went for the same ball. Joseph came down with the ball; Busch came down injured. Cutting back for Larentowicz, the ball eventually clinked off the post and out in what surely would have made for a controversial goal.
"It's not everyday a field player goes head to head with the goalkeeper and wins the physical battle," pointed out New York correspondent Terence Steed. "Joseph embarrassed Jon Busch."
Given Joseph's display and the importance of his goal, the voting was unanimous. No other player received a single vote.
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