MLS Best XI Week 23: Argentine attackers shine

Two Argentine attackers to hit MLS shores during the summer transfer window are coming good, with Sebastian Grazzini and Milton Caraglio both shining this week.

Kasey Keller, Seattle Sounders FC:
One of the hardest tasks for a goalkeeper is keeping alert despite having little to do during the game. While Dallas took plenty of shots (25), only four hit the target, but Keller deserves the nod for his two stunning reflex saves at the very end of the game to preserve a 1-0 lead for his team in a game that helped establish Seattle as a legitimate top-tier team in MLS.


Chad Marshall, Columbus Crew:
Marshall puts in solid performances week in, week out, and Saturday's showing was no different. He bossed the Crew backline in a 2-1 win over Philadelphia, helping a team that wasn't always convincing secure three points that keeps it well in command of the Eastern Conference.

Bobby Boswell, Houston Dynamo: While he might not get into the team based solely on his defensive performances this week (decent, not fantastic), his timely finishing certainly earns him a spot. A late equalizer against New England secured the team an important away point, while he equalized again from a set piece en route to Houston's 3-2 home win over Real Salt Lake, putting a resurgent Dynamo side into an automatic playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, for the time being.

Cory Gibbs, Chicago Fire: The veteran defender turned back the clock this week, putting in two solid performances, especially in Chicago's first win in recent memory. His prowess at the back helped keep Toronto off the board, as he displayed an ability to both read the game and use his strength to great effect.


Dane Richards, New York Red Bulls:
New York looked anything but convincing in its trip to New England on Saturday, but an inspired performance from Richards saved Hans Backe's bacon, earning the Red Bulls a point. A well-timed run and convincing finish pulled New York within a goal after Milton Caraglio's brace, and he was on hand to turn home the equalizer in the 87th minute.

Graham Zusi, Sporting Kansas City: Make no mistake about it, Zusi has arrived in MLS. His brace on Wednesday, including a stunning strike from distance, powered his team to a 3-1 home win. Then his assured midfield play on the weekend helped Sporting to another three points, catapulting the team into second place in the Eastern Conference, a feat that would have been hard to fathom just two months ago.

Sebastian Grazzini, Chicago Fire: The Fire have a real gem on their hands in the form of the Argentine playmaker, recently signed from All Boys in his native country's top flight. He not only provided the Fire's only goal in the 1-1 draw with D.C. United, his ability to retain possession and pass the ball well shone over the Fire's two games this week. The fact that he is signed for next year means he could be the missing piece that brings Chicago back into contention after years in the wilderness.

Diego Chara, Portland Timbers: Chara drew praise from pundits and his own coach for one of the best performances he has put in wearing a Timbers jersey. Considering he has impressed throughout the past month, that is no mean feat. The Colombian DP's work rate and offensive contributions were second to none as the Timbers put away the visiting Whitecaps, keeping their status as one of the better expansion teams to arrive in MLS intact.

Brad Davis, Houston Dynamo: The MLS veteran continues to impress, and notched two assists in his team's 3-2 win over Real Salt Lake, while also putting in a good shift against New England midweek. His consistency continues to impress and if the Dynamo hold on to a playoff spot, they will first and foremost have Davis to thank.


Milton Caraglio, New England Revolution: Grazzini wasn't the only recently-arrived Argentine to shine, as New England's young new DP showed his predatory skills in finishing off two good chances to stake his team to a 2-0 lead against visiting New York. While New York eventually fought back to a tie the game, the Revs can take hope that Caraglio might be that offensive spark that puts them in position for a successful 2012.

Robbie Keane, Los Angeles Galaxy: Keane matched Juan Pablo Angel's total of game-winning goals this season just 21 minutes into his Galaxy career with a clever finish that saw him control a fine pass from David Beckham and leave Jon Busch in no man's land before finishing. The Irish international was a regular threat to the San Jose defense in his 72 minutes on the field, and could very well be the man the Galaxy need to find that elusive third MLS Cup title.

Formation (3-5-2):

Marshall - Boswell - Gibbs
Richards - Zusi - Grazzini - Chara - Davis
Caraglio - Keane

Bench: Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Chance Myers (Sporting Kansas City), Jeff Larentowicz (Colorado Rapids), David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Jorge Perlaza (Portland Timbers), Emilio Renteria (Columbus Crew)


Frank Klopas, Chicago Fire:
This nod is as much for the vision Klopas and the Fire front office showed for bringing in and playing Grazzini as it is for the Fire's impressive four point haul this week. Grazzini looks to be a real find for a struggling franchise, and while this week's reversal of fortune might be too little, too late for the Fire, Klopas showed that he might have what it takes to mold a team capable of contending for titles. Speaking of titles, the Fire might actually win one this year – they face USL Pro side Richmond Kickers in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals at the end of this month, with a final berth against either Seattle or Dallas as a potential reward.