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Mateusz Bogusz, Brian White headline the Best of MLS for Week 18

By Justin Ruderman and Favian Renkel

Welcome back to Week No. 18 of Justin and Favian’s Weekly MLS Awards where SBI staff writers Justin Ruderman and Favian Renkel bring you a glimpse at the best of each week in MLS.

Even with Copa America and the European Championship taking centerstage, MLS is still finding a way to capture the attention of all soccer crazy fans all around the world.

Player of the Week

Justin Ruderman: Mateusz Bogusz (LAFC)

Last week, my Young Player of the Week. This week, my Player of the Week. Last week, I questioned whether anybody in MLS was in better form than Mateusz Bogusz. This week, I’m bullish there absolutely is not.

In his ninth consecutive league match with a goal contribution, Bogusz recorded the first hat trick of his professional career to lead LAFC in a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids. 

“He scores goals like most people eat skittles.” as legendary announcer Max Bretos aptly commented on the AppleTV broadcast. Bogusz simply has a knack for turning up in the right spot at the right moment as he did for his second goal against Colorado. His continually growing relationship with Denis Bouanga, both on and off the field, hasn’t hurt either with the two regularly providing assists for one another.

It is a real shame Mateusz Bogusz is not an MLS All-Star. He undoubtedly should be.

Favian Renkel: Brian White (Vancouver Whitecaps)

Not only did Brian White win Player of the Week for MLS, but he also attributed to one of the most suprsing coach firings of the season in Saint Louis letting Bradley Carnell go after this loss to the Whitecaps. 

The former USMNT striker found a way to put three goals in the back of the net with only 0.40 xG. That means this may be the most “Golazo” filled hat trick you will see all season. The kid from Jersey only needed three shots on the day to grab his 6th, 7th and 8th goal of the season. 

Lets see if White can surpass the all time leading regular season MLS goal scorer in this next match versus Minesota United. White is currently tied for the record with Camilo Sanvezzo at 39 regular season goals. 

Young Player of the Week

JR: Jalen Neal (LA Galaxy)

For the first time in eight years, the LA Galaxy have kept three consecutive clean sheets.

The latest came in a 3-0 Cali Clasico thrashing of northern neighbors San Jose Earthquakes at Stanford Stadium with 20-year-old center-back Jalen Neal proving a major reason why. On Saturday, Neal completed nine defensive actions while committing only one foul to lead Galaxy to a shutout alongside Maya Yoshida.

The veteran Japanese defender has become both a partner and mentor for the Galaxy homegrown who has developed into one of the best ball-playing central defenders in MLS. His 92% pass completion on Saturday was incredibly under his 93.3% season average which ranks him in the 99th percentile for central defenders according to FBref.

When Neal starts, the Galaxy don’t lose. It’s as simple as that. This season Galaxy is 4-0-3 when Neal starts as they head into a massive top-of-the-West El Trafico clash at the Rose Bowl on July 4th.

FR: Mateusz Bogusz (LAFC)

Justin’s Player of the Week can also be my Young Player of the Week, right? Mateusz has been the best player in MLS since the start of Copa America, with LAFC extending their unbeaten run to 11 games and Bogusz contributing to goals in 9 of those matches.

The 22-year-old Polish striker recently grabbed his first MLS hat trick and now has 12 goals and 4 assists in 20 matches this season.

Could we have a dark horse candidate for MVP on our hands? Let’s see if LAFC keeps Olivier Giroud off the field because of Bogusz’s form in the league.

Goal of the Week

JR: Jordi Alba (Inter Miami)

What more can I say about Jordi Alba?

When Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez left for international duty at Copa America, the legendary fullback produced a finish either world-class goalscorer would be proud of.

As the ball squirted out to Alba at the top of Nashville’s box from a corner kick, he controlled the ball on his chest, popping it in the air while setting himself to strike towards goal. Strike he did. Alba caught the ball perfectly as it fell towards Earth, smashing his left foot through a full-volley, and leaving Joe Willis no chance as the goal arrowed into the back of the net. Tata Martino couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.

Two days later, Jordi Alba was selected as an MLS All-Star for the first time.

FR: Max Arfsten (Columbus Crew) 

Max Arfsten has been on a tear lately for Wilfried Nancy and the Columbus Crew. When Julian Gressel left, Crew fans wondered who would step into those minutes. Enter the 23-year-old SuperDraft pick with a next soldier up mentality. Arfsten made a name for himself in big moments by not shying away from them and gained Nancy’s trust in less than 2 years. Max Arfsten has already played 15 games this season in MLS, three more than he had all of last season.

With his beautifully curled shots, Max will continue to stay on Nancy’s good side and keep seeing the field.

Team of the Week

JR: Columbus Crew 

The New England Revolution may not be the best team in the league this season but they’ve been in great form winning their last four games. That is, until they hosted the Columbus Crew.

Following up their 4-0 walloping of Sporting KC last weekend, the Crew dropped a five spot in Foxborough to keep their goalscoring dam open in a 5-1 win over the Revs. The stars shined as Cucho Hernandez and Diego Rossi each recorded a trio of goal contributions on the night while the Crew still managed to share the wealth with five different goalscorers.

The rew dominated in essentially every statistical category with 60% possession, 18 shots, over 2.5 expected goals (xG), nealy 600 passes, and winning 59% of duels in the match. The reigning MLS Cup champions fell out of the Supporters’ Shield race with a string of draws during their run to the Concacaf Champions Cup Final but as Wilfried Nancy’s team has returned focus to league play, the Crew are back on the trophy hunt.

FR: Inter Miami Cf

Inter Miami keeps doing the impossible. Every single week, they face another player going down with an injury during a tough stretch of their season. Yet, it seems that whenever they lose key players, those who were previously injured become healthy at the perfect time.

Now, even without Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Matias Rojas, Inter Miami has managed to string together three consecutive 2-1 victories. Tata Martino has these boys in pink playing at a completely different level. Being two points clear of FC Cincinnati without the former Ballon d’Or winner on the team is something no one in South Beach could have imagined. 

If you had told me at the beginning of the season that Tata Martino would win the Coach of the Year award, I would have been annoyed, thinking he’d be winning it with the best MLS team of all time. However, the way he’s winning without many key players now adds validity to the nod if he does win.

If Inter Miami can hold on to the Supporter Shield lead with a matchup with FC Cincinnati on the horizon, they may be able to start picking up a point lead and start running away with the Shield when Lionel Messi gets back from Copa America. 

Best Thing We Saw This Week

JR: Dairon Asprilla Walks Off Into the Sunset

After nearly a decade of legendary service for the Portland Timbers, Dairon Asprilla is expected to return home to his native Colombia to join Atlético Nacional in this summer’s transfer window. On Saturday, he said his goodbye to Timbers Army in memorable fashion.

Let me set the scene.

The Portland Timbers were trailing visitors Minnesota United 2-1 at Providence Park as the second half began. The home side took control of the game, creating chance after chance and eventually finding an equalizer in the 73rd minute.

In the 74th minute, Dairon Asprilla subbed on.

But Portland continued to dominate while chasing a winner as the game entered extra time. They needed a hero, a goal, an assist, a player to grab the moment. Of course, Asprilla stepped up.

The 32-year-old hustled down the right flank to hunt a long ball over the top, first-timing the bouncing ball for a pinpoint cross to Jonathan Rodriguez on the doorstep for a 92nd-minute Timbers winner. Talk about going out in style!

FR: MLS is still producing entertainment during International Tournaments 

This is a hot topic in MLS circles: should the league continue playing through FIFA International breaks and tournaments? As we’ve seen during the Euros and Copa America, MLS has managed to produce quality matchups and performances. While many expected MLS to become secondary during this period, it has arguably picked up momentum. Players are getting their first hat tricks, and coaches are getting fired—the entertainment hasn’t stopped at all.

Personally, I always thought MLS should pause for these major international competitions. However, I’m now leaning towards playing a full season rather than shortening it. One improvement MLS could make is increasing team salaries to better prepare for playing through international breaks. This way, everyone wins with nonstop soccer action in the United States. It seems like you can never have too much of a good thing.

The summer of soccer is a big deal for many fans getting into the sport stateside, and it’s becoming clear that MLS can play a crucial part in it.


  1. White reminds me of Brian McBride from MLS’ first year. Good all-around skills for a forward, hard-working, bleeds for the shirt and can score clutch goals. Good thing Vancouver saw his quality like few have.

    He needs to go abroad (Europe) if his goal is to play for the USMNT.

  2. Very excited for Jalen Neal’s continued development. Having Yoshida as a mentor is using on tye cake for one of, if not the most promising young American CB’s I have seen in MLS since Tim Ream emerged. And Neal is far younger than Ream was when he emerged at NYRB..

    • It was pretty evident to me when Ream played for NYRB that he was the best passer for a MLS defender. He’s not athletic nor physical like Zimmerman, but a player like Ream has vision and can pass his way out of trouble.


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