Another full slate of MLS mid-week and weekend matches are in the books with a hint of controversy to keep things interesting. Although some might feel like refereeing was the highlight of week 16, we the viewers, fans, and writers, were treated to another fantastic set of matches filled with drama and excitement.
Total MLS’ Player of the Week is Philadelphia Union midfielder and relative newcomer, Roland Alberg.
The Dutch attacker who had started just 4 MLS matches this season before Wednesday, stepped up for the Union in a big way just after the news of Vincent Nogueira leaving the club became official.
Things did not get off to a very good start for the Union. After their backline was absolutely torched by the speedy David Accam to give the Fire a very early 1-0 lead, the Roland Alberg Show started. It seemed as though Roland was in the right place at the right time, all the time on Wednesday night.
The Union equalized on a Jonathan Campbell own goal in the 11th minute that was actually a sequence of rebounds that started with an Alberg shot. His first official goal of his 3 tallies on the night came just 4 minutes later when a Tranquilo Barnetta shot came off the post and found the Dutchman who made no mistake right near the penalty spot to put the Union up 2-1.
Alberg gave the Union a 3-1 lead in the second minute of added time at the end of the first half, picking up yet another rebound, first off of a Sean Johnson save, then off a defender's block. Roland would later add a penalty kick in the 56th minute to complete his hat trick and give the Union a nervy 4-3 victory.
But, Alberg didn’t stop there. On Saturday afternoon as the Union took on Vancouver, Roland opened the scoring for Philly, giving him an impressive 4 goals in a week.
If that kind of a performance doesn’t get you a unanimous Player of the Week honour, I don’t know what will.
Our honourable mention for week 16 is Portland Timbers Argentine midfielder Diego Valeri. Valeri was the catalyst for Portland’s comeback victory over the Houston Dynamo as he contributed an assist on Lucas Melano’s 2nd goal of the season, and later added 2 goals of his own (2 controversial penalties just 9 minutes apart, 1 of them at the death) to seal the victory.