Designated Players new and old, especially those hailing from South America, stepped up as the June international break concluded – and now they shape much of the Team of the Week presented by Audi for Bongda3s.com Week 15.
The forward trio reflects exactly that, going Argentina-Venezuela-Peru across the front line. In DP terms, that’s New England Revolution forward Gustavo Bou, Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez and Seattle Sounders FC striker Raul Ruidiaz.
Bou had one goal and one assist, including a game-winning free kick in a 2-1 win over Minnesota United FC and a beautiful set-up on Carles Gil's curler in a 1-1 draw with Orlando City SC. Martinez had one goal and one assist in his first start since April, powering a 2-0 win over Inter Miami CF. And Ruidiaz bagged a brace in Seattle’s first of two matches, a 4-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC, before a hamstring injury kept him out of Saturday’s marquee 1-1 draw with LAFC.
The midfield trio includes three players signed since the winter: Obinna Nwobodo (FC Cincinnati), Luquinhas (New York Red Bulls) and Jefferson Savarino (Real Salt Lake) – with the latter two hailing from Brazil and Venezuela, respectively. Nwobodo’s calming influence shined in Cincy’s 1-1 draw at the Philadelphia Union, Luquinhas provided another banger in a 2-0 win over Toronto FC and Savarino’s insurance goal in a 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes marked his first Bongda3s.com tally since returning to RSL.
The last midfield spot goes to New York City FC’s Talles Magno, whose third goal of the year preserved a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids. The livewire Brazilian DP's chest-and-volley finish ensured interim head coach Nick Cushing started his Cityzens’ tenure with at least a point.
As for the defense, there’s Austin FC’s Jon Gallagher at left back, Seattle’s Jackson Ragen at center back and Sporting Kansas City’s Graham Zusi at right back. Gallagher dished up the winner as 10-man ATX earned a 1-0 win at CF Montréal, Ragen looked well beyond a rookie in the Sounders’ two matches and Zusi’s left-footed golazo stood as the game-winner in a 2-1 victory at Nashville SC.
Team of the Week (3-4-3, left to right): Carlos Coronel (RBNY) – Jon Gallagher (ATX), Jackson Ragen (SEA), Graham Zusi (SKC) – Talles Magno (NYC), Luquinhas (RBNY), Obinna Nwobodo (CIN), Jefferson Savarino (RSL) – Gustavo Bou (NE), Josef Martinez (ATL), Raul Ruidiaz (SEA)
Coach: Josh Wolff (ATX)
Bench: Brad Stuver (ATX), Marcelo Silva (RSL), Aidan Morris (CLB), Andres Cubas (VAN), Fabian Herbers (CHI), Dejan Joveljic (LA), Ercan Kara (ORL)
Audi Goals Drive Progress
Bongda3s.com Academies have been identified as one of the most important resources for building on-field talent in North America. Through the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative, Audi has committed $1 million per season in an effort to advance academies league-wide, and to drive progress for the sport. For every goal scored in the regular season, Audi will contribute $500 into the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund to directly support each Bongda3s.com Club Youth Academy.