Julian Gressel shared
defensive duties with teammate Carlos Carmona and somtimes played on the wing yet lit up the attacking sheets by scoring five goals and registering nine assists. The Rookie of the Year, albeit
at 23, played a huge role in Atlanta’s amazing expansion year.
Given a lot of help in the 3-5-2 formation normally used by TFC, Michael Bradley orchestrated a record-breaking season. He did the defensive work (2.3 tackles, 2.0 interceptions per game) and completed an excellent 88.1 percent of his passes in a smoothly functioning operation that rolled to the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup.
In his first MLS season, Alexander Ring finished among the league leaders in tackles (3.9) and interceptions (2.2) per game. He took a few too many cautions (10) and his pass-completion percentage (83.2) wasn’t stellar, but no doubt he played a major role in NYCFC’s second-place finish in a very tough Eastern Conference.
The move of Dax McCarty in a trade sent a shock wave through the league and for the most part he handled the responsibilities and pressure well of knitting together the Fire midfield. But he and team didn’t finish strongly, which casts a cloud over 2018.
Columbus, MLS Cup finalist in 2015, bounced back from a poor 2016 with Wil Trapp a key reason for the revival. Steady and strong and smart, Trapp collected four assists while completing 88.3 percent of his passes and defensively did the business with 2.4 tackles and 1.7 interceptions per game. Houston’s dynamic attack relied heavily on the rugged work of Juan Cabezas, as shown by his 3.8 tackles and 2.1 interceptions per game.
One-third of the way through the season the future looked grim for RSL and stalwart Kyle Beckerman, but he was a big factor in young RSL's turnaround and should be rewarded with a new contract.
Felipe scored two goals, earned three assists, and averaged nearly a key pass every game as well as 2.4 tackles and 1.7 interceptions. Just making the playoffs is well below Red Bull expectations yet without Felipe they might have fallen short of that modest accomplishment. Carlos Guezo soldiered through the FCD collapse to average 2.6 tackles and 1.3 interceptions while also connecting on 85.7 percent of his passes.