Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins show their might again
Seattle is not just a two-man show (particularly with the defense now on steady ground and Osvaldo Alonso back in midfield), but the Sounders’ MLS Cup hopes rest on their irrepressible front two. Dempsey and Martins showed exactly the sort of menace required to mount a Supporters’ Shield defense by tearing NYCFC apart during the second half on Sunday night. Their production allowed the Sounders to navigate through some tricky times (particularly in the first half) and secure a 3-1 victory.
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY SportsAdam Hunger
Fabian Castillo reinforces his growth as FCD romps in Houston
Castillo always loomed as a potential match-winner with his searing pace, but he struggled to produce the final ball or the final shot reliably during his first few seasons in Frisco. He made a significant leap forward in his consistency last season and reinforced his growth with another influential performance in the 4-1 victory at Houston on Friday. It is difficult enough to stop Castillo when he challenges defenders one-versus-one in the open field. It is a nearly impossible when he allies his endeavor and his pace with the necessary end product.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsTroy Taormina
Toronto FC finishes successful road trip with victory at Philadelphia
TFC found itself mired in the usual brand of chaos and rumors just two weeks ago. A pair of victories to close out the season-opening, seven-match road trip -- including the gritty 1-0 triumph at Philadelphia on Saturday -- shifted the perspective considerably. Sebastian Giovinco’s goal at PPL Park secured a third win in seven attempts. Nine points represents a decent foundation for the Reds as they prepare to make their debut at the newly renovated BMO Field against Houston on Sunday.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY SportsBill Streicher
D.C. United underscores its ability to punish the opposition against Columbus
Few teams in MLS churn out results more competently than United. This veteran side highlighted its ability to assess the evident weaknesses (the fullback play and the space allotted on the break, in this instance) and punish the opposition accordingly in the 2-0 victory over Crew SC on Saturday. It is not an easy skill to exhibit, even with a seasoned group. United’s proficiency in this department deserves far more credit than it usually receives. With Fabian Espindola back in the fold and Chris Rolfe in good form, United poses a threat to any team in the league at the moment.
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY SportsGeoff Burke
Pressure is on in Portland with Diego Valeri back in the fold
The shift to a more direct approach at the start of the season reflected a necessary dose of pragmatism from Timbers boss Caleb Porter. His side simply isn’t the same without the influential Valeri to pull the strings and the results reflect it. Valeri made his first appearance of the season in the 0-0 draw against Vancouver on Saturday. He must settle quickly to ensure this Timbers side emerges from its doldrums and starts to find its footing once more.