It took a few weeks, but it appears the New York Red Bulls have finally awoken from their early season malaise, while Philadelphia Union poacher Jack McInerney is officially on fire as we look back on Week 8 in Major League Soccer.
A GOOD PERFORMANCE FROM RED BULL NEW YORK
It's safe to say that through the first eight weeks of the season, the star- studded New York Red Bulls have failed to live up to the preseason hype surrounding the team.
New York was handed a tough task last Wednesday when they hosted an in-form Sporting Kansas City side that had not conceded a goal in its past four outings.
True to form, SKC posted another clean sheet in a 1-0 win over New York, leaving the Red Bulls with an early season must-win scenario at Red Bull Arena on Saturday against the New England Revolution.
Luckily for New York and its fans, the struggling Revs proved to be just what the doctor ordered.
The Red Bulls seized momentum right from the outset and opened the scoring just four minutes in through Dax McCarty. New England got it back just two minutes later when Red Bulls defender Brandon Barklage nodded it into his own net, but that did little to detract from the Red Bulls' 90-minute dominance.
In the eighth minute, Barklage atoned for his gaffe by providing Fabian Espindola with an outstanding ball down the right flank and Espindola did the rest as he cut to the inside and ripped it home low to the far post.
New York put the game away with two more goals in the final eight minutes to finish off its first complete performance of the season.
"We should have won, we did win and it feels good to get the result," Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke said. "We took our opportunities tonight and I am very happy with the guys tonight."
The key for New York will be keeping their good form going and not slipping back into bad early season habits.
JACK MCINERNEY ON FIRE FOR PHILADELPHIA
Union striker Jack McInerney is absolutely on fire. The 20-year-old forward scored a brace inside of the first 30 minutes on Sunday to power the Union to a 3-2 win over D.C. United at RFK Stadium.
McInerney has scored four goals in his last three matches and leads the league in goal scoring with six tallies, one ahead of Galaxy forward Mike Magee and TFC forward Robert Earnshaw.
McInerney led the Union in scoring with eight goals last season after being inserted in the starting 11 in June and has his eyes on a bigger title this campaign.
"It's definitely in the back of my mind," McInerney told MLSsoccer.com of potentially winning the Golden Boot crown for the league's top goal scorer. "I know I'm not going to continue at this pace the whole year, so I told everyone not to get too excited. But it feels good, and the goals will keep coming if we're still winning."
McInerney has blossomed in a feared offensive threat under head coach John Hackworth and could be in line for a call-up by U.S. men's national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer.
If he continues to develop, McInerney could be the future for the U.S. national team, but for now, continuing to help the Union win matches, while building his profile in MLS, will suffice.
FC DALLAS'S HOT START CONTINUES
The early season award for the most surprising team goes to FC Dallas.
FCD took the early lead on Saturday against the Vancouver Whitecaps through an own goal from Vancouver defender Brad Rusin and added a second goal in the 50th minute through Blas Perez's third tally of the season.
With the 2-0 win, Dallas improved to a league-best 6-1-1 for 19 points.
The backline has been solid and the offense has been providing timely goals. The only issue for FC Dallas moving forward is how the team handles some adversity once the early-season hot streak comes to an end.
OTHER MLS ACTION
In other MLS action over the weekend, Houston Dynamo found a late equalizer through Warren Creavalle to draw Toronto FC, 1-1, while Seattle temporarily solved its scoring woes in a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids.
A late header from Jeff Larentowicz lifted the Chicago Fire to a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew, while Javier Morales netted the only goal of the match in a 1-0 win over Chivas USA.
In Saturday's nightcap, the defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy topped Sporting Kansas City, 2-0, while Sunday's late game saw Portland and San Jose battle to a 1-1 draw.
GOAL OF THE WEEK
This week's honor goes to San Jose substitute Adam Jahn, who came on in the 84th minute with his club down a goal and fired it home in stoppage time to rescue a point for San Jose.
Philadelphia Union - McInerney and veteran strike partner Conor Casey were very much on the same page on Sunday, almost carving up the D.C. United backline at will in the club's 3-2 win. McInerney has become the Union's go-to offensive weapon and star attraction. If he can keep up his form, the 20-year- old can make a run at winning the Golden Boot and could get a call-up to the National team from Klinsmann for the Gold Cup in July.
New York Red Bulls - It's about time the Red Bulls played up to their potential. After falling to Sporting KC in midweek, the Red Bulls rebounded nicely to thump the struggling New England Revolution. Thierry Henry and Espindola were dangerous all night long and an absolute handful for the Revs backline. But New York must remain on even keel and repeat the performance next week.
FC Dallas - FC Dallas has just rolled through their first eight games of the season, tasting defeat just once. Everything has gone right for Dallas with solid defensive play and timely goal scoring. But how long will the hot streak last, and how will they handle a couple losses in a row once it happens?
New England Revolution - This is how bad things have gotten in New England:
The Revolution finally put an end to a four-game goalless drought in Saturday's 4-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls, but the only goal that ended up in the back of the net for the Revs actually came off the back of Barklage for an own goal. The Revs have not won since posting a 1-0 road win against Chicago back on March 9 and have a tough test coming this week against an in- form Philadelphia side.
San Jose Earthquakes - Jahn seems to specialize in finding late-game equalizers for the Earthquakes, but it remains that San Jose has not won since a 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders back on March 23. San Jose talisman Chris Wondolowski was particularly ineffective on Sunday and fellow forward Alan Gordon will miss two more matches after being levied with a three-game ban after uttering offensive language in a 1-0 loss to Portland on April 14.
D.C. United - After a stellar 2012 season that saw MLS' flagship franchise reach the postseason for the first time in five years, United looks lost and uninterested through seven games this season. Injuries have played a part in Ben Olsen's club's struggles as Nick DeLeon will miss six weeks with a hamstring injury, but United was sluggish on Sunday, resulting in the club's third straight home defeat. D.C. has just four points this season and is firmly rooted to last place in the Eastern Conference and Olsen will need to figure things out before United visits the Columbus Crew this weekend.
THE WEEK AHEAD
This week's pick of the lot sees Real Salt Lake host the Los Angeles Galaxy, while Chivas USA battles the struggling Earthquakes.
Also on Saturday, Toronto FC welcomes New York to BMO Field, Montreal Impact returns from its bye week to host the Chicago Fire, while Dallas looks for its second straight win over Vancouver. Columbus hosts scuffling D.C. at Crew Stadium, while Philadelphia hosts New England at PPL Park.
Sporting KC looks for a rebound performance against the Portland Timbers, while Sunday's game pits Houston against Colorado at BBVA Compass Stadium.