This week featured so many breakout performances, it could have been brought to you by Atari.
Three young players busted out for multiple goals, while a trio of veterans did the same. A new Designated Player bagged his first MLS goal, along with an assist, and a freshly traded player scored in his debut with his new side.
Two teams also enjoyed breakout weeks, as they strung together winning streaks under their new coaches, and a third won for the first time since mid-April.
There were also three red cards, several rapid-fire bursts of offense and, unfortunately, a couple of key injuries.
Let’s take another look, brick by brick.
The fans at Portland’s JELD-WEN Field have seen their share of spectacles in their brief, eventful MLS history, but Saturday night against LA, they witnessed something they’d never seen before — and hope to never see again.
HIGHLIGHTS: DPs on parade in Portland
Not long after the Timbers’ Kris Boyd lit up the stadium with a third-minute goal, LA completely doused it with four goals in nine minutes to take a 4-1 lead before the half-hour mark.
All of the strikes came from their Designated Players and the first one, from David Beckham in the 19th minute, was a certain goal-of-the-week candidate. The 37-year-old midfielder took a pass from Robbie Keane about 30 yards from goal and, with no defenders closing him down, used his cultured right foot to deposit the ball in the far sidenetting to make it 1-1.
In the next nine minutes, Beckham would strike again, off a free kick, Landon Donovan would score a penalty and Keane turned in a cross from Donovan to make it — just like that — 4-1.
Still, Portland didn’t roll over: Recently acquired defender Kosuke Kimura pulled one back before halftime to make it 4-2 at the break, and after Keane struck again in the 64th minute, Boyd hit his second of the day to make it 5-3 and round out an entertaining affair.
Several hundred miles down Interstate 5, and a few notches up the Western Conference table, San Jose Earthquakes engineered a similar outburst to blank fellow frontrunners Real Salt Lake 5-0.
HIGHLIGHTS: Wondo, Quakes blow out RSL
Chris Wondolowski opened the scoring in the 18th minute, and when RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman was sent off in the 57th, the floodgates opened. San Jose got a goal from Alan Gordon, and then three in eight minutes — two more from Wondo, and one from Simon Dawkins — to blow the game open and move four points clear of RSL atop the Western Conference standings.
Wondolowski now has 17 goals through 20 games, and a shot at Roy Lassiter’s 1996 single-season goals record of 27. No MLS player has scored more than 20 goals in a season since 2003.
New Days Rising?
While the individual stars came out in California, a pair of teams from the Eastern Conference broke out with winning streaks. Philadelphia Union won their third straight game under new coach John Hackworth and Toronto FC bagged two wins in one week under new boss Paul Mariner.
The Reds won a 3-2 thriller against Canadian rivals Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Wednesday, then nipped New England Revolution 1-0 on Saturday, ending the Revs’ unbeaten run at five games.
TFC’s first-year man Luis Silva scored goals in both games, and in the Vancouver match, Whitecaps FC rookie Darren Mattocks bagged two, including a spectacular leaping header in stoppage time.
GOAL: Valdes's winner breaks Montreal hearts
That goal looked like it would leave the game knotted at two, but Reds midfielder Terry Dunfield headed in Torsten Frings’ corner kick five minutes into stoppage time for a dramatic match winner.
The Union snatched their 2-1 win over Montreal Impact in similar fashion, surrendering an 89th-minute equalizer before Carlos Valdés won it in stoppage time with his first goal of the year.
Don’t be surprised if Philadelphia and Toronto climb out of the East cellar soon.
(The Reds’ win over New England may have been costly, though, as productive striker Danny Koevermans left the game with a knee injury just before halftime)
There were signs of life at the bottom of the Western Conference table, too, as FC Dallas broke a three-month winless streak with a 2-1 victory at Colorado Rapids.
FCD youngster Fabián Castillo enjoyed a breakout game to lead the way, setting up the equalizer and scoring the winner, as Dallas bounced back from a 1-0 deficit.
The rally cancelled Omar Cummings’ 50th-minute opener (assisted by Conor Casey) and ended a brutal run for The Hoops, who had gone 0W-7L-6D since April 14.
Sporting Kansas City have shaken off a recent slump of their own, reeling off two wins and a draw in their last three league games, and advancing to the final of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a 2-0 win over Philadelphia last Wednesday.
Peter Vermes’ men followed their USOC triumph with a 2-0 league win over Columbus Crew on Saturday. Jacob Peterson and Teal Bunbury scored against the Crew, making good on SKC’s only two shots on goal in the game.
With the win, Vermes’ men pulled ahead of D.C. United at the top of the East.
GOAL: Garcia opens MLS account
The Black and Red saw their hopes of keeping pace dinged early in their match at Houston Dynamo, when goalkeeper Bill Hamid clipped Dynamo striker Macoumba Kandji in the box, drawing a penalty for Houston and a straight red card for himself. Playing with 10 men for 73 minutes, D.C. gave up three more goals and fell 4-0.
Oscar Boniek García had a goal and an assist for the Dynamo, who remained unbeaten in eight games (5W-0L-3D) at BBVA Compass Stadium.
East vs. West
Nipping at D.C.’s and Kansas City’s heels in the East are New York Red Bulls and Chicago Fire, both of whom squared off against Western Conference opponents this week.
GOAL: Pardo goes top corner from FK
The Fire got the first goal of the year from midfielder Pável Pardo, then held on after defender Arne Friedrich was red carded in the 69th minute, and escaped with a 1-0 win over Whitecaps FC.
The Red Bulls got a goal from Sébastien Le Toux — traded from Vancouver on Friday in exchange for winger Dane Richards — but gave up a 67th-minute equalizer to Fredy Montero in a 2-2 draw with Seattle Sounders FC. New York DP Rafa Márquez limped off with an injury after just 21 minutes.
Chicago will try to overtake New York in the standings on Wednesday in a rare midweek matinee at Red Bull Arena.