Week 7 in MLS saw a bunch of teams continue surprisingly good starts to the season, while some of the struggling big guns picked up much-needed wins.
Last year's two trophy winners NYCFC and New England Revolution both took three points at home (more on the former in a moment), hopefully giving them something to build on moving forward. Inter Miami also made it two in two after going winless over their first five games, pulling off a shock 1-0 win in Seattle.
And Austin FC scored three goals in the final 10 minutes to complete an incredible 3-2 comeback away at D.C. United - a result that keeps the sophomore team second in the West.
That's just the tip of the iceberg from Week 7, though, so read on for some of the other big takeaways:
1. Taty Castellanos back on track with record-breaking performance
2021 Golden Boot winner Taty Castellanos failed to score a single goal across his opening five games of the 2022 MLS season. Then Real Salt Lake came to town and things changed.
The Argentine forward hit the net four times against the Ohio side as defending champions NYCFC walked to a resounding 6-0 win. Castellanos is the first player in club history to record multiple hat-tricks for NYCFC and more importantly, it inspired the Cityzens to just their second MLS win of the season as they struggled to balance Concacaf Champions League commitments.
That's all behind them now and Ronny Deila's men can focus fully on domestic matters. More performances like this, and more dominant displays from Castellanos, will see NYCFC fly up the Eastern Conference standings.
As for RSL, well, that's four without a win with some worrying defensive trends setting in. Pablo Mastroeni is a popular guy, but he needs to get hold of his players quickly to stop this slide.
2. LAFC bounce back from Trafico loss
LAFC fell to their first defeat of the season against arch-rivals LA Galaxy in Week 6, so all eyes were on them to see the response at the weekend.
Things didn't start well, with the Black and Gold falling behind in the 38th minute against Sporting Kansas City - Johnny Russell forcing an own goal from defender Diego Palacios.
But Steve Cherundolo's men are made of stern stuff now and quickly drew level through Cristian Arango just before half-time. After the break, LAFC heaped pressure on Kansas City and finally took the lead in the 70th minute with an Ismael Tajouri-Shradi wondergoal - Jose Cifuentes finished the job eight minutes later.
LAFC are top of the West again. They're playing some beautiful soccer, got Arango back on the scoresheet and showed they can respond brilliantly to setbacks. There's no telling how far they can go this season.
The same cannot be said for SKC, who have lost six of their first eight games this season.
3. Alec Kann frustrates former club as Atlanta United injury woes grow
The goalkeepers stole the show during Atlanta United's 0-0 draw with FC Cincinnati, for two very different reasons.
Thoughts go out to Brad Guzan who was stretchered off in the 73rd minute with what has now been confirmed as an ACL injury. Nobody wants to see a player suffer this sort of injury, not least a 37-year-old club captain, who now joins fellow veteran leaders Ozzie Alonso and Josef Martinez on the sidelines in Atlanta.
At the other end, Guzan's former backup, Alec Kann, pulled off no fewer than six saves to frustrate his former club, including getting down to his left to deny a Marcelino Moreno penalty.
Goalkeeper has been a problem position for FC Cincinnati and, in truth, Kann hasn't made the best start at TQL Stadium. But this performance was a much-improved performance where Kann showed his true capabilities. He was safe and commanding, and came up in the big moments to earn a valuable point on the road.
4. Matias Almeyda finally finished in San Jose?
Sure, the man-marking and furious transitions were fun for the neutral, as was the sheer unpredictability. But the San Jose Earthquakes have been a hot mess under Matias Almeyda and all the problems have manifested at the start of this season, with the two-time MLS Cup champions sitting bottom overall and winless.
They managed to salvage a 2-2 draw at home to Nashville SC at the weekend, with a Jeremy Ebobisse brace helping the Quakes come from behind twice. But the writing is on the wall.
Reports say Almeyda's future has been decided, with Alex Covelo set to replace Almeyda. He's an enigmatic character, but Quakes fans will surely be glad to see the back of Almeyda and his whacky experimentation. They deserve better than being a young coach's lab rat.
5. Djordje Mihailovic strengthens his USMNT claim
Are you watching, Gregg Berhalter?
With every week that goes by, Djordje Mihailovic's case for a USMNT recall gets stronger and stronger.
This time, the 23-year-old came up with a goal and an assist to help CF Montreal to an important 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. In doing so, Mihailovic took his tally for the season to four goals and two assists in 556 minutes of MLS action.
Mihailovic has a bit of everything. He can dribble, split defenses with his passing and vision, he can score, and isn't afraid of getting involved defensively. These are all qualities Berhalter seeks from his creative midfielders and with Giovanni Reyna suffering another injury, there is a gap that needs filling.
The USMNT have Nations League games coming up and surely Mihailovic deserves another chance.
MLS Week 7 results:
- CF Montreal 2-1 Vancouver Whitecaps
- San Jose Earthquakes 2-2 Nashville SC
- Atlanta United 0-0 FC Cincinnati
- Houston Dynamo 0-0 Portland Timbers
- New York Red Bulls 0-0 FC Dallas
- Columbus Crew 0-2 Orlando City
- New England Revolution 2-1 Charlotte FC
- Toronto FC 2-1 Philadelphia Union
- Chicago Fire 0-0 LA Galaxy
- Minnesota United 3-1 Colorado Rapids
- DC United 2-3 Austin FC
- Seattle Sounders 0-1 Inter Miami CF
- NYCFC 6-0 Real Salt Lake
- LAFC 3-1 Sporting Kansas City