Major League Soccer

MLS Week 8 review: Texas derby drama, Higuain pushed further out & more

Chris Smith
Drama in Texas
Drama in Texas / Omar Vega/GettyImages
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Week 8 was another goalfest in Major League Soccer.

New York City FC and Toronto FC traded punches in a 5-4 win for the reigning MLS Cup champions, while the post-Matias Almeyda era at the San Jose Earthquakes began with a dramatic 4-3 comeback victory over the Seattle Sounders.

With all that going on, it would be easy to miss some of the other big stories from the weekend. So, let's take a look and get you refreshed:


1. Estevez & Nagamura get first taste of Texas derby drama

Estevez was victorious in his first Texas derby.
Estevez was victorious in his first Texas derby. / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It's all change in Texas, with all three of the state's teams flying high right at the top of the Western Conference - we'll get to Austin FC later.

On Saturday, the heat was turned up as FC Dallas hosted the Houston Dynamo in the first Texas derby of the season, and the first for respective head coaches Nico Estevez and Paulo Nagamura.

The Dynamo took the lead through Sebastian Ferreira in the 33rd minute and appeared to be doing a good defensive job on their hosts. That was until substitutes Tsiki Ntsabeleng and Facundo Quignon orchestrated a dramatic late comeback for Dallas, breaking Houston hearts.

For Estevez, it was the perfect coaching debut in this fixture.

"I’m happy for the fans, to see the fanbase and all the people super excited at the end of the game, it’s great," he said. "It’s what you want to see as coaches and staff.”

Nagamura, meanwhile, will be feeling the sting, though confidence should remain high in the Dynamo camp after a strong start to the season.

2. DC United & Earthquakes bounce back after coaching departures

DC United put a tough week behind them with a win.
DC United put a tough week behind them with a win. / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It was a very active week on the MLS head coach merry-go-round, with DC United and the San Jose Earthquakes respectively parting ways with Hernan Losada and Matias Almeyda.

The 'new manager bounce' really is a myth but on this occasion, both teams got a shot in the arm with some fresh ideas on the sidelines.

Chad Ashton guided DCU to a 3-2 win at home to the New England Revolution, overcoming an early Brandon Bye goal and holding off a late charge from the Supporters' Shield holders. In just his second game for the club, Taxiarchis Fountas was the inspiration with two goals and an assist.

The Quakes picked up their first win of the season in even more dramatic fashion, coming from 2-0 and 3-1 down to beat the Seattle Sounders 4-3 - Cristian Espinoza's last-minute penalty competed both his hat-trick and his team's comeback. Good early signs for Alex Covelo.

There are still obvious defensive questions for both interim bosses to answer, but there's nothing quite like three points and a handful of goals to get your confidence flowing.

3. Austin FC continue incredible sophomore rise

Who can stop Austin FC?
Who can stop Austin FC? / Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Expansion years can be incredibly tough and a lot of teams will tell you it often doesn't get much easier in Year Two either.

Austin FC aren't one of those teams, though. Eight games into their sophomore year, the Verde and Black are second only to LAFC in the West, with one defeat and a league-high 20 goals scored.

Their latest victims were the Vancouver Whitecaps, who were torn apart by red-hot Argentine duo Sebastian Driussi and Maxi Urruti.

“We had a good locker room last year, results weren't going out way, but adding pieces like that (Urruti), just bringing in that lightheartedness, can really turn everyone's mentality into something different,” said goalkeeper Brad Stuver.

Josh Wolff really has built something incredible here; an Austin team full of vigor and creative brilliance, but with a defensive toughness rarely seen in such a new group. And it's all supercharged by that incredible Q2 Stadium crowd.

Who will stop Austin FC in their tracks?

4. Leonardo Campana keeps Higuain on the bench

Campana is keeping Higuain out of the Inter Miami XI.
Campana is keeping Higuain out of the Inter Miami XI. / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

There's no stopping Leonardo Campana at the moment. The Wolves loanee bagged a goal and an assist at the weekend as Inter Miami came from behind to beat Atlanta United 2-1 at home, meaning the Ecuadorian striker has now been directly involved in the club's last six MLS games (4g/2a). He also scored in the US Open Cup against Miami FC.

“I think he knows he's undroppable, I think he knows he's in a rich vein of form and I keep telling him every single day, it's his time. It's his time,” said Phil Neville after Sunday's match.

While Campana remains 'undroppable', Major League Soccer's third-highest-paid player, Gonzalo Higuain, is stuck on the bench behind the young striker, only able to watch on as his chance of finally becoming Inter Miami's talisman fades further.

That a young loanee is usurping such a big name (and wage) in the most important position on the pitch for an MLS club speaks to both the reckless past of Inter Miami's recruitment, and the careful present as they seek to put things right.

For the first time in club history, Inter Miami have won four successive games and they have Campana to thank for the turnaround.

5. Watch out for the Red Bulls

The Red Bulls are on fire.
The Red Bulls are on fire. / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of teams rightly getting a ton of credit right now. LAFC look back to their very best, Austin FC are tearing it up, and the Philadelphia Union are motoring along the East.

One team not getting anywhere near enough limelight, though, are the New York Red Bulls. Did you know they're now second in the East?!

It's not even like they've got that high quietly, either, going down to Orlando City at the weekend and strolling to a very impressive 3-0 win.

Okay, so a lot of their other games have been decided by one-goal margins. But that in itself is impressive, with the Red Bulls continuing to show the sort of resilience they found in the second half of 2021. And when they need to, the likes of Lewis Morgan and Luquinhas are fully capable of tearing you to shreds; just ask Orlando.

Little was realistically expected of the Red Bulls this year after barely scraping into the Playoffs in 2021. But it looks more and more like it'll be 13 post-season appearances in a row as Gerhard Struber continues to work wonders with this modestly constructed roster.

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