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The High-Scoring Rapids Rule, FC Dallas' feel-good story, MLS's best team?


Gordon and the Rapids beat the Earthquakes 3-0. (AP Photo)

he overarching theme of last weekend in Major League Soccer was set in Commerce City, Colo., where the Colorado Rapids bested the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Prior to the weekend, Colorado had scored just five goals in eight games. The Rapids had been shut out three times in a row. Alan Gordon’s early miss against the ‘Quakes, a bouncing shot wide of an empty net, felt like an encapsulation of his team’s young season.

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Yet Colorado eventually broke through – then again and again.

This has been a rule of thumb for a few years now: If even the defensive-minded Rapids find the net multiple times, a high-scoring MLS weekend is afoot. Hence, there were goal-fests all around the league.

The New England Revolution scored four times in a single half en route to a rout of Real Salt Lake. The Philadelphia Union blew out D.C. United 4-0 on the road, and the Chicago Fire swept aside the defending champion Seattle Sounders 4-1 at home. Toronto FC got the better of Minnesota United 3-2 in a wild one up in Ontario, while the Los Angeles Galaxy surprisingly topped the New York Red Bulls 3-1 in Harrison, N.J.

These goals weren’t always pretty, mind you – this time of year, one must sort through lots of botched clearances and missed marking assignments during Goals of the Week research – but last weekend’s action certainly was entertaining.

Some other thoughts on the 11th week of action in MLS …

It was good to see Ryan Hollingshead back in action.

The FC Dallas midfielder thought he was paralyzed after being struck by a car on Jan. 6 – an accident he suffered while he was aiding another driver who had crashed due to icy conditions. It’s still kind of crazy that this hasn’t gotten more play nationally, but it has been a genuine feel-good story following Hollingshead’s progress ever since.

Though the 26-year-old suffered three broken vertebrae in his neck, Hollingshead was able to return to game action on Sunday night against New York City FC. May his two minutes off the bench against NYCFC be the first of many following his return.

Toronto FC’s streak only grows more impressive the more you dig into it.

TFC’s ongoing six-game winning streak is the longest in club history, and it’s only the third run of such length by any team in the league over the past decade.

Toronto got hot during a portion of the schedule most would dread: Five games in two weeks, with an emotionally-loaded, cross-country trip to Seattle for the MLS Cup rematch sandwiched in the middle.
Michael Bradley asserted after the 1-0 win over the Sounders that Toronto is the best team in the league as TFC’s impressive depth has been on display throughout this stretch. Coach Greg Vanney has changed lineups liberally, and the results haven’t changed.

The hard-fought win over Minnesota wasn’t the most convincing of the bunch, but all things considered, the defending Eastern Conference champs show little sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Player of the Week

Justin Meram, Columbus Crew.

His hat trick inspired a 3-2 road win in Montreal – goals galore, I’m telling you – the last of which was a 91st-minute game-winner. Columbus suddenly finds itself in second place in the Eastern Conference, looking far closer to the MLS Cup finalists of 2015 than the squad that missed the postseason last year.

Assist of the Week

Victor Vazquez, Toronto FC.

This was such an instinctive and creative flick to set up Tosaint Ricketts’ late winner last Wednesday in Columbus. TFC looked to have been grateful even to be tied, but Vazquez’s touch onto Raheem Edwards’ 90th-minute cross helped the visitors take all three points.

Runner-up: Carlos Rivas Orlando City.

Rivas delivered a pinpoint cross onto Cyle Larin‘s head early in Orlando City’s 2-2 draw against Kansas City.

Goal of the Week

Kaka, Orlando City.

The Brazilian makes the exceptional look so easy. This one is all about the first touch. Kaka controlled the cross with his chest, deadening the ball and allowing him control. That second touch, also on his chest, was pretty slick, too, throwing off the Sporting defenders and freeing up even more space.

Matt Pentz covers Major League Soccer for FC Yahoo. Follow him on Twitter @mattpentz.