Jeff Cunningham scored 16 goals in FC Dallas' final 14 games last year to win MLS's Golden Boot as top scorer and take the Hoops to the brink of postseason play.
Just a little more than a year later, he's heating up again.
The Jamaican-born forward came off the bench Sunday to score fine goals six minutes apart and lift Dallas to a 3-1 victory over Philadelphia, extending its unbeaten streak to nine games and make it the fourth club, after the Galaxy, Real Salt Lake and Columbus, to reach 30 points.
Cunningham, 33, had just one goal before starting his tear a year ago, and he came into Sunday's game with only four in a frustrating season in which he surrendered his starting job -- he's made 10 starts, the last two months ago -- and was overtaken as an attacking option by playmaker David Ferreira, newcomer Milton Rodriguez and rising youngster Brek Shea.
“Jeff is an amazing player,” Shea told the Dallas Morning News after setting up Cunningham's first goal, a superb header that broke a 1-1 draw in the 75th minute. “Things just haven't been going his way. Tonight he showed that he still can play.”
Cunningham followed with a sweetly nonchalant finish from Ferreira's feed in the 81st. Will more follow? We'll see.
“He scored two nice goals, but that’s what he does," FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman told MLS's Web site. "He was very anxious to get scoring again. Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.”
The goals were his 126th and 127th in MLS's regular season, just five off D.C. United veteran Jaime Moreno's total, MLS's No. 1 mark. They brought him the league's Player of the Week honor, his 14th, three more than Galaxy star Landon Donovan atop the all-time list.
NEW ADDITIONS: Columbus is on the verge of signing Peruvean forward Andres Mendoza, who scored 13 goals in Mexico with Morelia in 2008-09 and last played for Diyarbakrispor in Turkey. They cleared room on the roster by sending defender Jed Zayner and next year's fourth-round draft pick to D.C. United for a 2012 second-round selection.
Chicago reacquired Costa Rican defender Gonzalo Segares after six months with Cyprus' Apollon. Segares, who played college soccer at Virginia Commonwealth, was one of MLS's best defenders during five seasons with the Fire. They opened roster space by sending defender Tim Ward to San Jose for a 2011 conditional draft choice.
HOT FOOT: Fredy Montero, the MLS Player of the Month for July, has a goal or assist in each of Seattle's seven league games since the end of MLS's World Cup break.
The Colombian forward did well to hold off bigger defender Eddie Robinson, collect a long ball from goalkeeper Kasey Keller, turn and fire home to start the Sounders toward a 2-0 victory over Houston, their fourth successive win. He also scored in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League preliminary-round triumph over El Salvador's Isidro Metapan.
CCL OPENERS: Four MLS clubs --- every entry except the Galaxy --- are in the Champions League's group phase, with openers next week. In Group A, MLS Cup titlist Real Salt Lake is home next Wednesday against Panama's Arabe Unido and Canadian champ Toronto FC plays host next Tuesday to Mexico's Cruz Azul. Supporters' Shield winner Columbus is home next Wednesday against Guatemala's Municipal in Group B, and defending U.S. Open Cup champ Seattle plays next Thursday at Honduras' Marathon.
ODDS AND ENDS: Yorba Linda's Steven Lenhart (Esperanza HS/Azusa Pacific University) scored both goals for Columbus in its win over Philadelphia. … Former UCLA star Chad Barrett, who netted the winner in Toronto FC's victory over Chivas USA, has scored four goals in the Reds' past six competitive games, including strikes in both legs of their CCL preliminary-round victory over Honduran club Motagua. … Lawndale's Kein Kamara (Leuzinger HS/Cal State Dominguez Hills) had Kansas City's goal in its draw with Real Salt Lake. … Thierry Henry departed just before halftime with a groin injury in New York's scintillating 0-0 draw at Chicago. Rafa Marquez, making his Red Bulls debut, was superb in midfield; his Mexican compatriot Nery Castillo, debuting for the Fire, offered little after coming on in the second half to a standing ovation and fireworks. … San Jose dropped another 1-0 decision, to Colorado, on an own goal by goalkeeper Jon Busch. New England extended its unbeaten streak in all competitions to seven games and spoiled D.C. United interim coach Ben Olsen's coaching debut.
Past week’s scores (home teams listed first)
Philadelphia 1 (Le Toux pen. 48+), Columbus 2 (Lenhart 43, 50)
Toronto FC 2 (Attakora 21, Barrett 32), Chivas USA 1 (Maldonado pen. 65)
New England 1 (Phelan 42), D.C. United 0
Kansas City 1 (Kamara 21), Real Salt Lake 1 (Findley 33)
Colorado 1 (og Busch 26), San Jose 0
FC Dallas 3 (Ferreira pen. 24, Cunningham 75, 81), Philadelphia 1 (Moreno 9)
Chicago 0, New York 0
Seattle 2 (Montero 64, Fernandez 88), Houston 0
Western Conference: L.A. Galaxy 40 points, Real Salt Lake 35, FC Dallas 30, Seattle Sounders FC 28, Colorado Rapids 27, San Jose Earthquakes 23, Houston Dynamo 20, Chivas USA 18
Eastern Conference: Columbus Crew 37, New York Red Bulls 28, Toronto FC 26, Chicago Fire 21, Kansas City Wizards 20, New England Revolution 18, Philadelphia Union 15, D.C. United 12
Playoff race: 1. L.A. Galaxy 40, 2. Columbus 37, 3. Real Salt Lake 35, 4. FC Dallas 30, 5. Seattle 28, 6. New York 28, 7. Colorado 27, 8. Toronto FC 26.
This week's games (all times Pacific)
Real Salt Lake at Philadelphia, 4:30 p.m.
Toronto FC at New York, 4:30 p.m.
Colorado at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.
L.A. Galaxy at New York, 3 p.m.
Houston at New England, 5 p.m.
FC Dallas at D.C. United, 5 p.m.
Columbus at Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m.
Kansas City at San Jose, 7 p.m.
Seattle at Chivas USA, 7:30 p.m.
1. Edson Buddle (Los Angeles) 12
2. Juan Pablo Angel (New York) 11
3. Sebastian Le Toux (Philadelphia) 9
4. Dwayne De Rosario (Toronto FC) 8
Fredy Montero (Seattle) 8
Alvaro Saborio (Real Salt Lake) 8
7. Justin Braun (Chivas USA) 7
Conor Casey (Colorado) 7
Kei Kamara (Kansas City) 7
Marco Pappa (Chicago) 7
Steve Zakuani (Seattle) 7
Past week's results (home teams listed first)
CONCACAF Champions League: Motagua (Honduras) 2 (Guevara 6, 64), Toronto FC (MLS) 2 (De Rosario 59, Barrett 79)
CONCACAF Champions League: Isidro Metapan (El Salvador) 1 (Canales 34), Seattle Sounders (MLS) 1 (Fernandez 75)
SuperLiga: New England 1 (Mansally 56), Puebla (Mexico) 1 (Olivera 58)
CONCACAF Champions League: Puerto Rico Islanders (USSF D2 Pro League) 1 (Foley pen. 33), L.A. Galaxy 2 (og Velez 37, Franklin 84)
SuperLiga: Houston 0, Morelia (Mexico) 1 (Sabah 47)
Friendly: FC Dallas 2 (John 42, Ferreira pen. 75), Inter Milan (Italy) 2 (Milito 24, Eto'o 64)
Friendly: L.A. Galaxy 2 (Dunivant 40, Donovan pen. 46+), Real Madrid (Spain) 3 (Higuain 52, 62, Arbeloa 71)