It's almost time for MLS to take its Copa America break but, before that, there's been plenty going on.
Wright-Phillips finds form
Among the numerous issues plaguing the New York Red Bulls during their early 2016 struggles was the lack of scoring from the man whose job description is to do exactly that: Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The striker has been a phenomenon, tying the all-time single season mark with 27 in 2014 and backing it up with 17 tallies last year. Wright-Phillips was a significant reason New York recaptured the Supporters Shield in 2015 and remained an immense comfort to head coach Jesse Marsch and the Red Bull fans. When you have a man who can pump in goals at a rate of 22 a year in MLS, you count your blessings.
Through the first seven games of this year, Wright-Phillips failed to hit the back of a net. With the club also struggling to sort out their defensive setup in the aftermath of Matt Miazga's sale to Chelsea, that spelled disaster. Wright-Phillips' at his best allows Red Bulls midfielders to find space, soft spots from which they could chip in a goal or two. Without that, New York was a much less effective team.
Thankfully for the Red Bulls, the Wright-Phillips scoring drought is most certainly over. Since getting his first two goals of the year against Orlando on Apr. 25, he has burned up the scoring charts and now has eight goals to his name, good enough to be tied for first in the league with four other players.
The striker scored three in the first 27 minutes of Saturday's win vs. Toronto, the fastest hat trick from the opening whistle in the history of the league. It seems safe to say that there's no need to worry about Wright-Phillips and his output for the Red Bulls anymore.
Guess the Kamara
There are currently three players named Kamara plying their trade in Major League Soccer. One tied for the league lead in goals last season with 22, while the other two are newcomers who either just signed or are in their first MLS season.
At the weekend, two of Kamaras scored goals -- one actually hit three -- that helped their teams earn desperately-needed wins in a season that hasn't gone as planned. Oddly, though, neither of them was the league's "established" Kamara.
On Friday night in Kansas City, where dangerous weather delayed kickoff and then forced a one-hour delay before the start of the second half, D.C. United debutant Alhaji Kamara found the back of the net, having just signed for the club a few weeks ago after previously seeing his career threatened by a heart condition.
On Saturday in Columbus, where weather also delayed kickoff, it was Ola Kamara, a player signed ahead of the season and suddenly thrust into the spotlight thanks to the turbulent departure of his namesake Kei, who helped his team to an important 4-3 win with the first Crew hat trick in 12 years.
The game was wild and chaotic and Columbus had to hold on desperately to see it out. But a win is a win, especially with Gregg Berhalter's team on a four-game winless streak and in need of points to establish themselves as a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference.
The Good and the Bad
Who deserved to win Saturday's match between the Montreal Impact and LA Galaxy? That depends on how you measure "deserved."
The game was littered with errors, several of which turned into goals. Didier Drogba's added-time winner off a free kick was the most obvious beneficiary, but Giovani dos Santos' tally came from a bad Montreal defensive gaff as well. The Impact came out on top 3-2, hence the focus on LA goalkeeper Brian Rowe, but there was plenty of bad play on the field at Stade Saputo.
There were also some top-class moments as well. Lucas Ontivero's turn was fantastic, as was Mike Magee's first touch on his 59th minute equalizer. And so goes MLS, a league where the simplest mistakes are a regular occurrence but also a place that can astonish with examples of incredible skill.
Plenty of credit is due to Orlando City for its fightback at New York City FC; the Lions could have easily laid down after going two goals down on the difficult field of Yankee Stadium.
But while NYCFC's defence imploded to see three points reduced to one, perhaps the lasting memory from this game will be David Villa's slip while taking a penalty when the score was 2-0.
Standards drop without star names
If there was any chance that the host of international absences wouldn't affect the league in this final week before a break, it didn't last very long. Starting with Friday night's match between Kansas City and D.C. United, a number of games saw teams struggle without some of their central figures.
The imminent break is the right thing to do; MLS should try to limit the number of matches that so clearly lose a competitive element without international players.
Team of the weekend