Three matchdays, 11 games, 39 goals and no shortage of conversation topics. Let’s dive in.

Darwin’s Loons rising

It was a very good week for Darwin Quintero and Minnesota United, who just bagged nine points from a three-games-in-nine-days homestand, their first winning streak of more than two games since entering MLS last year. Their Colombian sparkplug has been at the heart of the Loons’ revival, scoring six goals and four assists in his last five games to turn their attack from basic to baller and prompting talk of a late All-Star call:

Running away with the boot

Quintero’s season total is approaching double digits, and top marksmen Bradley Wright-Phillips, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gyasi Zardes also found the net over the weekend. Yet it looks like no one is catching Golden Boot leader Josef Martinez, whose unquenchable thirst for goals brought him yet another hat trick on Saturday and pushed him to a dazzling 22 goals on the year.

Atlanta United’s Venezuelan is on pace to utterly smash the single-season scoring record of 27 goals shared by BWP (2014), Chris Wondolowski (2012) and Roy Lassiter (1996).

Rivalry repercussions

Regional showdowns always carry an enjoyable extra edge and so it was in:

  • Seattle, where the Sounders continued their upswing with a 2-0 Cascadia Cup win over Vancouver...

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    Salt Lake
    , site of an
    unexpected Colorado comeback
    in the Rocky Mountain Cup,
    aided by a lengthy weather delay

  • And Houston, which witnessed plenty of Texas Derby drama thanks to a Joe Willis penalty-kick save, a VAR-rescinded game-winner and some clumsy attempts at finishing by Roland Lamah

  • Controversy and clutchness in Columbus

    Columbus Crew SC pulled off a near-miraculous comeback win over Orlando City in a game that earns my pick for must-watch condensed match of the week on the MLS app. Referee Silviu Petrescu found himself in the thick of things, however, nowhere more so than on the penalty-kick call that sparked the home side’s late rally:

    Whatever you think of that decision, you should still feast your eyes on Wil Trapp’s utterly amazing long-distance bomb into the top corner for the win:

    Debuts and (discussed) departures

    We’ve fully entered the proverbial “silly season” and that means trades and transfers are being cussed and discussed around the league.

    Seattle got a lift from new arrival Raul Ruidiaz on Saturday, while the Whitecaps, conversely, went another game without teen phenom Alphonso Davies amid reports that he could be bound for Europe.

    FC Dallas and Colorado just completed what counts as a blockbuster trade, Orlando are said to be shopping out-of-sorts winger Justin Meram – with one particularly intriguing contender for his services – and Montreal are apparently ready to welcome a new striker with a prolific scoring resume in France’s Ligue 1.

    Who’s hot, who’s not

    Speaking of the Impact, they have gone from basement dwellers to playoff contenders in the span of a month or so, and were two Evan Bush howlers away from a solid road win in Portland that nonetheless ended up a well-earned road draw. They’re 5-1-1 over the past five weeks or so, with key stars Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider striking up a useful rhythm.

    The LA Galaxy have also ripped off a hot streak, and after back-to-back road wins on the East Coast they carry ample momentum into Thursday’s big El Trafico clash with LAFC. The New York Reds Bullskeep sizzling. Meanwhile New England have now lost three in a row and are 1-3-3 in their last seven, while the Chicago Fire find themselves on a four-game losing skid and Vancouver are 1-4 over the past month.

    And finally…

    Your moment of Zen for the week, brought to you by Kaku Gamarra: