Sean Johnson and Anton Tinnerholm celebrating — New York City FC — 3/31/18

When the mighty Zlatan brings forth a hello thunderbolt as a warmup act to his late winner in the first-ever El Trafico derby, it can cast a large shadow over the rest of the happenings around the league.


But we flew under the radar to find the developing stories you might have missed from this past weekend's MLS action.


Sean John stars


It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle of New York City FC's impressive start. The team has enjoyed headline-grabbing contributions from newcomers Jesus Medina, Ismael Tajouri and Anton Tinnerholm, and even a David Villa layoff hasn't slowed their early roll to the top of the league standings.


On Saturday, though, stingy goalkeeper Sean Johnson stepped into the Big Apple spotlight with nine saves in a 2-1 win at San Jose. He dove to reject a Magnus Eriksson free kick to keep the game tied mere moments after Tinnerholm's equalizing blast, and then cruelly turned away Vako and Quincy Amarikwa to hold a late lead.



It's not the first time he's helped steal points on the young season. Johnson made six stops in last week's hard-fought draw at New England, and he left Ola Kamara's jaw on the floor to keep out a leveling bid in their Week 3 victory over the LA Galaxy.


And when Johnson hasn't been good, he's been lucky. One might not jump to hand Johnson credit for the four shots fired off his woodwork through the first five games, but remember that the shot-stopper's antics tell opponents they need to finish perfectly to beat him.


Whitecaps keep creepin'


It may have escaped notice, but Vancouver is very quietly off to a 3-1-1 start sparked by their midfield depth and the defense-tormenting talents of new striker Kei Kamara.


The veteran goal-getter bagged his third of the season, a special winner away to lead his new club to a 2-1 win over old club (and previously unbeaten) Columbus on Saturday. Kamara has quickly fit into the Whitecaps ethos, dragging defenders all over to free up runners and striking in a flash. It was a masterfully steered thumping header seemingly out of nothing that did in his former employers this weekend.



Vancouver's early form has been surprising to many observers and the product of a true team effort. That road Kamara plows is now being attacked by a suddenly deep midfield collection of troubling wide threats supported by central ball-hawks.


Improved holding man Russell Teibert (89% passing so far), trade pick-up Felipe and veteran offseason buy Efrain Juarez have been effective pressure valves, allowing the likes of Alphonso Davies, Brek Shea and Cristian Techera to raid the final third at pace.


Revved up


A lot of eyes have been trained on the primetime newcomers putting on shows with the four clubs in New York and LA, while Columbus, Sporting KC and the aforementioned Vancouver are also reaping the rewards of key offseason additions.


You can go ahead and add New England to that list thanks to Cristian Penilla, who has quickly flashed surprise game-changing skills for a team eager to bounce back into contention this season. His display led the Revs (who managed but one road win in 2017) to a surprising 2-0 victory in Houston, vaulting them into fourth place in the East.


Penilla notched an assist for a third straight game by teeing up the Teal Bunbury winner on an early break, got loose on the right again to draw DaMarcus Beasley's 35th-minute red card, and would eventually put the game away fine individual raid from the left.



It was a comprehensive showing from Penilla as well as an instructive outing for future opponents: if anybody wants to keep up with the Revs rush, they'll need to slow down the man in the No. 70 shirt.


Rapids rewards


Do you want to know why new-look Colorado are off to a decent start following Saturday's patient 3-0 victory over Philadelphia? This tweet from Rapids play-by-play man Richard Fleming says it all:


April 2, 2018

There are many factors that go into this early goal surge from a club that had the least productive offense in the West last year, chief among them a determined start from top gun Dominique Badji. His second-half hat trick (the club's first since 2011) took the points this weekend.



However, Badji is not the only one already benefiting from coach Anthony Hudson's 3-5-2 system makeover. The Rapids' new shape has freed up new contributors to pay fast dividends.


New signing Johan Blomberg helped Marlon Hairston completely rule the right side against the Union. Both he and defensive midfielder Jack Price chalked up their second helper in three games in Saturday's win. Fellow newcomers Edgar Castillo, Niki Jackson and Enzo Martinez have also helped push an attack that has scored multiple times in consecutive games — something the Rapids did only once last season.


Fresh ideas In New York


Though the New York Red Bulls did let the points get away at Orlando City this weekend, the 4-3 loss did serve as a continuing indication that they won't miss departed playmaker Sacha Kljestan as much as folks feared they would.


Despite resting most of their regulars for Wednesday's important Concacaf Champions League tilt against Chivas de Guadalajara, the Red Bulls still looked the part of the most productive attack one month into the season (NYCFC and Sporting KC have also bagged 10 goals to date, but have played one more game).


Stand-in No. 10 Florian Valot grabbed a first half goal and assist, deep-lying string puller Marc Rzatkowski logged his first two Red Bulls helpers and DP-signing Kaku set up one goal with a patented cross.



Sean Davis, Alex Muyl and Vincent Bezecourt had already combined to pitch in with five assists prior to the Orlando loss, so be forewarned for the rest of a long season. There's now an array of set-up-by-committee options for head coach Jesse Marsch to choose from for trying to replace all the creative plays once made by Kljestan.