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Things we learned from MLS Week 16.5

MLS rolled into Week 17 before we had a chance to look over Week 16. These things happen. Here's Week 16.5: the combined lessons of last weekend and the just-concluded round of midweek games.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

1. LA Galaxy is overcompensating for being terrible on the road

LA beat Philadelphia Union 5-1 in Week 16, then brought Portland Timbers' four-game winning streak to an abrupt end with a 5-0 thrashing in the midweek round of Week 17. Scroll back to the Galaxy's US Open Cup match on June 17 - a 6-1 win over amateur side PSA Elite - and that is three wins and 16 goals in three games.

This is ominous for the rest of MLS. It is only Week 17, but LA will play its 20th regular season game on June 27: it is in the second half of its schedule, and that is about the right sort of time for Bruce Arena to gradually ease his team into the sort of form required to win the only trophy he really cares about - MLS Cup.

There is, however, the suspicion that this ostentatious scoring spree may be motivated by a desire to cover for a glaring weakness: LA is dreadful away from home. The last three games were all played at home. But on the road this season, the Galaxy is without a win in nine attempts: five draws and four losses. It has scored 19 and conceded five at home, but scored just seven and allowed 15 on the road.

We have learned the Galaxy can be very, very good in Carson. We won't know whether this form travels well until the end of Week 17, after LA has visited San Jose for its tenth try at winning on the road in MLS in 2015.

2. Turns out Seattle Sounders aren't as good without Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey

The Sounders have their fair share of injuries and call-ups and suspensions. Much like any MLS team, it isn't all that often that the starting lineup might be reasonably considered "full strength". But the team gets by on better-than-average depth and superlative stars. It doesn't seem to matter too much who else is playing if Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey are in the side together. The two attacking players are better than most in the league and together they are arguably the best forward pairing there is in MLS.

But Dempsey got himself suspended for being petulant in the same USOC game that saw Martins injured. Since then, the Sounders have lost at home (0-2 to San Jose) and away (0-1 to Philadelphia).

Seattle isn't remotely close to being in crisis. But the combination of his suspension and Gold Cup could keep Dempsey out of his club team until the end of July (depending on how long USMNT is chasing the CONCACAF title). Martins is likely out for a few more weeks. Brad Evans and Marco Pappa also have Gold Cup duty.

The Sounders aren't in crisis: they are second in the Supporters' Shield race and top of the Western Conference despite having lost three of their last four games. But they aren't very good at the moment - and the longer this moment persists, the more likely this is the part of the season that will see Seattle drop from "Shield contender" to mere "playoff team".

3. The New York Red Bulls still aren't good, but they can win

A team that loses four in a row will inevitably start to talk about just needing three points and not caring how they are won. Losing streaks need to be ended; worry about aesthetics later.

So credit to RBNY for snapping its losing streak in the nick of time. The most recent of the team's four consecutive losses was the most heartbreaking: at home, courtesy of two missed penalties, an early red card, and two well-taken goals by the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Any sort of win was important after that dismal capitulation. RBNY started its midweek home game against RSL with attacking purpose - duly rewarded by a fourth minute goal for Mike Grella. And then the visitors had Javier Morales sent off. In the second half, Demar Phillips also saw red. The Red Bulls played 35 minutes at home against nine men and could not score again.

The team finished with 62% of possession, 216 passes attempted in the final third, 24 shots - and just the one goal to show for that effort.

That is not a sign of a team playing well. But we knew RBNY wasn't very good when it lost four games in a row. What we have learned is that it can win without being very good. Whether current form will permit a win - or at least a draw - against a team that keeps 11 players on the field for 90 minutes is a question that should be addressed in the next match, in Yankee Stadium on June 28.

4. Colorado still chasing Chicago's record

Colorado Rapids lost midweek, on the road to Orlando City. But the team found an 88th-minute equalizer in Week 16 to keep alive the dream of matching Chicago Fire's record for draws in the MLS regular season.

The record is 18 games tied. Colorado's draw with FC Dallas brought its total to nine for MLS 2015. It has played 16 games, so it has exactly 18 left to get another nine or more draws. The race is still on. Next up, the Rapids travel to play Sporting Kansas City on June 27th.

5. Kei Kamara is making the Golden Boot race look easy - the hard way

Columbus Crew isn't in great form - the midweek win over New England was its first in the league since May 9. But Kei Kamara is way ahead in the Golden Boot race: he scored twice against the Revs to bring his season total to 12 from 16 appearances. The next-highest scorers - Sebastian Giovinco, Kaka, and Chris Wondolowski - each have eight goals so far this season.

More remarkably, however, and unlike his closest challengers, Kamara has not scored a single penalty in the regular season to date. That may change if he gets anywhere the MLS single-season scoring record, but for now he is not the team's preferred spot-kick taker.

It is not unprecedented for a player to win the Golden Boot without any penalties to boost the total, but it hasn't happened for a while: Luciano Emilio had none from the spot when he led the league in scoring with 20 goals in 2007.

Kamara has a lot of games to play yet, and he already has more regular season goals than he has ever before scored in a single year in MLS. He might slow down. He might take a penalty. But he's on an unusual path to the Golden Boot if he keeps going the way he's been going to date.