Another big win for the New York Red Bulls this week; and only partially because all wins are big wins when you're digging out of the 1-6 hole you dug for yourself to start the season. This win was big because it was by four goals, because it featured RBNY's first clean sheet of the 2016 league campaign, and because it was the early leader in the Shield race that the Red Bulls sent homeward to think again.
There will be much said about the Red Bulls' biggest and most confident win of the season to date, but here are a few early thoughts:
1. It's OK to stick to what you do well
If it felt like old times at Red Bull Arena, that wasn't just because RBNY was winning again. The team appears to have slowly, shyly, crept back toward the principles that won the Supporters' Shield in 2015. "Sophistication" is a great idea that may yet have its day, but last year's Red Bulls were the best in the league and there are enough of them still in this squad to let them focus attention on what they were good at just a season ago.
In a game that saw RBNY trample FC Dallas with an irrepressible demonstration of their 2015 best, it is fitting that the first goal scored was a reprise of a highlight of last season.
Looks plenty sophisticated to me. Well played, RBNY.
2. Chris Duvall played 90 minutes at center back in RBNY's first clean sheet of the season
The most surprising moment of the night came when starting lineups were announced: Jesse Marsch left his stalwart stand-in center back, Karl Ouimette, on the bench, and asked second-choice right back Chris Duvall to fill the space that will shortly be occupied by Aurelien Collin (or Gideon Baah; or Damien Perrinelle).
And Chris Duvall played 90 minutes as the starting CB in the first clean sheet RBNY has had all season.
Duly noted. Bold move, Jesse - and it worked. Well played, Chris.
3. It was Lloyd Sam's night
Lloyd Sam scored the first goal, created the opportunity Sacha Kljestan turned into the second, and played in the ball that Felipe turned into a superb cross to find Mike Grella for the third. And then he watched his replacement - Alex Muyl - set up Felipe for the fourth.
Sam's biggest game of the season to date also happens to be RBNY's biggest win of the season to date. Coincidence?