The New York Red Bulls got back on the win-wagon against Montreal Impact, kicking off a critical three-game home stand by riding one goal to three points.
It was not a masterful or dominating performance, but it was one that saw RBNY victorious. After twice seeing better games slide away from them at the last, the Red Bulls will be pleased to have clinched a result that should put the can-this-team-hold-a-lead chatter on ice for...well, until the next game.
And the next game is on Tuesday (in CONCACAF Champions League). But a couple of days' respite from the discussion of the team's most obvious flaw is surely welcome.
And Three Thoughts celebrates with a determinedly joyful edition.
1. Top of the East
Three points, playoff place clinched - and clinched for TFC and NYCFC (you're welcome, neighbors - never forget who gave you your first post-season) - and top of the Eastern Conference.
Forget all that came before. RBNY is where it wants to be with three games left in the regular season. To stay there, it will need a helping hand from TFC's future opponents, and more wins. But the end of the regular season is in sight and the Red Bulls are top of the East.
2. 1-0 again
The Red Bulls are not really built to win games 1-0, as their not infrequent failures to defend more substantial leads has demonstrated. Still, the team's last four wins (three in MLS and one in CCL) have been by the slender 1-0 margin.
It is another manifestation of the team's confounding 2016. RBNY fell on its face to start the season, but has since blossomed into one of the league's best. It is unbeaten in its last 13 MLS games, but has taken the shine off that record with a succession of lost leads. And those lost leads have famously been dropped from the height of a two-goal advantage, but give the team a single-goal lead - and it will find a way to close out the game.
Whenever this team appears to have settled into a pattern this season, it finds a way to wreck our conclusions.
3. Daniel Royer's first goal as a New York Red Bull
Remember when RBNY was looking for attacking help, to shift some of the scoring burden away from Bradley Wright-Phillips? BWP had scored in his last six appearances for the Red Bulls, prior to this game. He was due a quiet night. Fittingly, on the night that streak came to an end, the attacking help - one of the men brought in this summer to amplify RBNY's scoring power - stepped up.
Royer scores his first MLS goal! 1-0 RBNY!!! pic.twitter.com/dJv9hB5Fnx— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) September 25, 2016