8 Things We Learned from MLS Week 8: Man-Advantage Trend Broken and More
After two full months of play in Major League Soccer, we have learned a ton about the 2014 identities of the 19 clubs in the league.
Play in Week 8 helped us define those identities even more, as a few teams continued old trends, while some showed signs of life that previously were not there.
Continue reading on for a look at the eight biggest takeaways from the latest weekend of MLS action.
Teams Finally Took Full Advantage of Being a Man Up
During the first seven weeks of the season, teams that ended the match with one more player than their opponent were 5-2-7.
That record improved by three wins in Week 8 as D.C., New England and San Jose all took full advantage of playing against 10 men.
D.C. thumped FC Dallas by a three-goal margin after Zach Loyd was given his marching orders, New England scored twice with Aurelien Collin off the pitch, and San Jose held on to an one-goal lead after Dan Kennedy was sent off.
If this is a sign of things to come, teams with a man advantage in the future should be able to leave the match with the full three points.
Clint Dempsey Can't Be Stopped
We are running out of superlatives to describe the play of Clint Dempsey at the moment.
Dempsey recorded two goals and set up a third strike in Seattle's 4-1 trouncing of Colorado at CenturyLink Field.
The eight goals scored by Dempsey this season are more than the overall total of five clubs (New England, Montreal, Toronto, LA and San Jose).
Dempsey also leads the league in shots (30) and shots on target (14), as his march toward the 2014 FIFA World Cup continues.
Houston's Reliance on Brad Davis Is a Bit Frightening
For the last few years, the Houston Dynamo attack has been run by Brad Davis, and his performance on Sunday against Portland proved just how much the team relies on his presence in midfield.
In the three matches Davis missed because of injury, the Dynamo failed to score a single goal and looked lifeless at times up front.
With Davis back in the fold, he delivered an assist on the lone Houston goal in the 16th minute of the 1-1 draw.
Davis adds another dimension to the attack, but if he goes down again this season, or gets called up to the United States World Cup camp, Houston will have to find someone to replace him, something that failed to happen against New England, Philadelphia and New York.
There Is Still Something Missing in the Philadelphia Attack
Philadelphia manager John Hackworth has tried to get creative with his starting 11 of late by putting different players up front to find some type of attacking impetus.
On Saturday in Montreal, Hackworth tasked the unlikely combination of Danny Cruz and Fabinho to create chances on the wings for forward Andrew Wenger.
The Union did force Impact keeper Troy Perkins into five saves, but a solution to the goal-scoring problem was not found as they fell 1-0 on the road.
Hackworth's side has produced one goal in the last three games, and their schedule does not get any easier, with Seattle, D.C., Sporting Kansas City and New England ahead in May.
Carl Robinson Looks Like a Genius for Now
One manager who did make the right personnel decisions in Week 8 was Vancouver's Carl Robinson.
Robinson inserted Sebastian Fernandez and Nicolas Mezquida into the match against Real Salt Lake down by two goals and in need of a spark.
In the waning moments of the match, both players contributed a goal and earned Vancouver a vital road point at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Not only did the Whitecaps pick up an unlikely road point, they also earned plenty of momentum heading into their Week 9 home clash with San Jose.
New England Has More Defensive Depth Than We Thought
When Jose Goncalves went down with an injury in the first half of the Revolution's April 12 match with Houston, we all thought the team's back four would struggle.
The exact opposite has happened, as New England has conceded just once with the 2013 MLS Defender of the Year out of the lineup.
Andrew Farrell has done well in his transition to center back from the right side of defense, and Darrius Barnes has provided some quality at Farrell's usual starting position.
A.J. Soares has also improved his game with Goncalves out, as he and Farrell helped hold Sporting Kansas City to one shot on target on Saturday night.
A Second Consistent Scorer Will Do Wonders for New York
One concern that the New York Red Bulls had entering this season was the search for a second forward to support Thierry Henry.
Over the last week, the Red Bulls received a massive amount of production from Bradley Wright-Phillips in the form of four goals.
If the Englishman can continue to play well up front in the coming weeks, opposing defenses will have to show more respect in his direction, which will open up more space for Henry.
With the midfield service improving by the week as well, New York could field a formidable attack by the time the season really heats up in the summer.
Jeff Cassar's Managerial Career Is off to a Fine Start
Despite dropping two points at home to Vancouver, Jeff Cassar and Real Salt Lake continued their impressive run to start the season.
The Claret and Cobalt are the only team in the league that hasn't lost a game yet, and with 14 points, they are right in the thick of things in the Western Conference.
With the eight-game unbeaten streak to begin the season, Cassar is the first manager to start his career in that fashion since 1996, per RSL's official Twitter account.
Even though Real Salt Lake has left a few points on the table early in the season, a feat like the one Cassar has achieved has to garner some respect.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.