After a few weeks of struggling to score, the floodgates finally and dramatically opened for Sporting KC against Montreal.
The four-goal burst was a reminder that Kansas City, on occasion, can put a flailing opponent to the sword. It was also a timely reminder, as the offensive numbers heading into that match hadn't been far from convincing this season.
At home, KC had failed to score more than one goal in five-straight games (dating back to last season's MLS Cup final). Through seven games this year, KC had scored exactly seven goals in all competitions — and three of those goals came against Colorado in one game.
The four goals nearly doubled Kansas City's "goals for" on the season too. Before the Impact game, KC had scored just five MLS goals.
So, was the Montreal match the beginning of a goal explosion or was it a one-time burst?
History would suggest it's only a one-time burst. So would recent form. Sporting KC is a very strong defensive team capable of an offensive onslaught on occasion, but it's not usually sustainable for long stretches.
Also: It just might be that Montreal are a terrible defensive team. Through seven games, they've allowed an average of two goals per game — the worst mark in the league.
Even still, four-goal victories aren't very common for Kansas City. Since 2004, last Saturday's win against was just the sixth such victory. Kansas City's last 4-0 win was last year against Chivas USA.* That big win to start the month of May was followed up by a four-game stretch against MLS opponents that featured just one victory and only four goals total.* The others: 5-1 vs. Dallas (2004), 4-0 at Columbus (2005), 4-0 vs. Columbus (2006) and 4-0 vs. D.C. United (2010). Conversely, in that same time period, KC lost by at least four goals just twice: 6-1 vs. Dallas (2009) and 4-0 at Philadelphia (2012). The loss to Dallas in '09 was the end of the Curt Onalfo reign and the beginning of Peter Vermes regime.
Since Vermes took over in 2009, KC's average margin of victory is 1.62 goals. That's not terrible for a coach with 64 wins over a little more than three full seasons in charge. But it's more a sign of defensive strength than offensive firepower.
In the club's last 108 games (basically every regular season game since the start of 2011), Sporting KC's defense has posted 39 shutouts — or KC has shutout an opponent in 36 percent of its games. (Real Salt Lake, with ace goalkeeper Nick Rimando leading the way, are slightly ahead of KC with 42 shout outs over its last 109 games as a matter of comparison.)
Defense, not offense, carried the way to the MLS Cup last year too.
During the 2013 campaign, SKC had just seven games with three or more goals (one was the extra-time win over New England in the playoffs) and only six regular-season wins by at least two goals.
By contrast, KC finished last year with 11 one-goal victories.**Five of those were 1-0 wins. That's a pretty common scoreline, as KC also lost five 1-0 games. So, almost 30 percent of KC's games finished 1-0 for its championship season. That's about the pace this year too, as KC has already had two 1-0 results (a win and a loss) through six games.
Salt Lake, for the sake of comparison, had nine games with at least three goals (including once in the playoffs) scored and nine regular-season wins by more than two goals. Fairly typical, but Salt Lake did score 10 more goals in total than Sporting KC.
Chicago, a team that didn't make the playoffs, had six games with at least three goals scored and four wins by at least two goals. (Though, three of those were against D.C. United.) Chicago scored 47 goals, the same as KC.
While history might frown on this being the beginning of something truly special, that's not to take away from the big result and the promise it brings. Especially for Dom Dwyer.
His two goals broke his tie with defender Aurelien Collin for the team lead in goals. They were also both predatory goals by a suddenly in-form striker.
The first goal was the result of a great secondary run by the Englishman. On the second, he drifts into a pocket of space between Montreal's defenders and works to keeps that space for a cushioned header in the six-yard box.
That's encouraging. Over the first six games, that sort of movement had often escaped KC's attack. Either Dwyer would make it to those spots a little late or he'd get there and the cross would go wanting. (Or it was Option C: The team got too fancy and lost the chance entirely.)
Dwyer seems to be operating on instinct on those goals instead of trying too much — like, say, an acrobatic bicycle kick when a simple header will suffice.
Perhaps, as it happened with him in Orlando last season, he just needs a little positive momentum to get going. He's got that now after scoring in three of KC's last four games.
If you haven't looked recently, Dwyer is tied with the likes of Federico Higuain, Robbie Keane and Vicente Sanchez with four goals — good for second in the league behind Clint Dempsey and Erick Torres (both have six).
His goals per 90 minutes is 0.84, which is a better number than Higuain, Keane, Blas Perez and Chris Wondolowski. If he's able to keep scoring at his current rate (about 0.66 goals per game), he's on pace for nearly 20 goals.
Want to take a guess when the last time KC had a 20-goal scorer was?
Try never. The closest KC had in the modern era was Eddie Johnson's 15 goals in 2007.
History is, again, against this as a trend. But the future is unwritten.