Major League Soccer returned to full strength over the weekend following the international break.
The race for the Playoff spots is hotting up with no team truly cut adrift, while some of the early strugglers picked up huge results.
But who made the biggest difference for their teams this weekend? Here are 90min‘s top five players from Week 15 of the 2022 MLS season:
Jefferson Savarino is back for Real Salt Lake, and he means business.
The Venezuelan forward completed his return to Utah after a couple of years with Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro. Savarino had been whetting his appetite with a couple of sub appearances but on Saturday, was unleashed from the start in a 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
It was Savarino who finished the job with his first goal back in the 81st minute, running behind the Quakes defense and setting himself for an excellent finish at the far post.
But that was just a snapshot in a performance that saw Savarino create no fewer than four chances with an xA value of 0.29.
RSL are already a force in the West but with Savarino getting into this sort of form, keep an eye on them in the second half of the season.
For the first time since March 19, the Chicago Fire have won a match.
As was the case at the start of the season, Ezra Hendrickson leaned on defense and made his team hard to break down in search of three points and a 1-0 win over DC United was the outcome.
But that victory and clean sheet simply don’t happen without the efforts of center-back Wyatt Omsberg, who made nine recoveries, six clearances, three tackles, three interceptions, as well as winning four of his five aerial duels.
A supreme defensive performance from Omsberg that might just be the catalyst for better days in Chicago.
It felt like the signing of Luquinhas was very much under the radar at the start of the season but the Brazilian has settled nicely in MLS and has developed a particular habit for eye-catching goals.
Luquinhas was at it again on Saturday, looping one over Quentin Westberg to put the New York Red Bulls 2-0 up against Toronto FC, sealing the three points.
Genius goalscoring aside, the 25-year-old put in an all-round excellent performance, creating two chances and contributing out of possession with nine recoveries, three tackles, and two interceptions.
A goalscoring, creative No.10 with defensive capabilities; Luquinhas is the perfect fit for RBNY.
Death, taxes, and Ercan Kara scoring goals, apparently. That seems to be the case, anyway, with the Austrian at the double to seal a 2-1 win for Orlando City against the Houston Dynamo at the weekend, taking his tally for the club to seven in 18 across all competitions – and four in his last four MLS matches.
Kara’s first was an excellent poacher’s finish in the six-yard box to finish a flowing team move. The sort of goal that look simple, but is only easy in reality if you have top-class No.9 instincts – the sort Orlando needed to replace quickly after selling Daryl Dike in January.
Granted, Kara’s second was very fortunate, deflecting a Mauricio Pereyra shot beyond Steve Clark. But the striker was still in a strong position to receive a pass inside the box.
You could also say Kara made his own luck, attempting five shots with an xGOT value of 2.15, while winning three of six ground duels, and making two tackles.
Following Atlanta United’s midweek 3-2 friendly win over Pachuca, Gonzalo Pineda declared Josef Martinez back to ‘100%’. Turns out he wasn’t exaggerating.
The iconic striker truly put Inter Miami to the sword at the weekend, setting up Luiz Araujo on four minutes and scoring himself after 61 to seal a valuable 2-0 win for the Five Stripes.
Martinez looked far more hungry in the final third than he has done over the last couple of years, making runs behind the defense, battling with center-backs, and often dropping between the lines to connect play.
The Venezuelan looks a little lighter and a lot sharper. This has to go down as his best performance in a very, very long time.
Honorable mentions: Luiz Araujo, Maxi Moralez, Dejan Joveljic, Brad Stuver, George Campbell, Talles Magno, Albert Rusnak, Claudio Bravo, Jon Gallagher, Dylan Borrero.