Jesus Ferreira makes his case amid Folarin Balogun mania! MLS winners and losers as USMNT striker goes off again for FC Dallas

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Jesus Ferreira Folarin Balogun GFX
The 22-year-old forward put his team on his back against the Vancouver Whitecaps while sending a message to the national team

While American soccer's focus was fixated on an American, born English-raised superstar setting the world on fire in France, there were games played stateside on Wednesday night. And the biggest statement in those games was made by a U.S. men's national team forward, Jesus Ferreira, who showed that he still has plenty to say in a striker race that has been dramatically changed by Folarin Balogun's arrival.

Ferreira wasn't the only superstar on the scoresheet on Wednesday, the first midweek session of the MLS season. Several contenders ran absolutely rampant, with their superstars leading the way. That includes Thiago Almada, Atlanta United's World Cup winner, who continues to find new ways to dazzle as his time in MLS ticks down.

Still, it wasn't all good news, as several struggling teams continued to struggle. A midweek match wasn't a cure for their ailments, and now all involved face a short turnaround before another busy rivalry weekend.

GOAL takes a look at the big winners and losers from Wednesday night's MLS action:

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  1. WINNER: Jesus Ferreira
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    WINNER: Jesus Ferreira

    FC Dallas star Ferreira has been scoring all season, but his brace on Wednesday night felt like it came at an important time. As American soccer raves over their newest recruit, Balogun, Ferreira is having a hell of a season, and drawing European interest himself. Napoli are the latest team to be linked to the 22-year-old, and a move to the Serie A champions would be nothing to sneeze it.

    Ferreira was at his best on Wednesday in a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps, scoring both of his team's goals to lead the charge. He now has eight goals on the young season, tied for second-best in MLS, and he's showing no signs of slowing down.

    Like Ricardo Pepi, Josh Sargent, Daryl Dike and the rest of the USMNT strikers, Ferreira now has a point to prove. Is Balogun's arrival a rising tide that will raise all of the USMNT forward boats? We'll find out, but Ferreira was the first to offer a hell of a response to the upcoming competition.

  2. LOSER: Chicago Fire

    New-ish coach, same Chicago Fire. After a brief high point over the weekend thanks to a win over 10-man St. Louis City SC in Frank Klopas' first game back in charge, the Fire did what they've been doing all season under Ezra Hendrickson on Wednesday night: Squandering leads.

    Playing in Charlotte, the Fire took the lead in the 29th minute thanks to Kacper Przybylko, but it was all downhill from there. Charlotte FC youngster Brandon Cambridge proved to be their undoing, scoring the game-tying and game-winning goal just weeks after being voted Player of the Matchday in MLS Next Pro. It was a superstar performance from a very new face, and one he'll remember for a long, long time.

    The Fire, though, had another night to forget. This team simply can't protect leads, and that has been, and will continue to be, their undoing.

  3. WINNER: Atlanta United

    WINNER: Atlanta United

    When Atlanta United are in this kind of mood, they're downright frightening. The Colorado Rapids were the unfortunate team on the end of the Atlanta bulldozer, falling 4-0 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The wild part is that the Rapids were very much in it, at least until the 80th minute.

    Luiz Araujo scored at that point, making it 2-0 with a goal that, Atlanta will hope, could do wonders for his confidence. Then came one from Tyler Wolff in the 87th and a Giorgios Giakoumakis exclamation point in the 90th.

    The pick of the bunch, though, was the first, which came from none other than Thiago Almada. How could you not put a man on the post on an Almada free-kick? The Rapids found out the hard way what happens when you don't, as the World Cup winner scored yet another stunner.

    Atlanta have had some rough moments, but make no mistake: when this team is on, they are so damn good. Wednesday night provided more evidence of just what this team can be.

  4. LOSER: LA Galaxy
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    LOSER: LA Galaxy

    They simply can't stop the bleeding. It isn't getting any better for the LA Galaxy, who continue to find ways to lose games. The latest defeat came in Columbus, as the Crew sealed a 2-0 win to end their own four-game winless slide.

    The Galaxy seemed to have turned something of a corner, tasting victory in two of their last four after failing to win any of their first seven. But, even after a win over the San Jose Earthquakes over the weekend, a rotated Galaxy team came crashing down to earth.

    Even with the Galaxy chasing, Greg Vanney was still unwilling to put Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez on the field with Dejan Jovelic, instead using the former to replace the latter in the second half. The Galaxy cannot get two of their three best players on the field together, and that will remain a problem going forward.

    Still, despite being a shutout, this one was down to the defense. Efrain Alvarez failed to track back in any meaningful way before Jalen Neal got absolutely destroyed by Lucas Zelarayan for the opener. And, on the second, Lucas Calegari was totally posterized by Malte Amundsen for a close-range header.

    There's no side of the ball where the Galaxy are clicking right now, and that's why they are where they are: at the very bottom.

  5. WINNER: FC Cincinnati
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    WINNER: FC Cincinnati

    FC Cincinnati burst onto the scene in 2022 by beating the absolute snot out of some teams, which is why it was something of a concern to see them ONLY beat teams by one goal early in the season. Well, those concerns seem a long time ago now, as FC Cincinnati finally destroyed somebody.

    Cincy blew out CF Montreal on Wednesday night, clobbering them 3-0 at TQL Stadium. Of their eight wins this season, this was their first by more than one goal, with five of their 12 wins last season being multi-goal wins.

    Their start to the season, which sees them atop the East, has Brandon Vazquez, who scored the third and final goal of the night, fired up. "We have a championship in sight," he said on MLS 360. "I think we have the team to beat anyone in the league. And like I said, we should be winning everything in here, especially with the team we have."

    What makes that claim more plausible is that, last season, Cincy were one of the best teams in the league in turning losses into draws. This season, those draws are becoming wins, and the points are piling up.

    “To be able to not be at our best and still add points up, I think that’s a really important attribute of the team," Vazquez said. “I think that’s what makes the difference between great teams and good teams.”