FRISCO, Texas — Could the Jeff Cunningham who scored goals at a torrid pace to win the 2009 Budweiser Golden Boot be back?
The veteran scorer netted his 10th goal of 2010 in the 82nd minute of FC Dallas' 3-1 defeat of Kansas City on Saturday night.
Not only did the goal pad Dallas' lead, but also it put Cunningham at 131 career MLS goals, which is just one shy of tying Jaime Moreno for the most in league history.
More important to FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman, though, is that Cunningham is showing some of his best form of the season so far.
“I just talked to Jeff and said this was the best game I’ve seen you play since last year,” Hyndman said on Monday. "For whatever reason — the temperament, the lack of confidence or the playing time or just the uncomfortable feeling — I don’t think we’ve seen the best out of Jeff this year."
Saturday’s goal capped a big week for Cunningham.
He also scored a game-tying goal in stoppage time on Wednesday against New England that earned Dallas a tie to keep their unbeaten streak alive. FCD have not lost in 17 games.
“That was the first time I’ve seen the old Jeff,” he said. “When I say the old Jeff, I mean the player that I remember last year when he was at his best. He was quick, strong, had great vision, he was laying some great balls off and then he scores a goal. Hopefully that continues.”
Exactly half of his goals in 2010 have come off the bench, which is a sharp departure from recent history for the striker. Three of his goals this year have been game-winners while two have been game-tying tallies that allowed his team to get a point.
Whether or not he’s in the first XI in Saturday's home fixture against Chicago, Cunningham will likely see the field — especially since in 31 career games against the Fire, he has 19 goals and 9 assists.
FCD can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Chicago this weekend. They can also secure their postseason with a tie and help from New York, who play the Wizards on Saturday.