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The differentiators: Plata, Schuler, Saborio all key in early successes

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Joao Plata, Alvaro Saborio, and Chris Schuler are each having fairly different seasons to this point than they had at this point last season, and it's been very much to our benefit.

Joao Plata is the easiest player to point to on this: He started last season a bit wobbly in the goalscoring department — it took until May 19 for him to find the net once. He had two assists in 2013's first nine games, exactly his contribution in that limited metric thus far. However, his five goals scored have been crucial for our side in our strong start. In fact, he's already scored more this season than he did last season, and he has plenty of time to note more assists in his log.

Alvaro Saborio was only spottily involved in the first nine games last season, with injuries pulling him away. This season, he's been involved in every match from the outset. He'll obviously be gone for a bit in the summer (best of luck to him at that World Cup thing) and we'll miss him, but five goals in nine for him is a great start.

Chris Schuler missed last summer, but he started last season — but he was somewhat error-prone despite all his great qualities. This season, he's basically erased that and been at the heart of many things we do well. We've seen him playing at basically the same level as he left 2013 on, and that's a real accomplishment.

Without the improvements these three have shown — two by form, one by lack-of-injuredness — we'd almost certainly not be undefeated to this point in the season, and the merits some recognition.