It was another eventful week in MLS, as Gabriel Heinze is out in Atlanta, Hany Mukhtar set a new record for the fastest hat trick to start a match in MLS history and the Seattle Sounders finally fell from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Let's dive right into this week's edition of 27 Takeaways coming off all the action.
I was initially a little surprised Heinze wasn’t given more time because he never really had a fully fit and available squad for much of the season. With that said, when you fall out with a player who has brought so much joy to the city of Atlanta, and you aren’t winning games, there’s only going to be one winner.
Austin FC have a massive test coming up against a Seattle team that will be trying to return to winning ways. Diego Fagundez was excellent in the last game they won, back on July 1 against the Timbers, and he’s had good showings against the Sounders in the past. They will need Fagundez to be in form if they hope to bring home all three points.
As good and clinical as Nashville were, the Fire only have themselves to blame. Poor defending on multiple goals – easy giveaways and poorly-timed tackles – made it easy for the Nashville attackers to exploit them. They were in a good run of form before this defeat and with two home games coming up, they’ll have a chance to right the ship once again.
When you’re up 4-2 in any game, especially with less than 20 minutes to go, you should expect to win. That’s why the sting of this defeat will linger more than others as the three points – and the chance to extend the unbeaten run to five – were right there for the taking. Next up is Atlanta, and for the first time in a long time, based on how things are going and where the game is being played, Cincinnati are the favorite.
It’s now just one defeat in eight for a Crew team that's slowly but surely inching their way up the table. They’ve missed key players recently for various reasons, but as they get their full squad together over the next few weeks, it’s hard not to see this good run of form continuing.
They came close to ending their strained away form, but they've lost every single match away from Toyota Stadium this season and only managed to score twice away from Frisco. Things may get a little worse before they improve as they head away to a really good Colorado team next.
The Week 13 defeat to Philadelphia should serve as a great reminder of the difference between where they are and where they want to go. Similar possession stats, similar shots and shots on goal, but the Union – as are more of the top teams – were better in both 18-yard boxes. Defensively sound at one end and clinical at the other. That’s the step D.C. still have to take, being clinical on a consistent basis.
Winless since late May, but coming off a two-week break, they should be fresh and motivated for the game against Vancouver. They can definitely create and score against the Whitecaps, the only question is if they have what it takes to play to zero at the other end – no clean sheets in eight.
They’ve lost only once in the last six, and that was away to Sporting Kansas City. LAFC are looking more cohesive and something like their best self. Carlos Vela scored a wondergoal to bring home the points and we shouldn’t be surprised if this is the start of a goal-scoring streak for the league's best player.
The LA Galaxy should be disappointed that they couldn’t hold onto their lead and that they failed to pick up points on a weekend where Seattle finally lost. Another tough challenge awaits them in Utah, but if they have true title aspirations this season, then bouncing back after a defeat must become the norm.
Now sitting dead last in the whole league, this isn't what anyone associated with Inter Miami envisioned when the club began play in 2020. They have no choice but to play their way out of this predicament. A big midweek win would do wonders for morale and at the moment, wins don’t come much bigger than against New England.
Minnesota earned a statement win against one of the top teams in the entire league. Keeping a clean sheet and bouncing back after a defeat in the previous game are also positives from the Allianz Field showing. But most importantly, the Loons are just a couple of wins away from being right back in the mix for the very top seeds.
You win and lose as a team, but it’d be wrong for me to not single out the performance of Hany Mukhtar. His second goal has been on repeat in my house ever since the ball hit the net – the balance, stepovers and calm finish all in one motion were just brilliant to watch. Nashville secured a fantastic team win as capped by some fantastic individual goals.
The Revs got the kind of win that aspiring champions have to get – they simply found a way. They were outshot and out-possessed, but it didn’t matter because they did all they needed to with the possession they did have. Best of all, New England posted a clean sheet after some recent defensive struggles.
RBNY got the weekend off through a weather delay and now they turn their attention to Toronto, who are enjoying a mini resurgence. Gerhard Struber and Co.'s away form hasn’t been great, but they did win at Orlando the last time they traveled and it may take a similar effort to leave Canada with the three points.
Winless in three and now Orlando face a blockbuster fixture against the Union. Any time a team with similar ambitions comes to town, the goal should be to knock them off their perch and show why you’re the better team. Orlando need to do that on Thursday.
Philadelphia were clinical in the attacking third and did enough on the defensive side to run out worthy winners. If they can emerge from this road swing in Florida with six points, I think we'll be talking about the new favorites for the East by this time next week.
I wanted to see Portland's home form improve slightly during this stretch of four home games in the next seven; they got off to a perfect start with a good win against Dallas. Gio Savarese's team is a little lower in the table than they would like, but with the Providence Park crowd behind them as they lock horns against LAFC, I think we'll see the Timbers put in one of their best games of the season.
Real Salt Lake were undone by the genius of Carlos Vela at the weekend and now they host two games this week. They should be aiming for at least four points, if not six, because the chasing pack is hot on their heels. Rio Tinto Stadium does need to become a fortress again; it was always one of the toughest places I had to go and play.
San Jose earned a very good point on the road in Colorado despite giving up the lead. The task doesn’t get easier, though, as they soon travel to face high-flying Sporting. They'll need an even better showing than they gave at the weekend if they’re to return home with any points at all.
In some ways, I’m glad Seattle's unbeaten run is over because now they can focus solely on their true objective, which is always trophies. They knew they’d lose at some point, and the goal wasn’t to go unbeaten – it was to be the last team standing in December. Bouncing back against Austin will be a good way to show that this was a minor blip and nothing more.
Sporting didn’t play, but they would have loved everything they saw take place in Minnesota over the weekend. They got help from others, and now they need to help themselves in the Shield race by getting the expected three points at home to San Jose.
It was refreshing to see Jozy Altidore back among the goals. And while a Shield run may be out of the mix, a good run of form – which they're more than capable of – will have them right in the playoff mix.