Voices: Steve Zakuani

27 Takeaways: One observation on every MLS team after Week 15

In MLS Week 15, we saw the latest FC Dallas young star make league history and an emphatic victory for New York City FC, among plenty of other storylines.

Here's this week's edition of 27 Takeaways, one observation on every MLS team as the marathon continues.

Atlanta have struggled to score all year long despite creating chances. Much like Carlos Vela, once Josef Martinez gets his next goal, he will likely go on a run. In the meantime, they desperately need their other big-name players to step up – primarily Marcelino Moreno, who is having a very underwhelming season so far.

Austin FC logo
Austin FC

There’s no doubt in my mind that Austin got a little too confident – probably not intentionally – when they saw the Sounders lineup for last Thursday’s matchup. In the end, they were beaten at home by a group predominately featuring academy and reserve players, which has to sting. Seeing themselves at the bottom of the Western Conference standings should also sting. The next two home games are massive if they want to stay in the playoff conversation.

Chicago's recent good form has deserted them, as they’re now winless in three. The current problem is very simple – they're conceding way too many goals and don’t have the firepower to keep pace at the other end. That's all despite, in a 2-1 loss to Toronto, creating 3.6 expected goals and 31 shots (14 on target).

Old habits die hard, as the defensive frailties Cincinnati have long exhibited reared their ugly head over the weekend. They hadn't been shut out in six games, but managed zero shots on target against Nashville to make it a bad day at the office all around.

Colorado Rapids logo
Colorado Rapids

It’s important that Colorado don't dwell on the drubbing they received in Utah. They have a real chance to do something special this season, and part of being a great team is the ability to bounce back immediately after a bad result. The Rapids' upcoming trip to Austin will teach us a lot about the strength of character in Robin Fraser’s locker room.

Back-to-back clean sheets to go with a hard-fought win on the road will please the fans. All current signs point to Columbus being built for the long haul – they haven’t been spectacular, but they're efficient and finding a way. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them fighting for the East's top seed by the end of August.

FC Dallas logo
FC Dallas

Ricardo Pepi made history with a great hat trick that helped snap a string of three defeats. His form, especially at home, has been sensational recently. But FC Dallas' away form has been a nightmare all year long – and so the visit to Sporting KC will be a daunting task, but also a chance to score a season-defining win.

D.C. United logo
D.C. United

D.C. United's first clean sheet in five games brought with it three much-needed points, and fans will be smiling about the form of Ola Kamara. He's scored in each of their last three games and has six in their last seven.

Houston Dynamo FC logo
Houston Dynamo FC

Houston are back at home after three away games in which they picked up two points. Winless since late May, this coming weekend's showdown with Real Salt Lake is a must-win, even if it’s just for a morale and confidence boost. They must snap this poor run of form ASAP.

Not a great week by LAFC's standards, but they now have two upcoming home games where six points can put them firmly back in the mix for the West's top-three. The recent form of Carlos Vela will be a very welcome sight for everyone involved at the club.

The Galaxy sit still third in the Western Conference table, but it’s been eight games without a clean sheet – and that’s their biggest problem right now. They still concede too many goals to realistically sustain a challenge for the top seed.

Inter Miami CF logo
Inter Miami CF

Not much has gone right for Inter Miami on and off the pitch this season. A playoff spot is looking harder to grab, and the front office already needs to start looking ahead to 2022. In the meantime, the mission now has to be about saving pride and becoming a competitive team by making it clear that every player is fighting for their job.

Minnesota United FC logo
Minnesota United FC

Minnesota's form over the last 10 games has been extremely impressive. Making up for the poor start they had wasn’t going to be easy, but they’ve found a defensive stability that's been the foundation for this ascent up the Western table.

CF Montréal logo
CF Montréal

A couple of defeats have dampened the mood Montréal were in after the great run they’d been having. While I strongly feel that they’re a playoff team, how they respond over the next few games will determine if they can actually do something if they get to the dance.

Nashville SC logo
Nashville SC

Clean sheets aren't new for this team, but an abundance of goals are. Fifteen goals scored in their last seven games have helped them to second place in the Eastern Conference standings. CJ Sapong has also been in really good form and chipped in with a brace against Cincinnati.

New England Revolution logo
New England Revolution

A good win against Montréal added to New England's nice recent run of three wins on the bounce. Gustavo Bou’s two goals took his season tally to nine in 14 games. It’s impressive to see any team holding a seven-point conference lead at this point of the season, and now they're atop the Supporters' Shield race as well.

New York City FC logo
New York City FC

NYCFC needed to get back to winning ways, and they did it in style – five goals, 23 shots and a clean sheet. To accomplish it against a good team like Orlando gave us a glimpse of how high this team's ceiling can be. It’s always nice to have five different goal-scorers as well.

New York Red Bulls logo
New York Red Bulls

RBNY are on the outside of the playoff race looking in after a defeat at the weekend, making it a three-game winless streak. They don’t score enough and that may be the issue that keeps them from getting over the red line.

Orlando City SC logo
Orlando City SC

Although Orlando are still third in the East, they've only won once in five games and were resoundingly beaten at the weekend. Their next two are at home, which could bring with it a much-needed turnaround in form.

Philadelphia Union logo
Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia are too good of a team to have only one win in six, form that's seen them slip down to fourth in the East. There’s nothing to be worried about, they will be fine. And with four of their next five in the friendly confines of Subaru Park, I expect to see them go on a winning run.

Portland Timbers logo
Portland Timbers

In some moments, Portland look breathtaking and like a sure lock for the playoffs. In others, they look extremely beatable. They’re going to need to sustain a good run of form to get over that red line and stay there – they’re far too inconsistent.

Real Salt Lake logo
Real Salt Lake

Both Bobby Wood and Rubio Rubin got on the scoresheet against Colorado, which is a great sign since RSL need to up their scoring output to continue climbing the table. Plus, getting three goals from five shots is nearly as efficient as you can get.

The good news is that San Jose have stopped the bleeding. But they’re also still not winning – it’s been four straight draws and their next challenge is a trip to one of the toughest venues in MLS: Seattle’s Lumen Field. Remarkably, they’re still only a couple of wins away from being back in the playoff race.

Seattle Sounders FC logo
Seattle Sounders FC

Seattle's massive high from winning at Austin was wiped away by defeat to SKC. The effects of having a thin squad are starting to show, and the goal has to be to maintain their position as much as possible until the likes of Nicolas Lodeiro, Nouhou and Stefan Frei can return from injury.

Sporting Kansas City logo
Sporting Kansas City

SKC recorded their biggest win of the season, sending a message to the rest of the Western Conference. It came as no surprise that Johnny Russell was in the thick of the action, recording a goal and an assist in their impressive win at Seattle.

Toronto FC logo
Toronto FC

Toronto will be desperate to keep their solid run going and play themselves back into playoff contention, but they must take it one game at a time. Despite facing a barrage of shots and ceding most of the possession at Chicago, they were clinical when it counted.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC logo
Vancouver Whitecaps FC

For the second time in three games, both Deiber Caicedo and Cristian Dajome got on the scoresheet. Vancouver will be disappointed at letting let their lead slip away, but the bigger picture says it’s now three games unbeaten. Surely that's boosted the team spirit in the camp.