Voices: Steve Zakuani

27 Takeaways: One observation on every MLS team after Week 24 

Gonzalo Pineda has his first win as a head coach, FC Cincinnati have their first win at TQL Stadium and LAFC had their fastest-ever goal to start an MLS match as part of a milestone-filled week in MLS in Week 24.

Here is this week's edition of 27 Takeaways, one observation on every MLS team coming off all the action.

Five wins in six, and this latest one may have been the most impressive of the bunch as they took apart a good Orlando side. Fans should continue to be excited about Ezequiel Barco, who once again showed that he’s beginning to make the leap from potential to consistent impact.

Austin FC logo
Austin FC

Austin FC sit at the bottom of the West and a quick glance at their recent form will tell you why. No clean sheets in 12 games is a recipe for disaster — they’ve conceded 10 in the last three games alone.

There’s no shame in losing to Sporting Kansas City, especially at Children's Mercy Park. But the manner of defeat has to be a slight disappointment as the game was over within the first 10 minutes. Despite a late flurry of chances, the Fire never really looked like winning and this defeat now makes the midweek trip to D.C. that much bigger.

A win and a clean sheet is always cause for celebration, even more so when it’s the first win in your home stadium. It’s been a tough season in many ways, but hopefully this win can spark a good run of form to end the year.

Colorado Rapids logo
Colorado Rapids

The Rapids will be disappointed with the two points dropped, as they failed to put more daylight between themselves and a direct rival. But the overall picture still looks very good as three of Colorado's next four are at home — giving them a real chance to pick up a lot of points.

No one would have guessed Columbus would go through a phase of one win in nine games and it’s in their best interests to look ahead and not dwell on what’s happened. The Crew have struggled for goals all year, and that’s the one area they need to instantly improve with games against RBNY and a trip to red hot New England.

FC Dallas logo
FC Dallas

Currently outside of the playoff spots, Dallas face a tough run of three games away from Frisco that may make or break their season. The goal should be to emerge from this run of games with four points, at least, because they’ll then have five of the next six at home, giving them a real chance to put some points on the board.

D.C. United logo
D.C. United

D.C. United responded well after going behind to just about keep themselves in a playoff spot. If they can get a win in midweek against Chicago, that’ll be seven points from three games. With three of their next four at home, this is a prime opportunity to create some breathing room from the chasing pack.

Houston Dynamo FC logo
Houston Dynamo FC

A win, finally. In the same way that losing is contagious, so is winning. Can they use the belief and confidence gained from the victory over Austin to mount a late-season surge? If they are to do so, Fafa Picault — a bright spot all year long — will have to continue leading the charge.

LAFC got a much-needed win to stay within touching distance of the red line and the Cristian Arango show is fully in town. Four goals in his last three games and now MLS Player of the Week – so far he has been everything LAFC fans would’ve hoped he’d be.

The Galaxy still sit in a good position but Portland are gaining on them and it’s time they got back to winning consistently — they’ve won just once in six. With Chicharito back in the fold, the goals should start flowing again soon.

Inter Miami CF logo
Inter Miami CF

Three straight clean sheets and another impressive win for Miami. Gonzalo Higuain will grab the headlines but this was a team effort through and through. It wasn’t pretty, but it was efficient, which is all they need to keep doing. One thing is clear, Phil Neville’s side have a clearer identity now than at any other point in the clubs existence.

Minnesota United FC logo
Minnesota United FC

They’re not used to losing, so it’ll be important for the Loons to bounce back right away and get back on another run. Franco Fragapane just returned, though flattered to deceive against Seattle. He’ll need to rediscover his end product soon to up his team’s odds of having the ending to the season they’re hoping for.

CF Montréal logo
CF Montréal

While the result against Nashville was disappointing, Montréal played well enough to remain encouraged about their prospects. Recent form is good, and still sitting seventh in the East, they should feel positive heading into a massive clash against Orlando.

Nashville SC logo
Nashville SC

An impressive season continues to roll on following a gusty win over Montréal. What Nashville do defensively is a thing of beauty — well organized and extremely committed. They've still lost just two games this season, and belief continues to build about what they can ultimately accomplish.

New England Revolution logo
New England Revolution

Tajon Buchanan boosted his already blossoming reputation with another sensational finish. The Revs continue to be the class of the league as they once again showcased an ability to win despite falling behind to a strong NYCFC team.

New York City FC logo
New York City FC

Their last two games have come against the best two teams in the East and they’ve lost both, perhaps a sign that they're a level below where they’ll ultimately need to get to. Ronny Deila's team will be keen to keep pace with Orlando, and a win against FC Dallas on Tuesday (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+) will be the expectation inside the camp.

New York Red Bulls logo
New York Red Bulls

It’s been six games since RBNY scored more than once in a game, a big reason why they sit so far beneath the red line. The silver lining is that they have games in hand on the teams above them — an opportunity to make up some ground.

Orlando City SC logo
Orlando City SC

It was one of those days, as they were well beaten in Atlanta and never got out of second gear. But they’ll need to rebound with confidence during a tough run against Montréal, Philadelphia, New England and Nashville that closes out September.

Philadelphia Union logo
Philadelphia Union

Winless in their last three, the Union had a much-needed bye week before their Concacaf Champions League semifinal second leg on Wednesday against Club America. But they'll be back at home against Orlando this weekend in a game critical to their hopes of climbing up the East table. Usually a very good home team, they’ve dropped points in their last two at Subaru Park.

Portland Timbers logo
Portland Timbers

It’s almost as if the 6-2 defeat to Seattle was the spark they needed. Since then, they have looked formidable and something like the Timbers we’d been waiting on all season. Three straight clean sheets in their last three games – doubling their season total – tells you all you need to know about their current form.

Real Salt Lake logo
Real Salt Lake

The loss against LAFC will sting because it allowed their opponent to close the gap in the table and prevented RSL from capitalizing on Minnesota’s defeat. That result also makes the game against San Jose that much more important, as they need to win to create separation in the West.

A win against RSL will put them level on points with the team currently occupying the last playoff spot. That should be all the motivation needed to put on a show in front of their fans and get the three points.

Seattle Sounders FC logo
Seattle Sounders FC

A huge win against Minnesota keeps the Sounders on top of the West. The return of Stefan Frei and Nouhou is an ominous sign for the rest of the league, as Seattle will only get better as they get healthier. They’ll need to be at their best as they go away from Lumen field for their next three fixtures.

Sporting Kansas City logo
Sporting Kansas City

Sporting bounced back well from the drubbing they got at LAFC. It was a win befitting a team with title aspirations — efficient and professional. With Colorado hot on their heels, they’ll need to keep winning to not only keep pace with the Sounders, but to keep the Rapids at bay.

Toronto FC logo
Toronto FC

It’s time to start looking ahead to next season. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t compete in every game and try to win, but it’s very much a case of the club figuring out who will remain in Toronto beyond 2021 – and the players proving whether they should be considered or not.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC logo
Vancouver Whitecaps FC

There’s no time to dwell on the defeat to a Cascadia rival, as they face a massive challenge away to Colorado. Still in the mix for a playoff spot, Vancouver's away form has been very good – and they’ll need to keep that going since that’s where two of their next three will be.