Here's this week's edition of 27 takeaways, one observation on every MLS team coming off all the action in Week 29.
Atlanta have stumbled slightly to eighth place, but their destiny is largely still in their hands. There are no easy games in MLS, yet the Five Stripes won’t be complaining that none of their remaining games are against any of the Eastern Conference’s current top five teams.
The rest of 2021 is just about building confidence and momentum for next season, and Austin FC’s last two home results are helping with that. Cecilio Dominguez is a player who will hope to have a more consistent second season in MLS and hopefully the confidence gained from his brace will help with that.
Chicago fell to another disappointing loss and became the latest club to make a coaching change. Roster turnover seems inevitable because they’ve simply underperformed far too often in a season that could have been so much more.
Last weekend was more of the same for an FC Cincinnati team in need of a major reset this offseason. They may have only lost by one goal, but you simply can’t allow an away team to have 17 shots in your home.
How will Colorado respond to last weekend’s heavy loss at Seattle? When a long unbeaten run comes to an end, one defeat can easily turn into two or three and that’s something they can’t afford – not with Portland right on their heels for third in the Western Conference standings. They need to bounce back right away.
It’s not a stretch to say that Columbus will need to win at least four of their last six to make the playoffs, as well as needing help from other teams and praying that some results go their way. Even that may not be enough for the defending MLS Cup champions.
I’m tempted to say that FC Dallas are far too good on paper to be winless in seven games. However, the reality is that they simply haven’t shown that they are. Having potential is one thing; turning that into forward progress is an entirely different beast.
The good news is that D.C. United’s next two games are at home as they look to put last weekend’s defeat at Orlando behind them. The less pleasant news is that those games are against Nashville and New England – they don’t get much harder than that. I think Hernan Losada’s team should be happy to be facing those two teams because if they don’t bring the best out of you, then you probably won’t do much in the playoffs anyway
Their home game against San Jose after October’s international break is a must-win. To be clear: Three points may still not be enough in the long run, but a defeat would surely signal the end of any remaining playoff hopes.
Based on the way LA started the season, you’d never have guessed that they’d be fighting for their playoff lives come October. But that’s exactly what Greg Vanney’s team is doing and it’s because they’ve conceded too often and too easily. The Galaxy’s defensive concerns remain.
A few weeks ago it looked as though Miami had a great chance at making the playoffs, but it’s all gone horribly wrong as they’ve now lost four in a row. They had a good middle of the season, and now it looks like a poor start and poor ending will be too much to overcome.
Minnesota’s home form has been strong all season and with four of their last seven being at Allianz Field, the equation is simple: win your home games and you’re in the playoffs. Loons fans should take comfort in that.
Nashville got their 12th clean sheet of the season at NYCFC last weekend and when you defend how they do, you always give yourselves a chance at least a point. Second in the East isn’t completely guaranteed yet, as I believe they still need another 8-10 points to secure that position.
Records are meant to be broken and when you get this close to one, you need to do all you can to make it yours. The regular season points total should be what’s on New England’s mind from here on out as it serves two purposes. It both ensures their place in history and that they don’t take their foot off the pedal before the playoffs.
Just one win in eight, and that was against FC Cincinnati. To say that NYCFC need to get back to winning ways ASAP would be a gross understatement. The next game is against their rival, so there are both bragging rights and a much-needed three points at stake.
This four-game unbeaten run has kept RBNY’s slim postseason hopes alive. They still need to rely on others, though, so the club’s 11-year playoff streak hangs in jeopardy. Defensively they’ve impressed lately and that’s what spurred their good form – three clean sheets in five.
Portland look formidable at both ends of the pitch at the moment. Few would bet against them overtaking Colorado for third in the West, and some may even believe they can get as high as second. Regardless of where they end up, no one wants to face them in the playoffs.
It wasn’t a good week in Earthquakes country, as some of their bad habits resurfaced and led to two defeats and six goals conceded. They’ve got a real fight on their hands if they’re to climb back above the West’s red line, and they simply cannot afford to lose at LAFC after the international break.
Joao Paulo scored a tremendous goal to cap a super impressive week for the club. Three games – two of them away from home, one of them against their closest challengers – produced three wins, and Seattle remain on course for first place in the West.
Four games unbeaten, six goals in their two games. Toronto FC’s playoff hopes may long be over, but they’re at least showing that they know how to play for pride – and their jobs.
Vancouver have fared extremely well to knock on the West playoff door, and now it all comes down to their next three games: at Seattle, home vs. Sporting, at Portland. If they can somehow emerge from that stretch with their hopes intact, they’d have done extremely well.