Voices: Steve Zakuani

27 Takeaways: One observation on every MLS team after Week 29

We know that New England have locked in the East's No. 1 seed, but the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs plot continues to thicken beyond that.

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.

Austin FC logo
Austin FC

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.

Colorado Rapids logo
Colorado Rapids

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.

FC Dallas logo
FC Dallas

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.

D.C. United logo
D.C. United

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

Houston Dynamo FC logo
Houston Dynamo FC

Houston gave a decent effort in their 4-2 loss at Sporting KC, but the truth is that they were second best throughout. Fifa Picault continues to be the lone bright spot in a tough season.

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.

Inter Miami CF logo
Inter Miami CF

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 United FC logo
Minnesota United FC

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.

CF Montréal logo
CF Montréal

Romell Quioto had yet another huge weekend as they got a crucial three points. After facing Philadelphia at home, they head on the road for three straight, making the Union game increasingly critical to their playoff hopes.

Nashville SC logo
Nashville SC

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.

New England Revolution logo
New England Revolution

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.

New York City FC logo
New York City FC

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.

New York Red Bulls logo
New York Red Bulls

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.

Orlando City SC logo
Orlando City SC

Daryl Dike came up big last weekend and Orlando will need him to remain in form for the next few weeks. Second in the East isn’t out of reach by any means, though it’s no guarantee they’ll catch Nashville with some tough tests remaining.

Philadelphia Union logo
Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia allowed Columbus to dominate the ball but they were extremely efficient when they did have it. Three goals from six shots on target and an Andre Blake clean sheet to go with it were just further signs that they’re back to their best.

Portland Timbers logo
Portland Timbers

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.

Real Salt Lake logo
Real Salt Lake

RSL can’t let the 2-1 defeat to Austin linger in the air too long, as they’re in a real battle to prolong their season. Their hopes are firmly in their hands but they’ll need to find some consistency and avoid the roller-coaster nature of recent results to ensure they play deep into November.

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.

Seattle Sounders FC logo
Seattle Sounders FC

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.

Sporting Kansas City logo
Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC outscored their Texas-based opponents by a combined 7-3 scoreline last week, and it was no surprise to see the usual suspects like Daniel Salloi and Johnny Russell heavily involved. When they play like that, I get the feeling they can explode for three or four goals at any point.

Toronto FC logo
Toronto FC

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 Whitecaps FC logo
Vancouver Whitecaps FC

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.