29 Takeaways: One thought on every team after Matchday 5


Your eyes weren't deceiving you: There were goals galore – 47, to be exact – in Matchday 5. Not a bad weekend for games to be free to watch on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

Let's break down what we learned, ranging from New York City FC's gut-check win to LAFC's struggles.

Giorgos Giakoumakis in Atlanta United colors: 35 games across all competitions, 23 goals. The dude's incredible.

Sebastián Driussi made his season debut in the 2-2 draw vs. the Philadelphia Union, subbing on for the last 19 minutes. Here's to hoping the Argentine attacker can provide a spark in Austin FC's, to date, underwhelming season.

I thought that Djibril Diani, rather quietly, was dependable in his Charlotte FC debut. Phrased another way: It was a strong start from the French midfielder, who introduced signs of a budding partnership with Ashley Westwood.

For far too long, Chicago have grown synonymous with crumbling late in games. But the Fire flipped that script in Saturday's absolutely bonkers 4-3 comeback win over CF Montréal – sealed by Kellyn Acosta's cross/shot getting carried past Jonathan Sirois via a gale-force wind.

We'll let esteemed meteorologist Andrew Wiebe explain further:

Luciano Acosta is deservedly getting praised for his game-changing performance in last weekend's 2-1 win at New England. The reigning MVP came off the bench to provide 1g/1a, giving the defending Supporters' Shield winners a big early-season result.

But the most impressive part, in my view, was center backs Miles Robinson and Matt Miazga (with help from goalkeeper Roman Celentano) doing just enough to earn three points. The USMNT pool defenders carried heavy legs after a Champions Cup defeat midweek at Monterrey, then their experience and savviness shone through.

Colorado Rapids logo
Colorado Rapids

It's easy to focus on the missed penalty kick, but let's not fixate too much. Djordje Mihailovic had his best game yet since returning to MLS, a much-needed development if the Rapids are to turn things around. So much rests on their No. 10 and club-record signing pulling the strings.

We often use the word "inevitable" to describe Lionel Messi and Inter Miami, but I think it similarly applies to the Columbus Crew under Wilfried Nancy.

Cucho Hernández as the league's most dynamic No. 9. Aidan Morris and Darlington Nagbe bossing the midfield. Diego Rossi making slashing runs. Steven Moreira and Malte Amundsen as ball-playing center backs.

This team offers so many ways to wreak havoc on the opponent, like we saw in their 3-0 rout of a very good New York Red Bulls team. MLS Wrap-Up went into greater detail:

FC Dallas logo
FC Dallas

This quote from FC Dallas center back Nkosi Tafari, amid a three-game losing skid, was rather telling:

“There's just a severe lack of intensity from the start, and then you're gonna punch first or get hit. And we keep getting punched first. It's hard to come back when you're down two goals, one goal or three goals. We haven't scored first in any game this season yet, so it's kind of hard to win with that kind of an outcome.”

How do they respond?

D.C. United logo
D.C. United

I really like what Matti Peltola's brought to D.C. United as a destroyer-type central midfielder. But so much (read: arguably too much) hinged on him disrupting Inter Miami during the hosts' eventual 3-1 defeat at Audi Field. Against high-level opponents, the Finnish international will need more help in disrupting their build-up play.

Houston Dynamo FC logo
Houston Dynamo FC

Houston need help in the final third, but don't lose sight of Aliyu Ibrahim posting 2g/1a in three games this year. The Nigerian forward is halfway to matching his 2023 goal contributions total, stepping up big-time as Sebastián Ferreira and Héctor Herrera recover from injuries.

LAFC's tepid start is more complicated than this, but it's worth highlighting how Dénis Bouanga hasn't scored yet in 2024. With two open DP spots, and a cadre of young attackers who are hit/miss, the reigning Golden Boot presented by Audi winner faces extra pressure to carry the burden.

As a result: LAFC are one of three teams with an MLS-worst two goals scored this year.

Joseph Paintsil is a problem, and I mean that in the best possible way.

The LA Galaxy did great work in the transfer market when landing the Ghana international from Belgium's Genk for reportedly a near-$9 million fee. So far, he's more than living up to that price tag.

Inter Miami CF logo
Inter Miami CF

One day, Inter Miami very well might transfer Diego Gómez to Europe for $10+ million. Maybe even Federico Redondo. The U22 Initiative midfielders are that good.

For now, the youngsters do tons of heavy lifting in midfield to give Luis Suárez and Lionel Messi (when healthy) the platform to shine. That, mixed in with their skill, is so much fun to watch.

Also, we'd be remiss not to shout out Leonardo Campana and his strong showing in the No. 9 role. Inter Miami are going to need more big-time performances from him this year.

Minnesota United FC logo
Minnesota United FC

Back in preseason, Minnesota seemed set for a long year. They had no full-time head coach, their sporting director wasn't in market, and their transfer-market maneuvering wasn't exactly making headlines.

Flash forward to four games and they're atop the Western Conference on 10 points, manager Eric Ramsay won on his debut, star midfielder Emanuel Reynoso is only just returning from injury, and they're pressing teams with cohesive, purposeful direction.

Life's (very) good in the Twin Cities.

From 3-1 up to 4-3 losers, there was plenty for Montréal to be frustrated about Saturday afternoon at Soldier Field. And due to a variety of factors, the game was almost beyond analysis. It was that wild.

But I still think they could have (and should have) left with at least a point. As midfielder Samuel Piette said, "We were in control and in the end it all got away from us."

Nashville SC logo
Nashville SC

Sam Surridge was awesome in Saturday's 2-1 win over Charlotte FC, showing glimpses of his upside as a DP striker. It wasn't just the glanced header – it was link-up play, working hard defensively and making dangerous runs.

All preseason, the Revs were talked about as a trophy-contending team. And they still might get there, especially with a Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinal opportunity ahead – though it doesn't get much harder than a series vs. Liga MX powerhouse Club América.

Yet, for now, it's four games and four losses in the league. Something is clearly missing, and head coach Caleb Porter has an early temperature check:

"I don't know what happened to start the second half," Porter said after their 2-1 home defeat to Cincy. "For me, that's the big question I have, and that's the question I asked them. How do we, in a home game where we're playing well, do we start the second half that poor? And what changed?

"For me, it's the mentality, it needs to be stronger. And in front of our supporters, we [concede] two goals, and now we're in a hole. And then all of a sudden, the mentality changes. So, for me, that tells me everything I need to know. We have to work on the mentality of this group, because we lost the game because we started the second half poor."

Porter, to his credit, said the buck stops with him.

New York City FC logo
New York City FC

Nick Cushing, at times, struck a defiant tone after New York City FC's first win of 2024, a 2-1 comeback victory over Toronto FC.

For a sense of the psychological boost it offered, I suggest watching the below video and reading this quote from center back Birk Risa in its entirety:

“Amazing. It was much needed. I think everyone showed great character. Of course, it's been digging on us to not get a win, but we got one down. They scored on us after seven minutes, so it's easy to fall apart and be like, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ But I think everybody showed really good character of themselves and of the team. There is a big spirit in the team, so I am really proud of the guys that we could turn it around.”

New York Red Bulls logo
New York Red Bulls

I don't know if it's accurate to say the Red Bulls were humbled in their 3-0 defeat at Columbus, but the truth lies awfully close to that. Just ask midfielder Emil Forsberg, who stressed it's a lesson learned:

"It was a lesson for us today," the captain said postgame. "I think we lost against a better team, no question about it. I think it's okay to have these kinds of losses. Sometimes you have them in a season. The most important thing is for us now to bounce back and how we bounce back."

Orlando City SC logo
Orlando City SC

Now that Orlando are out of the Concacaf Champions Cup, they should emerge from this early-season slump… right? They certainly have the talent to. It's too early to throw the towel in on this team.

Philadelphia Union logo
Philadelphia Union

The Union needed a bounce-back performance after a, uh, disappointing exit from the Concacaf Champions Cup. A 2-2 draw at Austin FC gave them a passing grade in that respect. Now there's another huge test in Matchday 6, with eight players heading away on international duty.

Portland Timbers logo
Portland Timbers

The Timbers had 2.4 expected goals (xG) to Houston's 1.4. And that matches the eye test; Portland were the more dangerous team in their 1-0 defeat at Shell Energy Stadium.

That makes striker the missing link for Phil Neville's early days in Portland – putting urgency on completing the widely-reported deal for Club América striker Jonathan Rodríguez. Surely, Cabecita would have finished one or two of those chances.

Real Salt Lake logo
Real Salt Lake

RSL were on a bye in Matchday 5. Carry on.

San Jose tried something different last weekend, using Preston Judd and Jeremy Ebobisse as strikers in a 4-4-2 formation. It didn't quite pan out, but at least the Earthquakes are seeking solutions to emerge from this four-loss start to open the season. I'm just not sure what gets them moving forward.

This winter, some Sounders fans were quick to write off Raúl Ruidíaz – or at least want his DP spot opened for roster-building purposes. But last weekend offered a reminder of the Peruvian striker's quality, ranging from his cheeky Panenka-style penalty kick to link-up play. He's still got plenty of quality and a key role to play in Seattle's 2024 season.

Sporting Kansas City logo
Sporting Kansas City

Alan Pulido. Champagne football. 2-1 win. Sporting KC, at their best, are so aesthetically pleasing to watch.

"It's the kind of thing that you work on tirelessly and then when you see it happen like that, you're pretty pleased," manager Peter Vermes said post-game at Children's Mercy Park.

"When I turned around, the entire staff was like, 'Now we're talking.' It was a great goal. It was as if at those moments, through that sequence, they were chasing shadows, just because we were moving off the ball."

Sure, Roman Bürki allowed three goals. But anybody who watched St. Louis CITY's 3-3 draw at LA Galaxy knows he was a man-of-the-match candidate. The reigning Goalkeeper of the Year made some unreal stops to help the visitors earn a point.

Toronto FC logo
Toronto FC

John Herdman has admirably empowered Toronto FC, getting buy-in from stars and youngsters alike. But that only goes so far when the injury bug looms large. To name a few: They were down Sean Johnson, Richie Laryea, Raoul Petretta and Jonathan Osorio at NYCFC – testing squad depth and their next-man-up mentality.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC logo
Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Vancouver are at their best when Brian White is playing as an out-and-out striker. Accordingly, White had 1g/1a in Saturday's 3-1 win at FC Dallas. These things are not a coincidence.