29 Takeaways: One thought on every team after Matchday 7

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April is here and we’re getting a better sense of who’s legit (or not) in the 2024 MLS season.

Along the way, what’s the latest we learned about your team in Matchday 7? Let's dive in.

One of the best partnerships in MLS? It might be Giorgos Giakoumakis and Saba Lobjanidze, who combined for the opener in Atlanta's rather comfortable 3-0 dispatch of Chicago. It's even sparked a fun celebration storyline.

Q2 Stadium is one of the best environments in MLS, flooded with green lights when Austin FC score. We just haven't seen it enough lately.

Maybe head coach Josh Wolff's team has turned a corner, though? Last weekend's 2-1 win over Copa Tejas rival FC Dallas snapped a seven-game winless streak for them spanning two seasons.

From the past two matchdays, that's four of six points on offer against Columbus (reigning MLS Cup champs) and Cincinnati (reigning Supporters' Shield champs).

While there's understandable fan frustration about a lack of finishing, I prefer a more optimistic big-picture outlook this early into the Dean Smith era. DP winger Liel Abada only just debuted, too. The Israel international and club-record signing should bring quality in decisive moments.

A cold, hard truth: Chicago have conceded a league-high 13 goals this year. For all the understandable talk about maximizing striker Hugo Cuypers and who becomes their creator-in-chief, that problem needs solving first and foremost.

That backheel pass from DeAndre Yedlin to set up Aaron Boupendza's late equalizer… top class. It also speaks to how Cincy's offense is still a work in progress, a fine place to be when your defense is arguably the best in MLS.

Colorado Rapids logo
Colorado Rapids

Whether Djordje Mihailovic says it explicitly or not, some pressure is off his shoulders. The USMNT No. 10 and club-record signing wasn't impacting the game enough for Colorado (read: box-score stats), missing several gilt-edged chances while settling into Chris Armas' new-look Rapids.

Then came last weekend's 2g/1a performance in a 3-2 comeback win over LAFC. Mihailovic found better spots and made timely plays, boosting belief that their project is heading in the right direction.

Oh Cucho, where art thou?

Crew head coach Wilfried Nancy is tight-lipped on details, but this is 100% a situation worth monitoring. Cucho is a 2024 MVP candidate, posting 43 goal contributions (28g/15a) in 48 league matches since joining the club in the summer of 2022.

FC Dallas logo
FC Dallas

FC Dallas have lost four straight, hamstrung by injuries and devoid of their trademark defensive solidity. Maybe simplicity in structure and tactics is the path forward while those like forward Jesús Ferreira and midfielder Asier Illarramendi recover. Even a draw would go a long way right now.

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D.C. United

One of the most underrated signings of the offseason? When D.C. United acquired defender Aaron Herrera from CF Montréal. The Guatemalan international has been spectacular for Troy Lesesne's new-look squad.

Houston Dynamo FC logo
Houston Dynamo FC

Houston have quietly rattled off three straight wins, steadying their season. This latest one, a 2-1 comeback victory over San Jose, involved Sebastián Ferreira's first Dynamo goal in nearly 18 months. And there are reports that Héctor Herrera could return from injury by mid-April.

"Obviously no disrespect to our opponent, but it feels like a night where we beat ourselves."

That was head coach Steve Cherundolo speaking after LAFC's 3-2 loss at Colorado, when goals from Eduard Atuesta and David Martínez should have been enough. I agree with that assessment, as the Black & Gold let self-inflicted errors rule the day.

By now, it's well-established that Joseph Paintsil is a home-run signing for the Galaxy. The same framework should apply to Gabriel Pec, who had his "welcome to MLS" match over the weekend:

Inter Miami CF logo
Inter Miami CF

Were it not for goalkeeping heroics from Matt Freese, we might be talking about Luis Suárez's third Player of the Matchday performance. He had a game-high eight shots in Inter Miami's 1-1 draw with New York City FC, continuing to carry the attack while Lionel Messi recovers from a hamstring injury.

Minnesota United FC logo
Minnesota United FC

What will Minnesota's preferred XI look like under head coach Eric Ramsay? We need to wait another matchday to find out, as midfield talisman Emanuel Reynoso was away for Matchday 7 sorting his green card. Once that's in hand, will the system adapt to Reyonso or Reynoso adapt to the system? That answer could dictate the Loons' ceiling in 2024.

Montréal are five-sixths of the way through their season-opening road odyssey, sitting on a very respectable seven points (2W-2L-1D) before Saturday's cross-continent trip to face the struggling Seattle Sounders (10:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass). I think it's fair to call this period a success, especially in the early days under head coach Laurent Courtois.

Nashville SC logo
Nashville SC

Nashville fans are surely watching this Aníbal Godoy golazo on repeat…

Brilliance from the Panamanian midfielder aside, last weekend's 2-2 draw with Columbus makes it just one shutout in six games this year. Much of that can be chalked up to missing Walker Zimmerman (knee), but Nashville's longstanding identity is showing a few concerning cracks all the same.

The Revs had a Matchday 7 bye, offering a much-needed reset before their Concacaf Champions Cup series vs. Liga MX titans Club América. Despite their struggles in league play, do they embrace the underdog role in international competition?

New York City FC logo
New York City FC

Mounsef Bakrar is taking a lot of heat from New York City FC fans on social media, yet to score on any of his 17 shots this season. I get the frustrations, and do think the Algerian striker will eventually come good. But at what point does head coach Nick Cushing switch things up? The natural alternate choice is Jovan Mijatović, their rising Serbian international who was acquired this winter for a pretty penny from Red Star Belgrade.

New York Red Bulls logo
New York Red Bulls

For all of RBNY's early-season success, we haven't yet seen the best of John Tolkin. The US international left back was arguably their best player in 2023, and there's another level for him to reach as Sandro Schwarz installs his preferred system. Short version: Let JMi loose in the final third!

Orlando City SC logo
Orlando City SC

Yes, Orlando must figure out how to get more out of Duncan McGuire and Luis Muriel – either together or in isolation. But it's flown under the radar that Facundo Torres is yet to score or assist in 2024. The Uruguayan winger had a team-high 18 goal contributions (14g/4a) last year, plus a team-high 19 goal contributions (9g/10a) upon arriving in MLS two seasons ago.

Philadelphia Union logo
Philadelphia Union

Maybe the best thing for Philly is no longer juggling Concacaf Champions Cup commitments? They've rattled off back-to-back wins, and this latest result (2-0 vs. Minnesota) was yet another data point in how many "plus players" the Union have in their lineup. That's especially true for striker Julián Carranza, who has seven goals in seven matches (all competitions) this season.

Portland Timbers logo
Portland Timbers

What's the balance between attacking fluidity and defensive structure? Portland are yet to solve that riddle under head coach Phil Neville, losing three straight matches.

Nobody doubts the quality Evander, Jonathan Rodríguez & Co. possess, but it's currently overshadowed by lapses in concentration at the back.

Real Salt Lake logo
Real Salt Lake

Cristian Arango since joining Real Salt Lake last summer: 11g/6a in 17 matches. Pretty, pretty good!

Head coach Luchi Gonzalez: "We shot ourselves in the foot."

That about sums it up. San Jose's lack of discipline – avoidable red cards to Preston Judd and Jackson Yueill – was the most worrying thing from their 2-1 loss at Houston. Another set-piece goal was wasted.

The positive: Seattle played their best game this year with Albert Rusnák back in the starting lineup.

The negative: The absence of injured stars Pedro de la Vega and João Paulo continues to loom large, contributing to the club's winless start.

Are brighter days near? Stefan Frei sure seems to think so:

Sporting Kansas City logo
Sporting Kansas City

When traveling to face Toronto, Sporting KC were without star attackers Johnny Russell and Alan Pulido. Cause for alarm? Potentially, but their 3-1 bounceback win was mighty impressive. Also, bangerz only!

Indiana Vassilev, speaking after St. Louis' 3-1 defeat at RSL, didn't mince words: "We're super disappointed. We're angry. And we're looking for a reaction next week because this game left a sour taste in our mouths."

Little's coming easy right now for CITY SC, who this time last year were shocking the MLS world with early triumphs in a historic expansion season. Flash forward to 2024 and they're fighting off a sophomore slump, especially as opponents know what to expect.

Toronto FC logo
Toronto FC

Toronto's first game without Lorenzo Insigne (hamstring) didn't exactly go to plan, suffering a 3-1 defeat to Sporting KC. And there are valid tactics- and personnel-related discussions to be had.

But what I found most interesting? This nugget from John Herdman's postgame presser, signifying a clear shift in mentality at TFC: "That's what I said to them, keeping it quite simple. It can't happen again. It wasn't good enough. But you didn't quit and you played to win and that's important for me."

Vancouver Whitecaps FC logo
Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Ryan Gauld and Fafà Picault were the headliners from Vancouver's 3-2 win over Portland. But us media types are reveling in how head coach Vanni Sartini is back giving postgame press conferences. What a quote!