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29 Takeaways: One thought on every team after Matchday 9

April 15, 2024, by Jonathan Sigal | Courtesy of

That clocked in as the fourth-largest standalone attendance in MLS history (third if just counting the regular season). Nights like that never get old, no matter how many milestones we witness.

Atlanta United

Few youngsters have more upside in MLS than 19-year-old Caleb Wiley. And thus we present the left back's first Atlanta United goal in roughly nine months:

That moment made this quote from head coach Gonzalo Pineda all the more interesting:

"I am really happy for him, especially because of the buildup style [of play] we have, I am sacrificing some of the tools that he has in his game, such as attacking," Pineda said. "But he is doing a great job of being disciplined and attacking by surprise, getting into stretches where he gets into the primary zones as well. Today is a reward for a kid who has been very disciplined in what we ask for."

Austin FC

Austin FC have attempted a measly seven shots (two on target) in their three road matches this year. Is that more system-related or personnel-related? A combination?

Charlotte FC

I thought Andrew Wiebe put it best on MLS Wrap-Up, highlighting the efficiency and ruthlessness Liel Abada showed when opening his Charlotte FC account in their 3-2 win over Toronto.

We should expect no less from the Young DP and club-record signing, who arrived from Celtic FC for reportedly a near-$8 million transfer fee.

Chicago Fire FC

Chicago played 48 minutes (plus stoppage time) up a man, but couldn't make it count. Life's seldom easy for opponents at Red Bull Arena, but it's yet another missed opportunity for their remade squad.

FC Cincinnati

FC Cincinnati have suffered back-to-back league losses for the first time since May 2022. That reflects their growth, but also how the reigning Supporters' Shield winners are integrating five new starters.

"I wouldn't say I'm overly concerned because of where we're at," head coach Pat Noonan said after a 2-1 loss at Montréal. "But to say there's no concern would be false. It's trying to find our best group, with our 11. It's trying to find the relationships, it's trying to put guys into a position to succeed, and that starts with me. That isn't happening consistently enough."

Colorado Rapids

The Rapids must decide this summer if they exercise the purchase option on DP striker Rafa Navarro (his original deal was a 12-month loanfrom Brazilian side Palmeiras). With 4g/2a in eight games, he could force their hand sooner rather than later – providing a strong focal point for Cole Bassett and Djordje Mihailovic to play off of.

Columbus Crew

Columbus needed 120 minutes and penalty kicks on Tuesday to advance past Tigres in the Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinals.

So while they're four games winless in league play, a 0-0 draw at Real Salt Lake with a heavily rotated lineup (on short rest) is a huge positive.

FC Dallas

The good news: Jesús Ferreira and Asier Illarramendi are on the mend for FC Dallas, potentially giving their squad a boost.

The bad news: A whole lot else! You can sense the frustration from head coach Nico Estévez, who explained further after their 0-0 draw vs. Seattle.

“Quality. A lot of quality," Estévez said about what's missing in attack. "This is what I told the guys. But not only quality, technical execution on the shots because we had 12 shots, but only two were on target. In the first half, most of the situations we had, they were open to shoot and they would pass. And then in the second half, most of the situations they should have passed, and then we shot.

"We improved in certain areas that we were lacking. And from there, we have to grow. I think we had to fix one thing, now it’s the moment to fix the other thing."

D.C. United

D.C. United are a joy to watch, and Christian Benteke's a clear Golden Boot contender. But they've got one win in their last seven games. Soon, the results have to align with the performance.

Houston Dynamo FC

What if, back in September, we told you that Houston would be third in the Western Conference as Héctor Herrera recovers from a knee injury? You'd probably think we're pulling your leg.

Well, that's the Dynamo's reality – and it's a huge testament to head coach Ben Olsen finding solutions regardless of who's available.

Los Angeles Football Club

Look, Mateusz Bogusz probably isn't the long-term solution for LAFC's No. 9 spot (bonjour, Olivier). But the Polish youth international deserves a ton of credit for adapting to the position, already matching last year's goals total (3). He's one of those "bangers only" players, too:

LA Galaxy

I don't think this is even a "take": Riqui Puig is the best passer in MLS. He's both a high-volume guy – boasting a league-leading 657 passes and 859 touches – and capable of the spectacular (as shown below):

Inter Miami CF

It flew under the radar, but homegrown midfielder Benjamin Cremaschimade his season debut over the weekend – a 23-minute substitute appearance after recovering from sports hernia surgery. With Federico Redondo (knee) likely sidelined through mid-May, that's a huge development as Inter Miami shift their focus post-Concacaf Champions Cup. Last year, Cremaschi finished second on the 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR list.

Minnesota United FC

I recommend all Minnesota United fans listen to the below This is MLS debate in its entirety. The question at hand: Should Emanuel Reynosostay or go?

CF Montréal

The most underrated part of Montréal's new system under Laurent Courtois? Samuel Piette, who sports the captain's armband, quarterbacking everything from central midfield. He's constantly arranging the chess pieces out there.

Nashville SC

Nashville had Matchday 9 off. Hopefully USMNT defenders Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore emerge healthy from the extended break (or close to it).

New England Revolution

Tomás Chancalay must be sharper in front of goal. His 33 shot attempts are the third-most in MLS, but he's yet to score – despite often getting into promising spots. Related: New England have scored a league-low five goals this season.

New York City FC

The best goalkeeper in MLS nobody is really talking about? Matt Freese.

New York City FC's No. 1 has put in several man-of-the-match performances this year, including in last weekend's 2-0 win over the Revs. And, how he sees it, it's the byproduct of consistent opportunities.

"I think as I continue to get more comfortable, I’m able to be myself more out there and be confident," Freese said post-match. "Last year, I had eight games at the end of the season, that’s the first time I ever had more than two games in a row at the MLS level. It’s just a matter of continuing to build and feel more comfortable with each game."

New York Red Bulls

Andres Reyes is talented enough to be one of the best center backs in MLS. But he has to stay on the field! The Colombian international now has five career red cards in 80 regular-season matches.

Orlando City SC

Coming off a wild transfer saga, Duncan McGuire could have sulked – especially after the Lions brought in Luis Muriel this winter. Instead, he's doing stuff like this and staying as a frontrunner to be Team USA's starting striker at Paris 2024 this summer:

Philadelphia Union

I could cook up a take, but it wouldn't even remotely compare to this Quote of the Year candidate from Union head coach Jim Curtin. He's serving up fastball after fastball in postgame pressers, this time about a potential offside call in Philly's 2-2 draw at Atlanta:

Portland Timbers

The last part of Phil Neville's post-game quote about Evander is understandably gaining traction, but I think it's important to lay out the full statement. After some up-and-down form in 2023, Portland's club-record signing has really come into his own.

“The difference between good players and really good players is that the really good players make others around him look better, and Evander does that," Neville said. "You think about the games where we’ve been successful is when he’s grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and everyone else gets comfort from him. I think that’s the sign of a leader and that's why I gave him the captaincy last week.

"He does his actions by his body language, by his effort, by his control of the play. It gives everyone else real composure around him and like I said, I don’t see a better No. 10 in either conference at this moment in time than Evander. That’s how highly I rate him."

Real Salt Lake

After a 0-0 draw with Columbus, everything about this clip still rings true. Real Salt Lake will go as far as Chicho Arango takes them:

San Jose Earthquakes

Is it really this simple, as head coach Luchi Gonzalez suggests?

"I thought that they took their chances, and we didn’t, and that’s it," he said after a 3-0 defeat to Colorado. "Let’s not overthink it. We aren’t going to change everything. We’re going to take the next step and make some adjustments and hope that they work next."

Perhaps, but the biggest issue is San Jose's league-worst defense. No team has allowed more goals (20)… yikes.

Seattle Sounders FC

Was Seattle's recent 5-0 win over CF Montréal a mirage? That'd be harsh, but it's clear this team's final-third worries aren't solved overnight. Hopefully marquee offseason signing Pedro de la Vega is close to returning from his hamstring injury.

Sporting Kansas City

Sporting KC learned a lesson that plenty of others have in MLS. As Peter Vermes explained after their 3-2 loss, wherein Erik Thommy scored two world-class goals:

"I would say that there's one very specific thing that happened in this game, that it's different than all the other teams you play against in the league. We lost the ball three times and they just have the quality that, when you do, they can punish you."

St. Louis City SC

St. Louis likely still need to add a striker this summer (they never quite replaced Nicholas Gioacchini heading to Como in Italy's Serie B). But it's also fair to expect more production from Sam Adeniran and João Klauss, who now have two goals apiece on the year. And it's not for a lack of chances! They've combined for 38 shots thus far.

Toronto FC

I'll agree with Sacha Kljestan in saying some of Toronto's early-season magic has faded away. They've conceded 11 goals across three straight losses, after all. And it places a glaring spotlight on needing a defense-first approach (at least while Lorenzo Insigne is out injured), rather than an expansive style.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

The Whitecaps can easily be a Western Conference contender this year. Which makes it sting even more that they took just six of 12 available points from their four-game homestand.

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