There are two weeks left in the MLS season. For some teams, it's a race to the Supporters' Shield. Others are jockeying for playoff seeding or just a playoff place, while some are already looking to next season. What's the one thing to know about every MLS team?
Chicago Fire - Still waiting for them to spend
There are some things to like about the Fire this season, like the growth of their academy and the emphasis they have put on developing young talent, but that won't cover up being dead last in MLS ... again. They were the worst team in the league last year, too, and it's no surprise considering how weak their roster is. A lot of that can be chalked up to their unwillingness to spend. They're one of the cheapest teams in MLS and only have one Designated Player. It shows on the field.
Greg BartramGreg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Colorado Rapids - In the Supporters' Shield hunt
Prior to this season, the Rapids would have been thrown into the same basket as the Fire -- unwilling to spend and one of the worst teams in the league. But Pablo Mastroeni, who was rumored to be on the hot seat before the season, has orchestrated one of the most amazing turnarounds in MLS history. The Rapids are in the race for the Supporters' Shield thanks to the league's best defense and you can't chalk it up to the additions of Tim Howard and Jermaine Jones either. They were racking up wins before Howard joined in July and have been great since Jones went down injured this summer too.
Ron ChenoyRon Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Columbus Crew - Where are the goals?
How do you go from MLS Cup finalist to out of the playoffs in a year? Failing to score. The Crew's 45 goals trail every team in the East's top six and that's crippling to a team that leaned on its dynamic attack a year ago. Trading Kei Kamara after some in-house tension really hurt the Crew and they've never quite figured out how to find the back of the net, which is why they've already been eliminated from playoff contention.
USA TODAY SportsJoseph Maiorana
D.C. United - The kings of doing more with less
D.C. United play in a stadium that's falling apart, they don't have the state of the art training facility other teams do and they have one of the smallest budgets in MLS. Despite that, Ben Olsen manages to turn them into a competitive team every year. They finished top of the East in 2014, fourth a year ago and look playoff-bound again. Imagine if they actually had some resources?
USA Today SportsGeoff Burke
FC Dallas - Chasing the treble
No MLS team has ever won the treble before, but FC Dallas have a shot at it. They already won the U.S. Open Cup, are right in the mix for the Supporters' Shield and are favorites to take home MLS Cup. Oscar Pareja has built a monster down in Dallas, using a core of homegrown players and supplementing them with stars like Mauro Diaz. They have one trophy to show for it already, and could very well have three before the end of the year, as well as the title of Best MLS Team Ever.
Tim HeitmanTim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Dynamo - They're a mess
For years, the Dynamo were an MLS power. They won a couple MLS Cups, went to two more finals and were a lock to be a good team every year. But that was under Dominic Kinnear, who defined the club more than anyone else. He left two years ago and the club has been a wreck ever since. They missed the playoffs a year ago and are the worst team in the West this season. The Dynamo jettisoned manager Owen Coyle in May and Designated Player Erick "Cubo" Torres barely saw the field before going on loan to Liga MX, where he was injured in his first game. All the while, the team is devoid of direction and it's not clear who would ever set that direction. It's bad.
Erich SchlegelErich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
LA Galaxy - The quest to make Steven Gerrard work
The Galaxy's signing of Gerrard hasn't gone as planned. He's shown he can't be depended on to do the least bit of defensive work in the midfield and trying to fit him into a purely attacking role without any defensive responsibility has been a chore. But they're stuck with Gerrard, at least for the rest of this season, and have to figure out how to make the midfield function with him in there. The Galaxy score goals by the bunches, but can be susceptible at the back, in part because they don't protect their defenders very well. They'll have to figure out where Gerrard fits and how to ensure the midfield can still do enough defensive work if they want to make a run at MLS Cup.
Jennifer BuchananJennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Montreal Impact - What to do with Didier Drogba?
Drogba has been a very productive player in MLS and he has 10 goals to go along with six assists this season. You would think that Montreal would be set with him. But the Impact have actually proven to be a better team with Drogba out. It's hard to imagine the Impact sitting Drogba, but they have to figure out either how to use him in a way that helps the team more or be ready to yank him off if things go poorly in the postseason.
USA Today SportsEric Bolte
New England Revolution - Somehow still in the playoff race
The Revolution are a pretty bad team. Their 40 goals are second worst in the East and their 52 allowed would be the second most among playoff teams ... if they were in a playoff spot. They're the last team out, but that they're even in the race is pretty extraordinary. The Revs really should be dead and buried.
Winslow TownsonWinslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
New York City FC - Just out-score teams
No team in MLS has scored more goals than NYCFC's 57, while their 53 goals conceded is the second-most in the league. They win games by out-scoring teams. They've nearly given up on trying to be defensively sound and are ready to just unleash David Villa on whoever gets in their way.
"You're going to score three? That's fine, we'll get four."
USA TODAY SportsGreg Bartram
New York Red Bulls - Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan
Like their New York rivals, the Red Bulls are an offensive powerhouse. Their 56 goals is good for second-best in MLS, in large part thanks to two men: Wright-Phillips and Kljestan. Wright-Phillips leads the league with 21 goals, while Kljestan is tops in assists with 17. Give those two an inch of space and they will make you pay. And with the way the Red Bulls press, they're going to find space.
USA TODAY SportsAdam Hunger
Orlando City - Jason Kreis couldn't save them
The Lions have had a tumultous first two seasons in MLS. They're going to miss the playoffs again, a fact that hurts even more when they see NYCFC, who entered the league with them a year ago and are competing for the top spot in the East. They brought Kreis in mid-season, but he wasn't nearly enough to get them going. Their team was beyond being saved and now Kreis will spend the offseason trying to see if he can put together a functioning team.
Kim KlementKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia Union - Might end their playoff drought
The Union looked like a team on the rise when they made the playoffs in 2011, only their second year in the league. But that was the last time they made the postseason and they're currently tied for the longest playoff drought in MLS. They might finally break that, though. The Union are holding onto the last playoff spot in the East and control their own destiny. Now they just need to finish the job.
Bill StreicherBill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Portland Timbers - The worst away team in the league
Portland won MLS Cup a year ago, but they're on the outside looking in as they try to get into the playoffs this time around. The change in fortune is all because of one reason -- they're awful away from home. The Timbers haven't won a single road game all season and have managed just six points.
Troy TaorminaTroy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Real Salt Lake - Get to know Joao Plata
Real Salt Lake look set to return to the playoffs and it's easy to look at stalwarts like Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando as the reason why. They've been there forever and have been good again this season, but take a gander at Joao Plata. The 5-foot-2 forward has nine goals and 11 assists, emerging as RSL's most dangerous attacker.
Russell IsabellaRuss Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
San Jose Earthquakes - Dominic Kinnear is coming back
The Earthquakes are probably going to miss the playoffs again, but they're not going to bail on Kinnear. The club already said that he'd be back next season, which will almost certainly be a make-or-break year for him in San Jose. Club president Dave Kaval has said that they need to do a better job supporting Kinnear and giving him the resources to succeed, so we'll see how that goes as they look toward next season. Hiring a GM to replace the fired John Doyle will be just the start in San Jose.
Eric BolteEric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Seattle Sounders - A return from the dead
The Sounders were left for dead at the end of July. They were in the depths of the West and coming off of four matches without a win. But they've lost just one of 11 matches since and now not only hold a playoff spot -- they're fighting for home-field in the play-in round. The Sounders are the hottest team in MLS and nobody wants to meet them in the postseason now.
Sporting KC - What happened to Matt Besler and Graham Zusi?
Matt Besler and Graham Zusi were key parts of the United States' 2014 World Cup team. They had interest from European clubs. They were budding stars and Sporting Kansas City managed to keep them with new contracts. The duo committed their future to the club, one that was defending MLS Cup champs, and it looked like the future of the club was set with Besler and Zusi. But two years later, Besler has been dropped from the starting lineup and Zusi keeps having to fight injuries. Sporting have gone out in the play-in round the last two years and are battling just to make the postseason now. It's all come apart for Sporting and it's hard to imagine them turning it around unless Besler and Zusi become two of the league's best players again. Or you know, even get back on the field as sure-fire starters.
Gary RohmanGary Rohman-USA TODAY Sports
Toronto FC - Sebastian Giovinco needs to get fit
Toronto FC were the league's saddest club. But they finally made the playoffs a year ago thanks to Giovinco, who was the best player in the league. He was just as good this season, helping TFC take the top spot in the East, but then he went down hurt and now the Reds find themselves third in the conference. They're going to make the playoffs and are still a solid team with Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, but they need Giovinco to get back and be dominant again if they want to make a real run at MLS Cup.
Kevin SousaKevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports
Vancouver Whitecaps - Oh no, that defense
The Whitecaps were second in the West last season and featured a slew of good, young players. They added a couple more pieces in the winter and were supposed to compete for MLS Cup this year, but instead they're out of the playoffs. How did they manage that? By giving up 51 goals, already more than the 36 they conceded a year ago and that's with two matches still to play this season.