The MLS returned for its 23rd season this past weekend, and along with some severe weather, there were a ton of new faces that showed up around the league. There was also a new team in the league as FC Cincinnati played the first game of their expansion season. The MLS is constantly getting better, with the talented incoming players really bolstering the league, and this year will prove to be the best yet.
The MLS season opened in Chester, PA as the Union hosted 2017 champs Toronto FC. Michael Bradley opening the scoring in the 3rd minute of extra time, in the first half, and Toronto took a 1-0 lead into the half. Bradley added another one in the 62nd minute and Nick DeLeon finished the game off with a 94th minute goal. New Union signee Marco Fabian scored his first MLS goal with a 73rd minute penalty. Toronto opens the season with a 3-1 road win.
Sunday Night Showcase
Opening weekend rapped up with two juicy games with the first being DC United hosting the defending champions Atlanta United. In a game that had sleet and rain throughout it was DC United that game away victorious with a 2-0 win. Paul Arriola started the scored in the 45 +1 minute when he snuck behind the back line off a corner. Luciano Acosta sealed the victory with a rocket from the outside the box that should have been saved by Brad Guzan.
The weekend concluded with a fun matchup, which had a thrilling ending, when Sporting Kansas City hit the road to face LAFC. It was a very physical game as SKC totaled five yellow cards in the first half alone, but they still managed to take a 1-0 lead into the half after a breakdown in the LAFC defense allowed Krisztian Nemeth to net a goal in the 16th minute. LAFC got one back quickly in the second half as Diego Rossi curled a beautiful ball into the bottom corner just two minutes into the half. The second half continued to be physical, as SKC’s Roger Espinoza received a red card in the 84th minute, and that ended up costing them in the end. Just before the final whistle, LAFC’s, Adama Diomande corralled the ball in the box and fired the ball in the top of the net to secure three points for LAFC. A very thrilling conclusion to a great weekend of soccer. LAFC and SKC might be the two best teams in the MLS and I would not be surprised to them battle it out for a spot in MLS Cup later this year.
All the Ties
There were plenty of ties in the ten game Saturday schedule as we saw five games end tied up. Orlando City SC came back from a 2-0 deficit, over New York City FC, to secure a point in the home opener. The Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls each got a goal in the first half to earn a point in the season opener. In a game dominated by FC Dallas the New England Revolution were able to snag a point on the road thanks to a 57th minute goal from Carles Gil. Houston overcame a 1-0 deficit at the half to earn a point in their home opener. The Dynamo held over RSL for 15 minutes a man down after Matias Vera received his second yellow card and was sent off in the 81st minute.
In what may have been the game of the opening day the Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbers played to a 3-3 draw. This game was played in a blizzard, goals were a plenty. Playing a man down from the 27th minute on, the Rapids, were able to stick with the Timbers and grab a point thanks to a 94th minute equalizer by Andre Shinyashiki.
Who else but Zlatan Ibrahimović to score a late winner for the LA Galaxy on opening night. Zlatan headed in a ball the initially hit the crossbar and the Galaxy came away with a 2-1 win. C.J. Sapong got the scoring started for the Chicago Fire, but a goal by Daniel Steres tied it for LA in the 68th minute and Zlatan assured the Galaxy picked up the full three points.
FC Cincinnati played their first game in the MLS and actually took a 1-0 lead early on in Seattle, but the Sounders were way too much all night and ended up with an easy 4-1 win. Jordan Morris netted two goals in his first game back from a long injury layoff. In a very entertaining game Minnesota United traveled to Vancouver and came away with an excellent 3-2 road win. The Whitecaps went up early, but three straight goals by Minnesota was enough for them to see this result through. San Jose went up early, but Montreal scored two goals prior to the end of the first half and that was all she wrote in San Jose. The Quakes dominated most of the game and were unlucky not to at least get a point out of this one.
The MLS season is back and there seems like there is more excitement than ever. Atlanta United is still the favorite to lift the MLS Cup once again, but there will be plenty of challengers throughout the season.