Welcome to the MLS Week 1 Wrap-Up here at Sports Talk Line! While we have had plenty of soccer to the fill the void with the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Champions League, so on and so forth; soccer in the United States is back! Week 1 brought quite a few goals, plenty of draws, and a couple of interesting upsets. If you had a busy weekend, you’ve come to the right place for a dose of every match.
For the content inside, I will reference the win/draw percentages of each match, as well as the average simulated season probabilities. All of these numbers are pulled from FiveThirtyEight and simply referenced to give everyone a frame of mind in upsets, chalk wins, and how the season is progressing. So, without further delay, please enjoy!
Montreal Impact (2) @ San Jose Earthquakes (1)
Last season both Montreal and San Jose were on the outside looking in when the playoffs started. Looking to start the year off right after a last-place finish in the Western Conference, the Earthquakes hit the scoreboard first win Magnus Eriksson slotted home the game’s first goal from just atop the 18-yard box. Unfortunately for the Earthquakes, that was the last of the scoring highlights.
In one of the better solo efforts of the weekend, Ignacio Piatti took a pass from a corner kick, made one man miss and teed up a beautiful strike from just outside the six-yard box. And, just before halftime, Zakaria Diallo wrapped a pass in behind the San Jose defense, setting up Saphir Taider who punched home the game’s winner.
Although projections game San Jose the 40% chance to win over Montreal’s 35% chance, the Impact steal the points on the road and start their season on the right foot. After missing the playoffs by just 4 points, this is a good start for the team.
Next week the Impact continue their road trip with a match in Houston, and the Earthquakes will host Minnesota. Both games are on Saturday.
Minnesota United (3) @ Vancouver Whitecaps (2)
In statistically the biggest upset of the weekend, the Whitecaps found themselves giving up points at home to a Minnesota team they beat 4-2 last season at home.
The scoring started in the right direction for Vancouver when Yordy Reyna setup Erik Godoy for an easy volley from a free-kick that caught Minnesota sleeping on defense. However, from that point on it was all Minnesota.
In the 37th minute, Francisco Calvo was taken down by an errant kick by a Minnesota defender and was an awarded a penalty. Darwin Quintero would take and make the penalty, but this was not Calvo’s only contribution to the scoreline. In the 66th minute rolls would be reversed when Calvo would put home a diving header on a chip from Quintero, putting Minnesota up 2-1.
Just four minutes later Romario Ibarra Mina would send Whitecaps keeper Maxime Crepeau the wrong way when his shot deflected off the Vancouver defense and into the back of the net. This would prove to be the game-winning goal as Doneil Henry would find himself wide open and head home a goal for Vancouver from a Victor Giro cross.
Minnesota overcomes 2:1 odds and gets the win on the road. FiveThirtyEight gave United just a 25% chance compared to Vancouver’s 53% chance.
Next up, Vancouver will be on the road at Real Salt Lake, and Minnesota will visit San Jose.
Toronto FC (3) @ Philadelphia Union (1)
Another upset in the opening week of the MLS, Toronto easily did away with Philadelphia. Philadelphia was given a 50% chance to win in comparison to Toronto’s 27%, but it was not to be for the Union.
USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley led the way with two goals. One in stoppage time of the 1st half and the second in the 62nd minute.
Both goals followed a cross across the penalty box that found Bradley wide open, easily slotting home both attempts.
A handball for Toronto in the 2nd half put Philadelphia back in the game with a penalty kick, but it would be the only time they would find the net. Nick DeLeon would finish off the Union in 90’+4’ with the goal that sealed the game.
The Union will travel to Sporting KC, and Toronto will host the New England Revolution in their next match.
FC Cincinnati (1) @ Seattle Sounders FC (4)
Welcome to Major League Soccer, FC Cincinnati. And what a welcome it was. Just thirteen minutes into the match a bouncing ball found its way to Leonardo Bertone who volleyed home Cincinnati’s first ever MLS goal. A beautiful strike from about 20 yards out.
However, that would be the club’s only scoring highlight of the night as the Sounders showed why they were a heavy 66% favorite to win the match.
In the 27th minute, a deflected save from the FC Cincinnati keeper gave Kelvin Leerdam the Sounders first goal of the season. Not six minutes later, back from a season lost to injury, Jordan Morris slotted home his first goal since August of 2017.
Just before the half, Morris continued his story with a striking goal into the top corner of the net on a cross across the box from Victor Rodriguez.
Not to be outdone, Raul Ruidiaz continued where he left off in 2018 with a finish of his own in the 87th minute.
The Sounders will continue their homestead with a match against Colorado, and Cincinnati will travel to the defending MLS Cup Champions, Atlanta.
It was a tale of two halves in Orlando on Saturday. The first half was all New York City FC, supporting the narrative of their 42% chance to win the game. However, it would be the 25% chance for a draw that came out on top in this one.
In the thirteenth minute, Ebenezer Ofori took a chance from well outside the penalty box and was able to notch NYCFC’s first goal of the season and the day. Just before the halftime whistle, an excellent through ball found the feet of Alexander Ring who put NY up two goals to none.
Then came the second half. A free kick taken by Christopher Mueller went untouched and found its way all the way into the back of the net to get Orlando on the scoreboard. Not twenty minutes later, Tesho Akindele finished off a perfect cross from Dom Dwyer.
Next weekend NYCFC will play host to DC United, and Orlando will hit the road and take on the Chicago Fire.
New York Red Bulls (1) @ Columbus Crew SC (1)
The Red Bulls came out firing on Saturday with a sixth-minute goal from Andreas Ivan putting the underdogs on the board early. Columbus, however, would not leave the half without a goal of their own. From the corner, Gaston Sauro was able to knock in the tying goal.
While the game would end in that 1-1 tie, it was not without some late chances from the 43% favorite Columbus. Two efforts in stoppage time left Crew fans wanting more. Red Bulls escaped both efforts and took a point on the road.
The Red Bulls next match will be in the CONCACAF Champions League versus Santos, and the Crew will travel to New England to take on the Revolution.
New England Revolution (1) @ FC Dallas (1)
An overwhelming favorite to win this match (56%), FC Dallas has continued its fall from the upper echelon in the Western Conference.
Dallas started off on the right foot with an excellent solo effort by Michael Barrios in the thirteenth minute. That, however, was the last we would hear of Barrios and Dallas. In the 57th minute, Carles Gil slotted home the tying goal, thus ending the affair.
The Revolution scooped up a point on the road and will carry that home to face the Columbus Crew. Dallas, on the other hand, will host Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy.
Portland Timbers (3) @ Colorado Rapids (3)
In one of the more exciting games of the weekend, the Portland Timbers traveled to the frigid Rocky Mountains to face the Rapids in what became the coldest game played in the MLS. So cold in fact, pictures of the head referee with frozen hair and eyebrows surfaced!
The Rapids got on the board first with a Kei Kamara finish on an easy cross across the six-yard box but would struggle going forward. This in part had to do with Axel Sjoberg receiving a red card in the 27th minute for what appeared to be an intentional handball in the box. Diego Valeri finished the penalty on the second attempt, knotting the game up at 1-1.
Just before the half, Sebastian Blanco would give the Timbers the lead, but only just so. In the 46th minute, the Rapids would find their first of two shorthanded goals and bring the game back level at two apiece.
Unfortunately for the Rapids, they would allow an own goal in the 66th minute when Deklan Wynne would attempt to stop a cross from the Timbers but find the back of his own net in the process.
It looked as if the Rapids would be down and out, but with inches of snow on the ground and seconds left in the game, Andre Shinyashiki pounced on a shot deflected off the keeper’s hands and give Colorado a point while spending the better part of the game with 10 men.
The Rapids hit the road in a match in Seattle and the Timbers will continue their road trip (with less snow) in Los Angeles against LAFC.
Real Salt Lake (1) @ Houston Dynamo (1)
Salt Lake and Houston played 57 minutes of deadlocked soccer on Saturday. With a chance created by Albert Rusnak in the 40th minute, Salt Lake took a lead into the half and looked to control it coming out on the other side.
Unfortunately for Salt Lake, Mauro Manotas had other plans when he hammered home a Dynamo goal in the 62nd minute.
The door for a match winner was opened when Matias Vera of the Dynamo was shown red in the 81st minute. However, Salt Lake was unable to capitalize on the man advantage and came away with the single point.
Houston’s next match will be in the CONCACAF Champions League against U.A.N.L, and Real Salt Lake will play host to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Chicago Fire (1) @ LA Galaxy (2)
Back for his second year in the MLS, Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked to get the Galaxy off on the right foot starting this year’s campaign. It would take most of the game, but Zlatan would come through on his wishes.
The first half played to a stalemate, but both teams came out eager to change that. In the 49th minute, C.J. Sapong would take advantage of a Galaxy defensive blunder and put the Fire up 1-0. This lead would last just less than 20 minutes when Daniel Stores would head in the first of the Galaxy’s two aerial goals.
With just ten minutes to go in regulation, Zlatan would head home the game-winner and give the Galaxy the 3 home points it was searching for.
Chicago will head home and host Orlando, while the Galaxy will travel to Dallas next weekend.
Atlanta United FC (0) @ DC United (2)
Defending MLS Cup Champions, Atlanta United have sputtered out of the gate, just as they have in two previous seasons. DC United played spoiler when they held Atlanta scoreless, the only team to not score a goal during opening weekend.
Just before the half, USMNT Winger Paul Arriola would tuck away the lead on a powerful finish from close distance.
Luciano Acosta would follow that up in the second half in the 58th minute with an absolute rocket who’s movement befuddled USMNT keeper Brad Guzan.