The first full day of action in the 2021 Major League Soccer season had plenty of goals, a handful of surprises and much more on Saturday, with the league’s newest team making its debut, and two new coaches enjoying victories in their first matches in charge in MLS.
Los Angeles FC welcomed Austin FC to MLS with a 2-0 victory at Banc of California Stadium. The expansion side from Texas kept things interest with a goal-less first half, but LAFC overcame the loss of Carlos Vela to score two unanswered goals to open its season with a win.
It was a rough opening day for the league’s New York teams, as the New York Red Bulls suffered a 2-1 home loss against a Sporting Kansas City side that rested several starters but still managed to rally from a 1-0 deficit for the win. New York City FC traveled to Audi Field and suffered a 2-1 defeat, with Russell Canouse delivering the winner for D.C. United in Hernan Losada’s debut as DCU head coach.
CF Montreal handed new head coach Wilfried Nancy a victories debut in 4-2 victory against a shorthanded Toronto FC side in a Canadian derby played in Florida due to COVID-19 restrictions. TFC was shorthanded and coming off a taxing midweek Concacaf Champions League victory, leaving Chris Armas’ side vulnerable against a Montreal side that showed off a high-flying attack.
Atlanta United and Orlando City played the latest edition of their own Southern Derby, but neither could find a goal in a 0-0 draw in Orlando. Gabriel Heinze was denied a victory for the first time as Atlanta head coach, but remains undefeated through three matches in all competition.
The 2021 MLS season officially kicked off on Friday night, with the Seattle Sounders rolling over Minnesota United in a 4-0 romp in Seattle. The Houston Dynamo recorded the first win of the year, beating the San Jose Earthquakes at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Here is a look at all of Saturday’s action, including the goal-scorers, top performers, biggest moments and players who will want to forget what happened:
Fire 2, Revolution 2 (Final)
(Robert Beric 5′, Luka Stojanovic 11′) – (Adam Buksa 14′, Gustavo Bou 27′)
Man of the Match: Robert Beric. Beric is off to a flying start this campaign, finding a goal and assist in the first 11 minutes of the game.
Moment of the Match: Beric opened the games scoring on the end of a beautifully worked play, showing off Chicago’s teamwork in the final third. Match to Forget: Jonathan Bornstein. The left back was exposed by Tajon Buchanan leading up to the Revolution’s equalizer, allowing the 22 year-old to find the run of Gustavo Bou.
Nashville SC 2, FC Cincinnati 2 – (Final)
(Jhonder Cadiz 20′, Randall Leal 64′) – (Luciano Acosta 8′, Brenner 12′)
Man of the Match: Randall Leal. The Nashville winger led the comeback from 2-0, setting up Jhonder Cadiz with an excellent low cross, then delivering a beauty of an equalizer.
Moment of the Match: Leal’s floating shot was struck perfectly to beat a red-hot Przemyslaw Tyton for the equalizer.
Match to Forget: His teammates rallied to help earn a draw, but Willis was to blame for both of FC Cincinnati’s goals, letting Luciano Acosta get by him on the match’s first goal before he was whistled for a penalty foul that Brenner converted for Cincy’s second goal.
D.C. United 2, NYCFC 1 (Final)
(Valentin Castellanos 15′) – (Brendan Hines-Ike 39′, Russell Canouse 44′)
Man of the Match: Russell Canouse. Canouse not only scored the winning goal on a good finish, but was dominant defensively and covered plenty of ground as D.C. United preserved the win.
Moment of the Match: Valentin Castellanos came close to tying things up in the 84th minute, but Chris Seitz got low and denied the forward his second goal of the game.
Match to Forget: Maxi Moralez. Normally Moralez is doing plenty of work in the final third, but the Argentine playmaker was held in check by D.C. United’s midfield and center backs.
FC Dallas 0, Rapids 0 (Final)
Man of the Match: Jimmy Maurer. The FC Dallas goalkeeper made six saves, including several outstanding stops to deny the Rapids on a day when he also completed 21 of his 22 passes.
Moment of the Match: Maurer had several excellent saves, but his diving stop to deny Michael Barrios in the 26th was arguably the best of the bunch.
Match to Forget: Michael Barrios returned to Frisco, Texas to face his long-time team and it was clear he was up for the reunion. Unfortunately for Barrios, he saw all of his game-high five shots thwarted, either by Maurer or bad aim.
Red Bulls 1, Sporting KC 2 (Final)
(Caden Clark 48′) – (Gadi Kinda 59′, Daniel Salloi 60′)
Man of the Match: Daniel Salloi. Starting in place of Mexican star Alan Pulido, Salloi made the most of the opportunity, scoring the winning goal
Moment of the Match: It came in an eventual loss, but Caden Clark’s stunning volley was a thing of beauty, and a reminder of what the young standout can do.
Match to Forget: Andrew Gutman. The left back was active defensively, but he was directly at fault for both Sporting KC goals. His handball penalty set up the first KC goal, then it was Gutman who allowed the cross to come from his side of the field on the eventual winner (though in fairness, Kyle Duncan got caught napping on the back-post.)
Orlando City 0, Atlanta United 0 (Final)
Man of the Match: Miles Robinson. Robinson helped the Five Stripes keep a third consecutive clean sheet in all competitions and did well to not really allow Orlando City into good areas. The U.S. Men’s National Team center back continued his good start to the season.
Moment of the Match: Alexandre Pato came close to opening his scoring account with Orlando City, but was denied in the 71st minute by Brad Guzan. Guzan did well to deny the Brazilian before diving on the rebound as it went backwards.
Match to Forget: Lisandro Lopez started for Atlanta United in attack, but was ineffective in his 75-minute shift before Josef Martinez entered the pitch. Lopez failed to record a shot on goal and looked out-of-sync with the rest of his attacking teammates.
LAFC 2, Austin FC 0 – Final
(Corey Baird 61′, Jose Cifuentes 91′)
Man of the Match: Corey Baird. The debut of the new-look front three for LAFC will have to wait due to Diego Rossi missing the match against Austin FC with a minor hamstring injury, but Baird stepped up in a big way for the Black and Gold. Baird broke the scoreline open in the 61st minute, scoring his first career goal for LAFC on a right-footed shot from outside the box that deflected into the bottom left-corner of the net.
Moment of the Match: With Austin FC pressuring for an equalizer, Jose Cifuentes iced the opening day win in stoppage time for LAFC. His right-footed shot slid past Brad Stuver to hand the Western Conference favorites their first victory of 2021.
Match to Forget: Danny Hoesen. Tasked with leading the lines for Austin FC, Hoesen was largely ineffective during his 59 minutes on the field. The Dutch forward had a header that missed wide in the first half, but he and the rest of the Austin FC attack were only able to force three shots on target in the match.
CF Montreal 4, Toronto FC 2 (Final)
(Mason Toye 3′, Romell Quioto 24′, Victor Wanyama 54′, Djordje Mihailovic 71′) – (Marky Delgado 45′, Laryea 88′)
Man of the Match: Djordje Mihailovic. He was active in the attack and did well to pick out teammates in dangerous areas of the pitch. He finished off a commanding midfield performance with a goal in the 71st minute that came with some wonderful footwork and a well placed shot.
Moment of the Match: Mason Toye’s curler into the top corner in just the third minute really set the tone for this game and displayed how slow Toronto FC’s defense was all afternoon.
Match to Forget: Luke Singh. Singh was a pylon in defense all night and got roasted on three of the Montreal goals.
Dynamo 2, Earthquakes 1 (Final)
(Memo Rodriguez 39′, Maxi Urruti 56′)-(Paul Marie 74′)
Man of the Match: Memo Rodriguez. The Dynamo midfielder scored the opening goal and created consistent threats to keep the Earthquakes on their heels.
Moment of the Match: It wound up coming in a loss but Paul Marie’s curling right-footed finish from 25 yards out with a thing of beauty.
Match to Forget: Chris Wondolowski is the MLS all-time leading scorer, but his normally-reliable scoring touch failed him in the 84th minute when he wound up in on an open goal and somehow missed from three yards away.
Sounders, 4, Minnesota United 0 (Final)
(João Paulo 49′, Raul Ruidiaz 70′, 73′, Fredy Montero 86′)
Man of the Match: Raul Ruidiaz. The Peruvian striker finished off a pair of chances to help the Sounders pull away in a rout of the visiting Loons, rebounding well after having a first-half penalty saved.
Moment of the Match: Joao Paulo’s long-range volley early in the second half helped set the tone for a rout.
Match to Forget: Brent Kallman. The veteran defender was beaten soundly on the build-up for Seattle’s second and third goal, and was subbed out just six minutes later.