The final matches of the opening week of the 2021 MLS season included a high-profile clash in South Florida, a battle of Eastern Conference powers, and a night-time tussle between Cascadia rivals.
The LA Galaxy rallied from deficits on two different occasions, emerging as 3-2 winners on the road against Inter Miami. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez was the man of the hour, scoring two goals to lead the charge in Greg Vanney’s first match as Galaxy head coach.
Reigning MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew and reigning Supporters’ Shield-winning Philadelphia Union played to a goal-less draw at Mapfre Stadium, with goalkeepers Eloy Room and Andre Blake finishing as the stars of the match.
The Vancouver Whitecaps opened the season with a 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers. Lucas Cavallini scored the winner to send the Timbers to defeat and leave Major League Soccer’s five Concacaf Champions League participants winless in week one after they combined for an undefeated record on the way to all five teams reaching the CCL quarterfinals.
Here is a look at Sunday’s MLS action:
Inter Miami 2, LA Galaxy 3 (Final)
(Robbie Robinson 45+2′, Gonzalo Higuain 68′) – (Javier Hernandez 62′, 73′; Sacha Kljestan 81′)
Man of the Match: Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez. The Mexican striker showed off his goal-scoring prowess, bagging a brace with a couple of close-range finishes to spark the Galaxy comeback.
Moment of the Match: Just when it looked like Inter Miami had claimed the lead and momentum again off an Higuain penalty kick, Hernandez came up with the rebounded finish from close to give the Galaxy another equalizer that spurred them on to victory.
Leandro Gonzalez Pirez: Was issued a yellow card in the first minute of the game, lost Chicharito on the first equalizer, and was in no-man’s land on the Galaxy’s second tying goal.
Crew 0, Union 0 (Final)
Man of the Match: Andre Blake. Blake made six saves for the Union and helped Jim Curtin’s side keep a third straight clean sheet in all competitions to start the season. His best came late in the second half when he repelled Artur’s volley from close range.
Moment of the Match: Just when it looked like the Union would steal all three points, Eloy Room came up clutch to deny Sergio Santos. The substitute hit a low drive from the left side of the box which forced Room into a diving kick save.
Match to Forget: Anthony Fontana. Fontana was coming off a good performance midweek against Deportivo Saprissa, but found it tough to get involved at all. He was replaced by Santos in the second half, who had a much better outing in limited time.
Whitecaps 1, Timbers 0 (Final)
(Lucas Cavallini 49′)
Man of the Match– Lucas Cavallini delivered the winning goal in a tight match and grabs the honors.
Moment of the Match– Maxime Crepeau denied Felipe Mora’s 89th minute chance to equalize.
Match to Forget– Felipe Mora struggled to really test the Whitecaps on a night when he was needed to deliver.