Best moments from MLS opening day: St Louis City SC starts with a bang

Louis City set off fireworks on their MLS debut.  (Photo by AP/Eric Gay)
Louis City set off fireworks on their MLS debut. (Photo by AP/Eric Gay)

Opening day of Major League Soccer has passed, but it has not been without amazing storylines. After all, it wouldn’t be MLS if there weren’t dramatic endings, surprise victories and massive losses. Let’s take a look at some of the best moments from the first round of the 2023 season.

Paying tribute to the Titan

One of the most influential and respected sports journalists in the world, Grant Wahl helped bring football out of the shadows and into the mainstream of North American fans. His death on December 10 while covering the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar was a heavy blow to journalists, players and fans. He has been a passionate and relentless advocate for a number of causes, most notably the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in the world of sports. In memory of him, a photo of Val was placed in each press box, along with a reserved seat.

New kids in the area

No one knew what to expect from St. Louis City’s first season, but the first game in franchise history against one of the top teams in the Western Conference is rarely lauded. However, two goals in less than 10 minutes led the debutants to a historic first victory over Austin. After one game, St. Louis is currently number one in the West, so I don’t think anyone would mind if we just stopped scoring right now.

“It doesn’t count if you don’t go bardown, bum”

With MLS’s penchant for stellar sophomore seasons, the hype and anticipation surrounding Thiago Almada seemed impossible to live up to. Someone forgot to tell the Argentine, who instead shattered those expectations and saved Atlanta United from defeat on the first day.

Losing 1-0 two minutes into stoppage time, Almada took a short corner on the edge of San José’s penalty area and fired an absolute rocket that somehow didn’t smash the bottom of the crossbar in its path. However, the icing on the cake came six minutes later with the final blow of the game. Standing over a free kick from about 25 yards, Almada sent a perfect ball around the wall and past the keeper to secure three points in front of an enthusiastic Mercedes-Benz stadium.

All hail the man in black

By far the coolest jersey in MLS this year, Nashville’s blacked-out Johnny Cash-inspired jersey will strike fear into the heart of almost any team. That was the case when Captain Walker Zimmerman scored the opening goal of the 2023 season and the entire team paid tribute the day before what was to be Cash’s 91st birthday by celebrating him with an air guitar.

Drama in the area

With Mark-Anthony Kaye giving Toronto a 2-1 lead in the 83rd minute, it looked like the first three points were in the bag to end a successful offseason. However, Wayne Rooney’s people had other plans. Like Atlanta’s incredible twist of fate, DC United scored twice in stoppage time thanks to Christian Benteke and Theodore Koo-Dipietro.

Return of the King

After missing almost all of last season with a back injury, Real Salt Lake captain Damir Kreilach ended his team’s second-half attack by scoring the game-winning away goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Real Madrid now hold the MLS record for the longest unbeaten streak in the early days since 2010. Even more impressive is the fact that 13 of them came from a game away from home.

A little snow never hurt anyone, right?

El Trafico, the derby between Los Angeles FC and Los Angeles Galaxy, was postponed yesterday due to the first blizzard warning in Southern California since 1989, or as Canadians like to call it: Tuesdays.


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