It’s official. I’ve finally found something to fill the void left by the NFL on Sundays. MLS Soccer Sunday, and the other games that preceded it on Saturday entertained me this past weekend in a way I haven’t experienced since the NFL season. Yes, there is the XFL, but with just 4 games a week and low-quality play, I failed to find enjoyment. Maybe I needed a break from football, but regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed the opening week of MLS action.
Week 1 truly had it all. There were surprising upsets, come-from-behind victories, and jaw-dropping golazos. Nearly 60,000 people filled Nissan Stadium in Nashville for the debut of Nashville SC. On the other side of the country, several notable celebrities including Eva Longoria and Gordon Ramsey, attended Inter Miami’s inaugural game at LA FC. The impact of the MLS is clear, but there are bigger headlines than the attendance of the games. Here are the 5 biggest ones from the first week of MLS Season 25.
Atlanta United Win at Expense of Josef Martinez
The Five Stripes opened their season on the road Saturday in Nashville with a 2-1 victory, but the big story was the loss of 2018 MVP Josef Martinez. In the middle of the second half on, Martinez went down in anguish with an apparent knee injury a few minutes after a collision. An MRI Sunday revealed Martinez had torn his ACL. His season is likely over, and Atlanta’s hopes for a second title in three years have been diminished.
Vela’s Cheeky Chip Lifts LAFC to Victory
Despite a strong debut by Robbie Robinson and Inter Miami, LAFC prevailed in a contest between two of the MLS’s newest franchises. LAFC dominated the game of possession, but both teams got their chances. The lone goal came just before halftime, when reigning MVP and 2019 top goal scorer Carlos Vela chipped Luis Robles from just outside the box. The result gives optimism for Inter Miami, and LAFC looks like the best team in the league.
Henry Makes BIG Impact in Managerial Debut
Expectations were low heading into the season for the Montreal Impact and first-year manager Thierry Henry. The Frenchman played in the MLS for the New York Red Bulls from 2010-2014, and on Saturday he led the Impact to a 2-1 victory against his former rival, the New England Revolution.
The Impact were down 1-0 early, but equalized before the first half was over. In the 80th minute, Maximiliano Urriti chipped the Revolution’s keeper to take the lead. Henry got his first win, and the Impact gained some early hope to make the playoffs. If they can do so, it would be their first appearance since 2016.
Jordan Morris Plays Super-Sub, Leads Sounders to Victory
The defending champion Seattle Sounders opened their season Sunday at home against the Chicago Fire. The Sounders dominated the first half, but both teams were held scoreless. The Fire scored within the first minute of the second half, but the Sounders weren’t finished off. Jordan Morris, who entered the game at halftime, equalized in the 62nd minute.
The Sounders kept attacking, and the Fire defense gave in during the 3rd minute of stoppage time (93rd minute), when Morris got his second goal of the day. Morris was named MLS Player of the Week for his efforts, and the Sounders remain atop the Western Conference.
Earthquakes Equalize With Golazo in Stoppage Time
It looked like hope to win the home opener was lost for the San Jose Earthquakes after they went down 2-0 to 2019 MLS Cup runner-up Toronto FC in the early second half. The Earthquakes got one back to pull within one, but time was fading away.
In the third minute of stoppage time, the Earthquakes drew a foul outside of the box on the left side. It appeared as if there was no angle for a shot, but Oswaldo Alanis bent the ball into the goal, sending Earthquake Stadium into a frenzy.