A huge part of the fun during the opening round of any new MLS season is getting a proper first look at all the league's newcomers, and seeing which ones make the best instant impact for their clubs.
This year, Week 1 provided a platform for several debutants to introduce themselves admirably. As it so happens, some of those fast standouts were far less heralded upon arrival than other glitzy newcomers.
The scoresheet says the LA Galaxy netminder conceded twice, but there was nothing to be done about either Inter Miami CF tally. One was a 2-on-1 break, while the other was a Gonzalo Higuain penalty kick. Most importantly, Bond made six saves, with many coming at crucial times. He shut down Higuain and Robbie Robinson to keep his side in it early and added another important stop to protect LA's eventual lead late.
The headline FC Cincinnati Designated Player catch didn’t enjoy as comprehensive a debut showing as some others on this list (mostly because his team ceded the ball for the last hour or so of their draw with Nashville SC). However, he did provide the plays this club has been crying out for since joining MLS. Brenner won a penalty kick with his consistently annoying pressure, and then promptly deposited it to temporarily double the Orange and Blue’s lead.
To call the new D.C. United defender's debut a dream start would be putting it mildly. Stepping straight into the starting XI, Hines-Ike helped limit good NYCFC chances with a dozen total defensive stops. The day briefly turned sour when Valentin Castellanos beat him at the back post for the opener. He would atone in a big way, though, lighting the fuse on a breakthrough rally starting cracker that would fit in with most any round's Goal of the Week contenders.
Plenty of observers spent a large portion of last season asserting that Sporting Kansas City’s main missing piece was a proactive, mobile shutdown man in the heart of defense. If Isimat-Mirin's first game is any indication, they may be able to worry about another flaw now. The Frenchman was everywhere in their road win over the New York Red Bulls, with nine clearances among his 13 defensive interventions.
The veteran center back came precisely as advertised in his FC Dallas bow, bringing a cool presence alongside Matt Hedges. Martinez put in an "as needed" showing at the back, doing a little bit of everything to help keep Colorado quiet. He also moved the ball around efficiently and showed on day one that he will be a communicative teammate on the field. All told, he’s brought a great pedigree from Granada CF.
Here we have the first official cheat pick of the 2021 season. Backed by a steely performance from Alex Ring, Austin FC's two league newcomers in midfield wasted little time showing their impressive wares. Pochettino was the expansion side's guiding light and was robbed of an early charging header. Top SuperDraft pick Pereira moved the ball well and chipped in with nine defensive stops. Long story short: Josh Wolff's central park trio more than held their own against LAFC's top-shelf midfield crew for 90 minutes.
Some may argue that we've saved the best for last. Atlanta United was a club that lost its structure last season, but have seemingly now found it again by capturing the 21-year-old Argentine. Sosa was a firm defensive presence in front of the backline and a clever distributor to spark the transition game. If you ask me, he was the Man of the Match in the Five Stripes’ gritty 0-0 draw at Orlando City SC.