First opening day: A history of expansion teams' MLS debut matches

Kaka, David Villa - Orlando City SC, New York City FC - Close up 2015

With Wednesday's release of every team's 2017 home openers, we now know when expansion newcomers Atlanta United FC and Minnesota United FC will make their debuts: MNUFC get the year underway at Portland on Friday, March 3, while Atlanta kick off by hosting the New York Red Bulls at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sunday, March 3.

How have expansion teams of the past fared on day 1? Here's an historical rundown.


Miami Fusion FC: 2-0 loss to D.C. United at Lockhart Stadium, March 15, 1998

The Fusion kicked off the 1998 MLS season at their newly-remodeled home in Ft. Lauderdale, in front of a sellout crowd of 20,450 and a national-television audience on ABC. But the defending MLS Cup champs from D.C. crashed the party, as Tony Sanneh scored one goal and assisted on another. Miami would acquire star playmaker Carlos "El Pibe" Valderrama and eventually sneak into the playoffs in their inaugural campaign.

Chicago Fire: 2-0 win over Miami Fusion at Lockhart Stadium, March 21, 1998

A week later, the Men in Red laid down a marker for what would turn out to be a championship season, beating their expansion siblings in Florida. Roman Kosecki netted the first goal in Fire history before Ritchie Kotschau scored to clinch the win. (Check out highlights here). The Fire went on to win their home opener at Soldier Field, defeating the Tampa Bay Mutiny before an impressive crowd of 36,444.


Chivas USA: 2-0 loss to D.C. United at Home Depot Center (now StubHub Center), April 2, 2005

Nearly four years after the shuttering of Miami and Tampa Bay, the league finally grew again with the arrival of Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake. The Goats kicked off the season with a visit from defending champions D.C. United, who beat the newcomers under the Southern California sun via goals from Josh Gros and Christian Gomez on either side of halftime.

Real Salt Lake: 0-0 draw at MetroStars at Giants Stadium, April 2, 2005

The Utah club began MLS life in a driving rainstorm in northern New Jersey's Meadowlands, scrapping to a scoreless draw with the team now known as the New York Red Bulls. Between high winds and sopping-wet artificial turf, “the elements created more a folly than a match,” in the words of the New York Times' match report. Opening day was a preview of painfully difficult seasons for both expansion sides.


Houston Dynamo: 5-2 win over Colorado at Robertson Stadium, April 2, 2006

The Orange weren't an expansion team, but the relocated San Jose Earthquakes – yet since the Quakes' brand and historical records stayed in the Bay Area, Houston's first MLS game counts here. Coach Dominic Kinnear brought a highly competitive roster to the Bayou City, one that would go on to win two straight MLS Cups under their new identity. They delighted a packed crowd in their opener, as Brian Ching reeled off four goals and Alejandro Moreno capped the night with a bicycle-kick strike that won MLS Goal of the Week honors.


Toronto FC: 2-0 loss to Chivas USA at StubHub Center, April 7, 2007

Most Reds fans' favorite memory of that tough inaugural season was TFC's first win, a 3-1 win over Chicago on May 12 where the BMO Field faithful celebrated Danny Dichio scoring the club's first-ever MLS goal by throwing a blizzard of seat cushions (the free gift for that game) onto the pitch. But the campaign actually kicked off in SoCal, where they lost to a Goats side that would go on to finish first in the Western Conference that year.


San Jose Earthquakes: 2-0 loss to LA Galaxy at StubHub Center, April 3, 2007

The Quakes were welcomed back to MLS in their second iteration, but didn't enjoy much success, finishing in a tie for last place in the overall league standings. David Beckham and their California Clasico rivals from LA beat them on opening day en route to winning two of their three meetings that year.


Seattle Sounders: 3-0 win over New York Red Bulls at Qwest Field (now CenturyLink Field), March 19, 2009

The Rave Green set a new standard when they moved up from USL, and they laid down a marker on opening day by smashing the previous year's MLS Cup finalists in front of a loud, proud home crowd. Fredy Montero bagged a brace and assisted on a Brad Evans strike, and the Sounders would eventually cruise into the playoffs, one of the few expansion sides ever to do so.


Philadelphia Union: 2-0 loss to Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field, March 25, 2010

The Union kicked off life in MLS by falling to the previous year's expansion darlings. Unfortunately for the visitors, there were more bookings than goals on day 1, as Danny Califf earned a yellow card just 33 seconds after the opening whistle and rookie Toni Stahl was ejected when he received his second caution in the 37th minute.


Portland Timbers: 3-1 loss to Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, March 19, 2011

The Timbers and their delirious, National Anthem-singing fans would later turn heads around the world when they baptized their newly-refurbished Jeld-Wen Field (now Providence Park) home with a rainy 4-2 win over Chicago on April 11. But their MLS debut was a tough loss in frosty Commerce City, Colorado nearly a month before.

Vancouver Whitecaps: 4-2 win over Toronto FC at Empire Field, March 19, 2011

Vancouver began their MLS expansion season at this temporary stadium while BC Place's renovation was being completed, and it was a welcoming home on opening day. An Eric Hassli brace and strikes from Terry Dunfield and Atiba Harris paced the 'Caps to a wild win over their cross-Canadian counterparts in front of a raucous crowd.


Montreal Impact: 2-0 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place on March 10, 2012

Another team with rich history that made the jump from the lower divisions into MLS, the Impact fell to their fellow Canadians on day 1. Sebastien Le Toux and Camilo scored for the 'Caps, while Montreal had to wait until April 7 for their first win, over Toronto FC at Stade Olympique.


Orlando City SC 1-1 New York City FC at the Citrus Bowl (now Camping World Stadium), March 8, 2015

The league's latest expansion teams got the party started together, and did so in front of a capacity crowd of some 62,000 purple-clad Lions fans at their temporary home, which is set to be replaced by Orlando's new downtown stadium in 2017. Goals from Kaká and Mix Diskerud saw the points split in this one.