A rout from arguably the league’s top squad and a historic result for the league’s newest club – MLS is Back weekend provided plenty of worthwhile candidates for 2023's first Team of the Matchday presented by Audi.
The Philadelphia Union roared to a 4-1 win over the Columbus Crew, powered by 2g/2a from reigning Best XI presented by Continental Tire midfielder Dániel Gazdag. Argentine striker Julián Carranza had a brace as well, showing the Eastern Conference juggernaut hasn’t missed a beat after narrowly missing out on MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield in 2022.
Matchday 1 tossed St. Louis CITY SC a formidable task, and the expansion side responded with a thrilling 3-2 comeback win at 2022 Western Conference finalist Austin FC. Bradley Carnell gets top coaching honors for the club’s first-ever win, while DP midfielder Eduard Löwen’s two assists earn him a starting spot. DP striker João Klauss’ late game-winner places him on the bench.
Fresh off helping Argentina win the FIFA 2022 World Cup, Atlanta United midfielder Thiago Almada brought the house down before nearly 70,000 fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The league’s most-expensive incoming transfer scored two golazos in second-half stoppage time, powering a 2-1 win over the visiting San Jose Earthquakes.
Flanking Carranza, homegrown attackers Jordan Morris and Ted Ku-DiPietro were both stellar for their respective teams. Morris had a brace in Seattle Sounders FC’s 4-0 rout of the Colorado Rapids, while Ku-DiPietro had 1g/1a off the bench in a thrilling 3-2 comeback victory over Toronto FC – including a stoppage-time winner.
All three defenders are goalscoring center backs who ably put out fires as well: Sergii Kryvtsov (Inter Miami CF), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC) and Henry Kessler (New England Revolution). Kryvtsov’s opener started a 2-0 win over CF Montréal, Zimmerman scored the first goal of the 2023 campaign in a comfortable 2-0 victory over New York City FC, and Kessler’s striker-like finish earned a late 1-0 win at Charlotte FC.
Goalkeeper provided the hardest decision, but the nod goes to Miami’s Drake Callender. His six-save shutout was full of timely plays (reinforced by several underlying stats) and spoiled Hernan Losada's managerial debut for Montréal.
Team of the Matchday (3-4-3, left to right): Drake Callender (MIA) - Sergii Kryvtsov (MIA), Walker Zimmerman (NSH), Henry Kessler (NE) - Dániel Gazdag (PHI), Obinna Nwobodo (CIN), Eduard Löwen (STL), Thiago Almada (ATL) - Jordan Morris (SEA), Julián Carranza (PHI), Ted Ku-DiPietro (DC)
Coach: Bradley Carnell (STL)
Bench: Pedro Gallese (ORL), Nouhou (SEA), Juan Mosquera (POR), Noel Buck (NE), Kervin Arriaga (MIN), Damir Kreilach (RSL), Cristian Roldan (SEA), Jacob Shaffelburg (NSH), João Klauss (STL)
Audi Goals Drive Progress
MLS Academies have been identified as one of the most important resources for building on-field talent in North America. Through the Audi Goals Drive Progress initiative, Audi has committed $1 million per season in an effort to advance academies league-wide, and to drive progress for the sport. For every goal scored in the regular season, Audi will contribute $200 into the Audi Goals Drive Progress fund to directly support each MLS Club Youth Academy.