Team of the Matchday

Team of the Matchday: Who were the MLS is Back standouts?

The stars stepped up as Major League Soccer's 2024 season began, creating tough choices for the year's first Team of the Matchday presented by Audi.


Antony (Portland Timbers), Christian Benteke (D.C. United) and Lionel Messi (Inter Miami CF) form the front free. Antony's first-half brace powered a 4-1 rout of the Colorado Rapids and Benteke's hat trick ensured a comfortable 3-1 win over the New England Revolution. Meanwhile, Messi produced start-of-season magic with 1g/1a across a 2-0 win vs. Real Salt Lake and a 1-1 draw at LA Galaxy – highlighted by a 92nd-minute equalizer in the latter match.

In wide midfield, Brian Gutiérrez (Chicago Fire FC) produced 1g/1a in a 2-2 draw at the Philadelphia Union and Robin Lod (Minnesota United FC) scored the opener in a 2-1 win at Austin FC upon his return from a long-term injury.

The center-mid spots belong to two Spaniards: Riqui Puig (LA Galaxy) and Asier Illarramendi (FC Dallas). Even though his penalty kick was saved, Puig pulled the strings all night for LA vs. Inter Miami. Illarramendi provided the bedrock of a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, netting his first MLS goal with a half-volley.

For the defense, left back Omar Campos (LAFC), center back Adilson Malanda (Charlotte FC) and right back Dagur Thorhallsson (Orlando City SC) all turned heads. Campos served up a debut assist in a 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC, Malanda scored the early winner in a 1-0 victory over New York City FC and Thorhallsson impressed in a 0-0 draw vs. CF Montréal.

Goalkeeper Drake Callender (Inter Miami) made 10 saves across two matches, including a stunning performance at LA. For the manager spot, Phil Neville enjoyed a dream debut in Portland.

Team of the Matchday (3-4-3, left to right): Drake Callender (MIA) - Omar Campos (LAFC), Adilson Malanda (CLT), Dagur Thorhallsson (ORL) - Brian Gutiérrez (CHI), Riqui Puig (LA), Asier Illarramendi (DAL), Robin Lod (MIN) - Antony (POR), Christian Benteke (DC), Lionel Messi (MIA)

Coach: Phil Neville (POR)

Bench: Sean Johnson (TOR), Dante Sealy (DAL), Deybi Flores (TOR), Aidan Morris (CLB), Eryk Williamson (POR), Carles Gil (NE), Emil Forsberg (RBNY), Mateusz Bogusz (LAFC), Cristian Arango (RSL)


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.