Top Things To Know About MLS This Week
Star-Studded Opening Weekend: MLS kicked off the 2021 season with major star power on and off the field. Inter Miami CF alone had Tom Brady, Kim Kardashian, Pharrell Williams, and Becky G sightings.
Download video here | Download photos here
Tender Young Keepers: Sporting Kansas City’s goalkeeper John Pulskamp became the youngest at his position to play and win an MLS match since 2010. Turning 20 today, he’ll post up opposite 20-year-old U.S. Men’s National Team and Real Salt Lake Homegrown goalkeeper David Ochoa this week.
Will Javier Hernández Have An Encore?
After already setting a very clear tone in the media about what fans can expect from him this 2021 season, LA Galaxy forward Javier Hernández lived all the way up to expectations in Week 1 with a two-goal showing against Inter Miami CF.
As coach Greg Vanney approaches Week 2 with a Galaxy game plan that may still be a work in progress, all eyes will be on Hernández for an encore performance. However, he will be going up against U.S. Men’s National Team defender Aaron Long and new-blood Red Bulls backline that has a serious chip on its shoulder heading into the match this Sunday (5:30 p.m. ET, FS1 / FOX Deportes).
* Caden Clark Continuing Where He Left Off*
Major League Soccer is already seeing rising young stars make an impact on the pitch in 2021 – eight teenagers in a starting lineup, six goalscorers under the age of 23 and an absolute golazo by 17-year-old striker Caden Clark from the New York Red Bulls. Watch here.
Clark scored three goals in 2020 after joining the New York Red Bulls in October, including goals in his first two matches as a professional, and to begin 2021 his goalscoring instinct was on display again. The Red Bulls hosted Sporting KC and Clark proved to be a menace from the opening whistle, though it was not until immediately following the halftime intermission that he snuck his way onto the scoresheet. Clark found a pocket of space and powered a one-time right-footed volley past Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper John Pulskamp. The match marked the MLS debut for the then 19-year old goalkeeper (he turned 20 on Monday), who ultimately led Sporting KC to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory. With the result, Pulskamp became the youngest goalkeeper to win a game since 2010. In addition to Pulskamp, Sporting KC featured a trio of homegrowns including Jaylin Lindsey (21), Gianluca Busio (18) and Daniel Salloi (24). Salloi notched the game-winner.
Both teams will feature on national television for Week 2 of MLS competition as Sporting KC take on Orlando City SC at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, April 23 and the New York Red Bulls visit LA Galaxy on Sunday, April 25 at 5:30 p.m. ET. Both matches will air on FS1 and Fox Deportes.
Peter Vermes on Brink of Yet Another Milestone
In the midst of his 13th season, Sporting Kansas City manager and sporting director Peter Vermes is the longest tenured manager in Major League Soccer. Thirteen seasons at the helm puts Vermes in elite company as the eighth longest tenured coach in the world, as of June 2020. On Friday, Vermes will accomplish another career milestone as his team takes on Orlando City SC on FS1 and FOX Deportes. The match, kicking off at 7:30 p.m. ET will mark the 600th combined MLS game (regular season and playoffs) for Vermes as a player (389) and a coach (211).
Fredy Montero Goal Puts Him Atop Clint Dempsey in Sounders Scoring Records
When the Seattle Sounders FC signed Fredy Montero in March, the club knew what they were getting. Sounders FC’s leading goalscorer for the club’s first three seasons (2009-2011) had already accumulated 47 goals and 34 assists in regular-season play for the team.
After productive seasons at Vancouver Whitecaps FC, rave green fans cheered his return and they were not disappointed. Fredy picked up where he left off for the Sounders, scoring in the season opener against Minnesota United as a second-half substitute.
With the goal, Fredy Montero eclipsed former Seattle striker Clint Dempsey’s goal total to become the team’s all-time leading goalscorer.
This weekend, Fredy and the Sounders will face a strong test against test as they line up against LAFC Saturday at Banc of California Stadium (3 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes). LAFC are fresh off a win against expansion side Austin FC and will be looking to see what Carlos Vela can produce against time-tested competition with Seattle.
MLS Teams With Unprecedented Success in Concacaf Champions League
For the first time in league history, MLS will have five teams in the quarterfinals of the Concacaf Champions League after all five won their round-of-16 series.
One MLS club will be guaranteed to reach the semifinals, with Atlanta United and the Philadelphia Union facing off in a quarterfinal series, the first leg set for Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The remaining three matchups will all be MLS vs. Liga MX affairs, with Toronto FC meeting Cruz Azul, Columbus Crew SC facing CF Monterrey, and the Portland Timbers taking on Club América, and in each case the MLS side will play host to the opening match.
The first legs will be played April 27-28, with the return matches set for May 4-5.
Game Notes: Week 2
Friday, April 23
Sporting Kansas City vs. Orlando City SC, 7:30 p.m. (FS1 / FOX Deportes; TSN)
- Sporting Kansas City opened their 2021 campaign with a quality away win, grabbing a 2-1 victory against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Saturday evening. Gadi Kinda and Daniel Salloí scored 63 seconds apart in the second half to give Sporting the win, the one minute apart for goals equaling the club record set five times previously.
- Orlando City SC began their season with a goalless draw with Atlanta United at Exploria Stadium. Pedro Gallese made three saves for the shutout; Orlando City are still undefeated all-time in season openers (1-0-6).
- The teams met once a season ago, Tesho Akindele and Benji Michel scored goals two minutes apart in the first half to lead Orlando City to a 2-1 win Sept. 23 at Children’s Mercy Park. It was Orlando City’s first win in three visits to KC.
- Orlando City are undefeated on their home ground vs. Sporting KC, with two wins and a draw in three meetings there, including a win by the game’s only goal in the last meeting there, Aug. 14, 2019.
Saturday, April 24
New York City FC vs. FC Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
- NYCFC kicked off the new campaign with a 2-1 defeat by D.C. United at Audi Field on Saturday evening. Valentin Castellanos scored the NYCFC goal, giving them an early lead after 15 minutes.
- FC Cincinnati started off their third season in MLS with a 2-2 draw vs. Nashville SC at Nissan Stadium. Luciano Acosta and Brenner (from a penalty kick) both opened their FCC accounts with goals in the opening 12 minutes of the match.
- NYCFC has won all four meetings in the series between the teams. The teams met twice a year ago. Alexander Ring and Anton Tinnerholm scored on either side of halftime as NYCFC took a 2-0 win Sept. 12 at Red Bull Arena, then Alejandru Mitrita scored two goals, including the opener after 30 seconds, as NYCFC took a 4-0 win Sept. 26 at Red Bull Arena.
- The teams met twice in FC Cincinnati’s inaugural season, and New York City FC won both by heavy margins. Héber scored two goals and added an assist and Maximiliano Moralez had a goal and three assists as NYCFC took a 5-2 win on June 6 at Yankee Stadium; Héber and Valentin Castellanos each netted a pair of goals as NYCFC claimed a 4-1 win Aug. 17 at Nippert Stadium.
Nashville SC vs. CF Montreal, 2 p.m. (TVA Sports)
- Nashville SC began their second MLS campaign by coming back for a 2-2 draw with FC Cincinnati at Nissan Stadium. Jhonder Cadiz pulled one goal back for Nashville FC after going two goals down in the opening 12 minutes, then Randall Leal hit for the equalizer midway through the second half.
- CF Montréal made an impressive to their season under new coach Wilfried Nancy, rolling to a 4-2 win against Toronto FC at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Mason Toye sent CFM on their way after just three minutes, and Romell Quioto, Victor Wanyama and Djordje Mihailovic also netted goals.
- The teams have met once in their histories. Randall Leal scored the game’s only goal after 33 minutes to lead Nashville SC to the victory last Oct. 27 at Red Bull Arena.
Toronto FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 3 p.m. (TSN / CTV)
- Toronto FC started off their MLS campaign with a 4-2 loss to CF Montréal at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Marky Delgado and Richie Laryea netted the goals for TFC.
- Whitecaps FC got their new season started off on the right foot, defeating the Portland Timbers by the game’s only goal at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Lucas Cavallini scored the lone goal from a corner kick just after the second half restart.
- The teams met three times a season ago, their most meetings in MLS play in one season. The teams met twice over four days’ time at BMO Field, and Toronto FC won both, each by shutout. Pablo Piatti netted a pair of goals in a 3-0 win Aug. 18, then Richie Laryea then scored the game’s only goal in the TFC win Aug. 21. On Sept. 5, Jake Nerwinski netted the game-winner with a quarter-hour left to give the ‘Caps a 3-2 win at BC Place.
- The three results last year were the first wins by the home team in the league series since 2013, when Whitecaps FC claimed a 1-0 win at BC Place. The away team had won four of the six matches in between, with two draws, including four in a row from 2015-18.
- The teams also met in the final of the Canadian Championship in 2018, with TFC winning the title 7-4 on aggregate, including a 5-2 win in the second leg at BMO Field. It was the second consecutive year the clubs met for the Canadian domestic title, the fourth time overall, and TFC have won all four. On three occasions (2011, 2012, 2018), the teams played to a first-leg draw in Vancouver; then, Toronto won the second leg at home.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas, 3:30 p.m. (Univision / TUDN)
- The Quakes opened their new season with a 2-1 defeat by Houston Dynamo FC at BBVA Stadium in the first match of the campaign. Paul Marie netted a late goal for the lone San Jose tally.
- FC Dallas started off the 2021 campaign with a scoreless draw with the Colorado Rapids at Toyota Stadium on Saturday evening. Jimmy Maurer, the league’s leading goalkeeper in goals against average in 2020, made six saves for the shutout.
- The teams did not meet in 2020. When they last met in 2019, they played to a pair of draws, a goalless result on April 27 at Toyota Stadium, and a 2-2 tie June 8 in San Jose.
- The Quakes now have a six-game undefeated streak alive in the series, since 2017, with three wins and three draws over that span. They have come away with points on their last four trips to Frisco, FCD’s last home win in the series coming in 2015.
- The Quakes have gained results in their last three home meetings in the series; their 4-3 win Aug. 29, 2018 was their first at home vs. FC Dallas since 2014, and their first ever vs. FCD at PayPal Park. FCD had come away with points on their previous five trips to northern California, with two wins and three draws.
Los Angeles Football Club vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 6 p.m. (ESPN / ESPN Deportes; TSN)
- LAFC won their season opener for the fourth time in the club’s four-year history, getting goals from Corey Baird and José Cifuentes for a 2-0 win against expansion side Austin FC at Banc of California Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
- Sounders FC posted the biggest victory of the opening weekend, rolling to a 4-0 win against Minnesota United FC at Lumen Field on Friday evening. Raúl Ruidíaz scored a pair of goals to lead the way, while Fredy Montero scored his first on his return to the club – making him the all-time leading goalscorer in the Sounders’ MLS history (48 goals with Seattle).
- The teams met three times during the regular season a year ago. In the last meeting, Danny Musovski scored a pair of goals and set up the third as LAFC took a 3-1 win Oct. 11 at Banc of California Stadium. Sounders FC won the first two meetings; first, Jordan Morris scored a pair of goals in a 3-1 win on Aug. 30 at CenturyLink Field, then Nicolás Lodeiro converted a pair of penalty kicks to give the Sounders the 3-0 win Sept. 18 in Seattle.
- The wins were the first for Sounders FC all-time in league play. LAFC won the first three, before the teams played to a 1-1 draw April 28, 2019.
- The teams also met for a second consecutive year in the MLS Cup Playoffs, Nicolás Lodeiro, Raúl Ruidíaz and Jordan Morris all scoring as Sounders FC took a 3-1 win in the Western Conference Round One. Sounders FC also took a 3-1 win at Banc of California Stadium in the Western Conference Final in 2019, behind a pair of goals from Ruidíaz.
- The teams also met in the round-of-16 in the MLS is Back Tournament, and Los Angeles Football Club gained a measure of redemption with a 4-1 win, as Diego Rossi netted a pair of goals and Brian Rodríguez added a goal and an assist.
Atlanta United vs. Chicago Fire FC, 8 p.m.
- Atlanta United began their 2021 MLS season with a goalless draw with Orlando City SC at Exploria Stadium. Brad Guzan made three saves for the shutout, the 62nd of his MLS career.
- Fire FC kicked off their new season with a 2-2 draw with New England Revolution at Soldier Field, the first time in club history they have opened the season in that venerable stadium. Robert Berić and Luka Stojanovic scored goals in the opening 11 minutes to give the Fire an early lead.
- The teams met once a season ago. Fabian Herbers and Robert Berić each netted first-half goals as Fire FC took a 2-0 win Sept. 27 at Soldier Field.
- Fire FC have won the last two meetings between the teams, both in home games, the previous victory a 5-1 win July 3, 2019 at SeatGeek Stadium, the most goals allowed by ATLUTD in a single game in their history. The Fire win ended a three-game Atlanta United winning streak in the series, including a 2-0 win June 1, 2019 in the last matchup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as Josef Martínez scored a pair of goals.
Minnesota United FC vs. Real Salt Lake, 8 p.m.
- MNUFC started off their new season with a 4-0 defeat by Seattle Sounders FC at Lumen Field on Friday night in a rematch of the 2020 Western Conference Final.
- Real Salt Lake will be the final team to open their 2021 season, after sitting out the opening weekend. RSL finished the preseason by lifting the trophy as champions of the Visit Tucson Sun Cup, defeating the Colorado Rapids 3-0 and Phoenix Rising FC 1-0, before falling 1-0 to the LA Galaxy.
- The teams met three times a season ago. Robin Lod netted a pair of goals as Minnesota United FC rolled to a 4-0 win Sept. 6 at Allianz Field; they also reached a goalless draw on July 17 during the MLS is Back Tournament, and on Sept. 27 in St. Paul.
- MNUFC has a seven-game undefeated streak alive in the series, after the teams also reached a 1-1 draw July 20, 2019 in the last meeting at Rio Tinto Stadium; the teams have reached draws in the last two meetings in Sandy. The lone RSL win in the series came there June 17, 2017.
- The away team has never won in the series. MNUFC had won the first three meetings in Minnesota before the scoreless draw last year.
New England Revolution vs. D.C. United, 8 p.m.
- The Revolution came back from two goals down to secure a point in their 2021 season opener, reaching a 2-2 draw with Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field on Saturday evening. Adam Buksa and Gustavo Bou netted goals 13 minutes apart after the Fire took a 2-0 lead after just 11 minutes, all four goals coming in the opening 27 minutes of the match.
- D.C. United came back to claim a victory in their 2021 season opener, defeating New York City FC at Audi Field. Brendan Hines-Ike and Russell Canouse scored five minutes late in the first half after NYCFC took an early lead, propelling United to the win.
- The teams met four times last season, and the Revs won the final three. Teal Bunbury scored two goals in the final quarter of the match, as the Revolution came back for a 4-3 on Nov. 1 at Gillette Stadium. Earlier, Gustavo Bou and Adam Buksa scored very late as the Revolution claimed a 2-0 win Sept. 27 at Audi Field; Bou and Bunbury also netted first-half goals as the Revolution took a 2-1 win at Audi Field on Aug. 25. The teams also met during the group stage of the MLS is Back Tournament, reaching a 1-1 draw July 17.
- The Revolution win in the first meeting last year was the first by the away team since 2013, a Revolution 2-1 win at RFK Stadium. D.C. United’s last win in league play in Foxborough came April 14, 2012, the Revolution with four wins in the nine meetings since, with five draws.
- The teams have also met four times in the MLS Cup Playoffs, with United winning three of the four series all-time, last a 2-1 win at RFK Stadium in the Knockout Round in 2015. They have met five times in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the Revolution winning three, last in 2017.
Philadelphia Union vs. Inter Miami CF, 8 p.m.
- The Union started off defense of their Supporters’ Shield triumph with a scoreless draw with MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew SC at Historic Crew Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Andre Blake made six saves for the shutout; he made eight shutouts in 2020 on his way to winning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors.
- The LA Galaxy dampened Phil Neville’s debut as Inter Miami head coach, storming back for a 3-2 win at DRV PNK Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Robbie Robinson (the No. 1 overall selection by Inter Miami in the 2020 SuperDraft) scored his first career goal, and Gonzalo Higuaín also converted a penalty kick for Inter Miami.
- The teams met twice in Inter Miami’s inaugural campaign, and the Union won both. Kai Wagner and Kacper Przybylko netted goals as the Union took a 2-1 win during group play at the MLS is Back Tournament on July 14; Anthony Fontana, Ilsinho and Brenden Aaronson all netted goals as the Union claimed a 3-0 win Sept. 27 at Subaru Park.
Colorado Rapids vs. Austin FC, 9 p.m.
- The Rapids started off their new season with a goalless draw with FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium on Saturday evening. William Yarbrough made four saves for the shutout.
- Austin FC began their history by falling to a 2-0 decision to Los Angeles Football Club at Banc of California Stadium on Saturday afternoon, both goals coming in the final half-hour of the match.
- The teams are meeting for the first time in their histories. They have two more meetings scheduled this season – July 31 at Q2 Stadium, and Sept. 29 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo FC, 10:30 p.m.
- The Timbers started off their 2021 MLS campaign with a defeat by the game’s only goal to Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
- Dynamo FC extended their undefeated streak in season openers to 10 straight, defeating the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 at BBVA Stadium in the first game of the season Friday evening. Memo Rodríguez and Maximiliano Urruti scored on either side of halftime to send the Dynamo on their way.
- The teams met once last season. Jeremy Ebobisse and Diego Valeri scored on either side of halftime as the Timbers won during group play at the MLS is Back Tournament on July 18.
- The last meeting at Providence Park came June 22, 2019, Diego Valeri scoring one goal and setting up the remaining three as the Timbers rolled to a 4-0 win. The teams also reached a 1-1 draw May 15 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
- Over the history of the league series, the away team has won just once – in 2011, in the first meeting between the teams in Portland. The Timbers have a seven-game undefeated streak at Providence Park alive in the series, winning the past four; the Dynamo have never lost to the Timbers at home.
Sunday, April 25
LA Galaxy vs. New York Red Bulls, 5:30 p.m. (FS1 / FOX Deportes; TSN)
- Javíer Hernández led the Galaxy to a come-from-behind victory in their 2021 season opener, defeating Inter Miami CF 2-1 at DRV PNK Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Hernández netted two goals, each time answered an Inter Miami goal, as he matched his goal total from 2020 in the opener. Sacha Kljestan then scored the game-winner in the 81st minute for the win.
- The Red Bulls started of their new season with a 2-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City at Red Bull Arena on Saturday evening. 17-year-old Caden Clark gave the Red Bulls the lead early in the second half with their first goal of the season.
- The teams did not meet in 2020. In the last meeting, the Red Bulls got goals from Marc Rzatkowski and Derrick Etienne Jr. early in the second half to claim a 3-2 win against the Galaxy on May 4, 2019 at Red Bull Arena. It was the second consecutive win in the series for the Red Bulls – both by 3-2 scoreline – after winning that last matchup in Carson on April 28, 2018
- The Red Bulls win in the last meeting ended a streak of two consecutive wins by the away team in the series, after the teams played to draws in each of the two meetings prior to that. The Galaxy have won once in their last five home meetings in the series, a 4-0 victory on Sept. 28, 2014; the Red Bulls win in the last meeting was their first in Harrison since 2013.