One game tonight
Seattle host Colorado at 8 pm ET. You can watch, of course, on Apple TV and on FS1.
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My goodness, when MLS reintroduces itself, it writes its name on a frying pan and smacks you over the head with it. Just an absurd night full of the most beautiful madness this league has to offer. And now all in 1080p with sound mixing that lets you hear exactly how loud MLS stadiums get. I almost worry the start of the year might have been too good. How do we go up from here?
We’ll find out, I guess. For now, take a look at your Saturday recap.
What happened?: It looked like a typical, grind-it-out Nashville win at first. Despite Hany Mukhtar starting the game on the bench thanks to a hamstring issue limiting his fitness, the Coyotes stayed in control, limited NYCFC’s chances and found a pinball goal off a set piece from Walker Zimmerman. It got a little less grind-it-out when Mukhtar eventually stepped on the field and took off on a lengthy run through the heart of the NYCFC defense and slid the ball to Jacob Shaffelburg for the finish.
So, did we learn anything?: Nothing about the way Nashville handled this should be surprising. The script hasn’t changed. We did get our first look at a remodeled NYCFC though. Initial impressions weren’t all that encouraging. The attack seemed disjointed (and longing for Santiago Rodriguez to arrive soon) and, despite nine shots, didn’t generate a single chance higher than a league-average xG. It’s hard to know whether that’s just how things will be this year for the Pigeons or if they just played against Nashville.
What happened?: The Quakes looked just as solid as anyone who’s been paying attention to their offseason expected and controlled the game from the jump. That led to an early goal from Jeremy Ebobisse and a feeling Atlanta United were about to be stuck chasing the game for a long, long time. San Jose eventually sat in and Atlanta leaned on the wall as much as they could before letting Thiago Almada just take a sledgehammer to the thing. A 90’+3’ stunner from outside the box and off the underside of the crossbar got followed by a ridiculous free kick winner six minutes later.
So, did we learn anything?: I was at this one and very impressed by the Quakes. I feel really comfortable in continuing to think they have a legitimate shot at a decent Audi MLS Cup Playoffs spot this year and a shot at their best season in years. Unfortunately for them, Almada did one of the single-most special things you’ll ever see on an MLS field. Atlanta, missing a handful of starters, were able to brute force their way to three points with a top-end talent advantage. It was far from perfect, but they’ll take it.
What happened?: Both teams traded a ton of chances, but FC Cincinnati caught the breaks in the end in an evenly matched game. Sergio Santos and Obi Nwobodo made the difference.
So, did we learn anything?: Houston looked more than up for it against one of the league’s preseason favorites, but the Knifey Lions have so much quality that it’s always going to be hard to get the better of them in a game decided on the margins. Still, that’s an encouraging start to the Ben Olsen era in Houston.
What happened?: A whole lot of folks showed up and Henry Kessler sent a whole lot of folks home mad with an 89th-minute goal via a quick-hitting and well-timed transition moment for the Revs.
So, did we learn anything?: We learned Charlotte can still draw a crowd. 69k showed up for this one, outpacing Atlanta’s 67k. The South just loves ball more than the rest of y’all, I guess. Anyway, at first glance, not sure we learned much more from the most evenly-matched game statistically of the night. Both teams put up the same number of shots and xG and the variance tilted toward New England. Although, I will say if you weren’t keeping an eye on the Revs 17-year-old midfielder Noel Buck, you probably want to start doing that. He got the start and a lot of praise.
What happened?: Lol I don’t think anyone knows?? Three goals from the 82nd minute on sent this one all the way off the rails. Ted Ku-Dipietro is the hero via what was somehow the second-latest winner of the night. Mateusz Klich scored a stunner in his D.C. debut. Toronto’s Lorenzo Insigne left the game with an injury. D.C. outpaced their xG by more than two goals. The answer to “What happened?” is just a shrug emoji and “I dunno, a lot man.”
So, did we learn anything?: No. Toronto got sniped here. The only info available is “It’s hard to win on the road in MLS” and “MLS is hilarious” and we knew all that already. Full credit to D.C. though, they’re at least interesting and at least talented on the top end of their roster.
What happened?: Inter Miami’s newest center back, Sergii Kryvtsov, introduced himself with a goal off a corner and recently announced homegrown Shanyder Borgelin introduced himself with a goal off a rebound and that was that.
So, did we learn anything?: Both teams had a ton of chances, but Inter Miami were just a little better in the end, even if the goals came from some unlikely places. Both teams should be concerned with their first defensive performance of the year. Both teams should be pretty pleased they were able to get into good positions with consistency. Both teams still have a lot of question marks.
What happened?: A Facundo Torres penalty made the difference despite the Red Bulls generally seeming in control of this one.
So, did we learn anything?: Did we mention it’s really hard to win on the road in MLS? The Red Bulls outplayed the Lions, but one critical moment turned the game on its head. Same for any team that goes up against the Red Bulls, it’s hard to get a read on Orlando after last night. But despite maybe a mixed bag of a performance that produced just 0.22 xG from open play, they aren’t going to complain about three points in game one.
What happened?: The Crew came out and, unsurprisingly, looked sharp under Wilfried Nancy. Then the Union got hit in the mouth, woke up and just started pummeling them. I mean, just a straight-up molly whopping.
So, did we learn anything?: Not a thing unless “The Union are the favorites to win the East” is a new statement for you.
What happened?: Tim Parker scored the first goal in St. Louis CITY SC history, but Austin and Sebastian Driussi responded with a gorgeous chipped goal before the end of the half. Jon Gallagher gave the Verde and Black the lead in the second half but an “OH GOD, OH NO” backpass from Austin’s Kipp Keller gifted Jared Stroud the equalizer. Then, João Klauss subsequently gifted St. Louis their first-ever win with the outside of his foot. It’s the upset of the weekend in MLS and an impressive introduction for the league’s newest team.
So, did we learn anything?: St. Louis came to play, y’all. Yeah, the Stroud goal was a lucky break, but they were punch-for-punch with Austin throughout the game. This wasn’t a fluke. And the hype for an already extremely hyped home opener this week against Charlotte is only going to grow. Austin looked a lot like Austin, but with a possible new wrinkle in midfield after DP Alexander Ring began the game on the bench.
What happened?: Mender Garcia found the net at the start of the second half and that was that.
So, did we learn anything?: Well, one game in and the Loons haven’t missed Bebelo Reynoso yet. To go on the road and pull out a win in the first match has to be a major confidence boost.
What happened?: The Caps took the lead on an early set piece goal, but RSL struck back with two big blows in the second half as Justen Glad and Damir Kreilach found the net and three points.
So, did we learn anything?: Seems about on par with what we know about RSL. They still have that dawg in them etc. etc. But it’s awesome to see Kreilach back from a long-term injury and getting on the scoresheet in game one. If he’s going to put up the kind of numbers we’re used to from him pre-injury, RSL are going to be right where they always are at the end of the year, fighting for a playoff spot and fully prepared to ruin someone’s post-season.
Portland Timbers sign defender Miller in free agency: The Portland Timbers have signed free-agent defender Eric Miller through the 2023 MLS season with an option for 2024. The 30-year-old MLS veteran joins the Timbers after three years with Nashville SC, where he was used mostly as a rotational piece. In 2022, he logged 1,341 minutes across 24 matches (14 starts), the most he's played since 2017.
- MLS Commissioner Don Garber released a letter to MLS fans before the 2023 season.
- Walker Zimmerman scored the first goal of the 2023 MLS season.
- Minnesota United "stick it up to people" by winning without Emanuel Reynoso.
- Damir Kreilach is back! Real Salt Lake's captain showed his "lethal" quality.
- St. Louis CITY introduced themselves to MLS with an "unbelievable" debut win at Austin.
- It was João Klauss who gave the newcomers their historic win. And it was Tim Parker who scored St. Louis CITY SC's first goal in MLS.
- Mateusz Klich and Christian Benteke powered a thriller for Wayne Rooney's D.C. United. Klich scored a stunner.
- The Philadelphia Union made a statement win on day one.
- Thiago Almada saved Atlanta United with a pair of stoppage-time goals.
- Lorenzo Insigne left Toronto’s home opener with an injury.
- MLS clubs paid tribute to Grant Wahl across the league on matchday one.
- Ludacris hammered in the Golden Spike in Atlanta United’s season opener.
Good luck out there. Introduce yourself with confidence.