Ref walkout - Inaugural MLS match
Courtesy of Tony Quinn/D.C. United

MLS pundits remember their first MLS game

Ahead of the anniversary of the first-ever MLS game on April  6, MLSsoccer.com had a panel of our experts, analysts and pundits to reach into the memory bank about the first MLS game they ever attended. You can find the answers below. Also be sure to tune in to MLSsoccer.com at 4 pm ET on April 6 to watch the MLS Classics: Remix airing of that famous first game between the San Jose Clash and D.C. United. 

Matt Doyle

I went with some college buddies to New England against Kansas City in, I want to say, the early summer of 1996 at old Foxboro Stadium. We sat in the concrete bleachers and drank every time Preki chopped some poor Revs defender. It got messy, especially when he scored.

Andrew Wiebe

The 2006 World Cup hooked me on soccer, but I didn't make it to my first MLS game until a year later in June 2007. My dad, brother and I went to Arrowhead Stadium for KC Wizards-Red Bulls. Juan Pablo Angel scored from a sumptuous John Wolyniec flicked header. Clint Mathis chucked an elbow into Kerry Zavagnin's windpipe and get ejected. Eddie Johnson scored a hat-trick, becoming the first MLS player to do that in back-to-back games. Even Dema Kovalenko got a goal. Watch the highlights here.

Ben Baer

I went to the 2000 and 2002 MLS Cups but I can't tell you too much about those matches unfortunately. The first MLS game I really remember is the famous Beckham in New Jersey game that we just re-aired on MLS Classics. That was probably the craziest and most exciting soccer game I've ever been to.

Calen Carr

My first game was the first-ever MLS match. My mom would drop my friend Diego and I outside of Spartan Stadium pretty often that first year to volunteer at the “Soccer Celebration” where we’d help set up and guide people through stations like the “power shot” or the dribbling one. Once we’d help break down the gear, we got free tickets to go in and watch the match.

Susannah Collins

I attended my first MLS game in the summer of 1998 when the Chicago Fire hosted the LA Galaxy at Soldier Field. My friend’s dad took us and I remember it was ungodly hot. The name escapes me but a player on the Galaxy scored an own goal in the game and I felt terrible for him the entire match. But my most vivid memory from that whole experience was Cobi Jones’s hair. I was obsessed.

Charlie Davies

It was in 1996 just before my 10th birthday, New England Revolution vs. LA Galaxy.  It had four goals and a penalty shootout - of course I wanted my hometown team to win but I was just happy to see goals!  I waited after the match to get my ball autographed and thought on the car ride home I was the luckiest kid in the world.

Jason Saghini

Early in the 2nd season, when I finally had my driver’s license, my best friend and I went to Giants Stadium to see the MetroStars take on the Crew. I believe it was a come-from-behind win but mostly I remember that my favorite player at the time, Miles Joseph, assisted on one of the goals.

Nick Rosano

I’m not sure which Quakes game we packed into Spartan Stadium for back in the early 2000s, but I sure remember how it made me feel. Even as soccer from across the world was starting to appear at my fingertips thanks to faster and faster Internet speeds and Fox Soccer Channel, I quickly realized that the energy of live soccer was something different, and that local soccer — especially with guys like Landon and DeRo on the rise — was absolutely worth supporting.

Jason Le Miere

It was the fall of 2005 and I was a wide-eyed student from London marveling at the California sun while spending a semester abroad at San Jose State University. As a firm believer in following the local team, wherever in the world that may be, it was not long before the chance to catch the San Jose Earthquakes in action became a must-do. So together with a group of fellow soccer-hungry study-abroad students from Europe, we headed off to Spartan Stadium. The first thing that struck me, and my abiding memory of that game to this day, was the atmosphere in the crowd. For someone who grew up with the simmering territorial battlegrounds of English stadiums, the inclusive, family atmosphere was a noticeable, and welcome, change. As were the unique ingredients brought by the large Latinx population in attendance, something that continues to set MLS apart to this day.

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