MLS is (finally) back and Week One was nothing short of everything we missed as fans. We saw a barrage of stunning strikes, late extra-time come from behind equalizers and some surprise performances from unlikely heroes. Below we break down some of the key talking points around the league after the conclusion of the first round of games.
Josef Martinez out for the season with a torn ACL
69 minutes into Atlanta United’s opening season match against new expansion side Nashville SC, we saw Josef Martinez go down in what seemed like a non-contact injury. Everyone who knows the league, knows that Josef is the toughest player on the field just about every game, so when he went off on a stretcher; something didn’t feel right. It was later revealed on the following day that Martinez would miss the entire 2020 season with a torn ACL.
The support Martinez received was overwhelming as formers players like Justin Meram, fans and coaches all offered their sympathy from all around MLS. As one of the most prolific goal scorers the league has ever seen before, Josef Martinez’ injury is most likely the most severe one in MLS history.
Expansion teams make history
Nashville SC and Inter Miami both played their debut match during the weekend, however the league did them no favors with the opponents and either side failed to get a result. Nashville SC drew a record crowd for a soccer game in the state of Tennessee with a reported 59,069 fans packed in to watch the club and Walker Zimmerman make history.
Inter Miami traveled to one of the most difficult venues to play at in MLS and although they failed to score a goal, pushed LAFC to the very brink with a narrow 1-0 defeat.
Big offseason signings make their mark
The prior winter transfer window saw a handful of clubs break their club record transfer fee and bring in international playmakers from all over the globe. San Jose’s CB Oswaldo Alanis scored a free kick that could be up for goal of the year, which sent Avaya Stadium into an absolute frenzy as the 90th minute equalizer rescued a point for the Quakes. Later that night record setting transfer fee striker Alan Pulido opened his and SKC’s scoring account as he put the Sporting ahead in just the 17th minute against the Whitecaps. Columbus’ new no. 10 playmaker Lucas Zelarayan scored the match’s only goal against NYCFC and helped his team en route to an opening day 1-0 victory. Although the Chicago Fire ultimately conceded a pair of second half goals to the Sounders, new striker Robert Beric opened the scoring when he slotted home his inaugural MLS goal in the 46th minute. Claiming that his goal was to “score 25 goals” Minnesota’s loan striker Luis Amarilla opened his account as the Paraguayan striker helped his team on to an opening day 3-1 victory over the Portland Timbers.
An unlikely hero in New York
After the New York Red Bulls parted ways with fullbacks Michael Murillo and Kemar Lawrence in the offseason, there were question marks on if there was a valid replacement on either side. In just his 15th ever MLS match, 22 year old RB Kyle Duncan opened the scoring for the Red Bulls in just the 16th minute. Duncan was heavily involved throughout as he recorded a primary assist and secondary assist, helping his team to a final 3-2 opening day victory over FC Cincinnati.
Come from behind results around the league
MLS match day one saw some incredible finishes as 5/13 matches ended with teams having to come from behind in order to earn a result. We start in DC as DC United had a 1-0 lead until Jonathan Lewis scored a late 90th minute winner to knock off the home team on opening day.
Just one match later, the Montreal Impact needed Romell Quito and Maxi Urrutti goals to come from behind after an early goal from Teal Bunbury and the Revolution. In Houston, the Dynamo’s main goal scorer Mauro Manotas’ 54th minute equalizer rescued a result for the home side after a 1-1 game with the Galaxy that could have swung either way. As prior mentioned, Oswaldo Alanis’ worldie free kick turned Avaya Stadium into a mad house.
Finally, Jordan Morris came off the bench to rescue a match where the Sounders were down at home to score a brace in just the 45 minutes he was on the field.