Welcome to the 2016 Major League Soccer season! Nerves, anticipation, ambition & goals galore helped make opening day a successful one. A record 36 goals were scored on opening day this year. It was also the highest single day total attendance in MLS history with 261,516.
Chicago Fire 3 – New York City FC 4
In the match up of new MLS coaches, Patrick Vieira’s first game in charge of New York City probably did not go to plan, but he was sure pleased with a road win over new Chicago Fire boss Veljko Paunovic.
Thomas McNamara scored the opening goal of the 2016 season in spectacular fashion. His effortless curling shot from outside the area pinged off the post and in. McNamara would earn NYCFC’s Man of the Match award after his opening goal and eventual game-winning assist.
The Fire leveled the scoring nine minutes from going down. Razvan Cocis man an onside run behind a offside run by Gilberto. The NYCFC backline did not play the ball assuming the whistle would come and Cocis finished his chance against Josh Saunders.
NYCFC made the score 3-1 before half time with goals from Tony Taylor and a streaking Khiry Shelton. Mix Diskerud’s assist to Shelton was his first in 13 MLS appearances. Diskerud also added smooth game-winning volley in the 63rd minute of play.
Fortunately for Paunovic’s side his team showed heart after digging themselves into a hole in the first half. Lackadaisical defending defined the first half for Chicago and may be a defining characteristic until new arrivals Joao Meira and Johan Kapplehof have more understanding on the backline.
Gilberto’s reputation for going down easily may have bit him in the 12th minute. The Brazilian forward was tugged down by Jason Hernandez after being played through to goal.
Frank Lampard did not make the trip for NYCFC. Vieira may be a problem of properly fitting the veteran Premier League player into the lineup when he returns from a calf strain.
Next week: Chicago visits Orlando & New York City hosts Toronto
Houston Dynamo 3 – New England Revolution 3
A late equalizer by Daigo Kobayashi helped the New England Revolution take a point away from their opening day trip to the Houston Dyanmo.
Both teams were ready to play on a cloudy and cool day in the heart of Texas. Houston had a half chance early in the opening seconds of the match, but it was Diego Fagundez who made Houston pay for a poor clearance in the 3rd. The 21-year-old player scored his 29th career MLS goal after lining a laser into the side net of the Dynamo.
After the goals the teams began to work each other. New England came out of the gates early and was a little anxious. Over the course of 90 minutes veteran DeMarcus Beasley won 6 fouls while causing problems all over his left side of the field. However, Beasley was lucky to escape a penalty called on him in the 45th minute when he pulled down Lee Nguyen in the area.
Cristian Maidana brought the game to 1-1 in first half added time. A lack of decisiveness and desire to clear a ball for New England let to a collision between Bobby Shuttleworth and Jose Goncalves. The goal opened and Maidana burried it in the twine.
Houston and New England traded goals coming out of halftime. Andrew Wenger scored his first for Houston when winning the ball and hustling through the defense to finish a Will Bruin layoff. Charlie Davies finished the second chance on a counter attack goal after Willis stopped the first. Davies is poised for a career year in MLS after showing signs of his former self in 2015.
Dynamo captain and on-field leader Giles Barnes finished a smooth operation by their offense. Bruin collected his second assist of the day when Boniek Garcia dummied a ball to the top of the area and left it for the oncoming Barnes. Garcia will not receive credit on the score sheet, but his movement created the scoring opportunity.
Houston thought they had the win, only to be outlasted by a late Kobayashi headed in the dying seconds of added time. What started as a corner, lead to five recycled opportunities from crosses. The Dynamo failed to completely clear the ball from their defensive third despite winning the first five duels. It was Kobayashi’s first goal since September 2013.
The point was a positive for the Revolution after going down twice, but a loss of two points by the Owen Coyle and the Dynamo at home.
Next week: Houston host Dallas & New England hosts DC
LA Galaxy 4 – DC United 1
Mike Magee returned to StubHub Center in a chariot of fire. The former Galaxian turned a surprise second half substitute appearance into a blazing 4-1 victory over DC United.
The former MLS MVP spent two years with his hometown Chicago Fire before coming back to Bruce Arena’s team. After designated player Giovani dos Santos limped off at halftime Arena favored his former to help get the job done. Robbie Keane did his best to play with teammates and combine at the top of DC’s goal area, but could find an opening.
DC United’s new forward Lamar Neagle scored in the first half after the redesigned defense of Los Angles broke down. Nick DeLeon was a bright spot on the midfield for United in the first half, bombing up and down the field causing problems – creating opportunities. DeLeon almost regained the lead for DC off of a similar through ball through the midfield that Neagle scored on.
After the break Daniel Steres scored the equalizing goal from a corner kick by Magee. Steres, the LA Galaxy II captain, signed for the first team this offseason after leading his side to the USL Championship game in 2015.
Magee almost single-handedly brought the team back to life. To give the Galaxy the lead, Sebastian Lletget found Magee on the left side of the goal area alone. His first touch was clean and set up his second touch to lob Andrew Dykstra from an acute angle.
In the 82nd minute Magee was brought down in the goal area by Dykstra and was awarded the penalty. Keane coolly converted as he does. The game was easily in the bag from then on, but Magee was not finished. Steven Gerrard’s wide set piece found the head of Magee as he was diving through the goal area to give the Galaxy four second half goals.
Bruce continues to be Bruce, but will the LA Galaxy be the LA Galaxy? Injuries are beginning to pick up early with Giovani, Dan Kennedy, Leonardo, Alan Gordan, Jeff Larentowicz and Jelle Van Damme. As if team chemistry wasn’t already an issue.
DC will most likely pick up plenty of points this season, but this is a preview of what life would have looked like the past few years without Perry Kitchen and Bill Hamid.
Next week: LA visit Colorado & DC visits New England
Other Week 1 scores:
New York Red Bulls 0 – Toronto FC 2
Orlando City SC 2 – Real Salt Lake 2
FC Dallas 2 – Philadelphia Union 0
San Jose Earthquakes 1 – Colorado Rapids
Portland Timbers 2 – Columbus Crew SC 1
Vancouver Whitecaps 2- Montreal Impact 3
Seattle Sounders 0 – Sporting Kansas City 1