St Louis City SC begins with a bang

St Louis City FC had fireworks at their MLS debut. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Although Major League Soccer’s opening day has passed, it was not without its share of incredible stories. After all, it wouldn’t be MLS if there weren’t dramatic finishes, come-from-behind wins, and massive upsets. Let’s take you through some of the greatest moments of Matchday 1 of 2023.

Honoring a Titan

Grant Wahl was a respected and influential sports journalist who helped to bring soccer into the spotlight and in North America. His passing on Dec. 10 Reporters, players and fans suffered a lot while covering the 2022 World Cup. He was a tireless advocate for many causes. His passion included inclusion of the LGBTQ+ communities in sports. A picture of Wahl, along with a reserved chair, was placed in each press box to honor his memory.

Block has new kids

Nobody knew what to expect from St Louis City SC’s inaugural season, but the first game in franchise history coming against one of the top teams in the Western Conference is rarely a welcomed sight. The debutants won a historic victory against Austin FC with two goals scored in under ten minutes. St. Louis is currently the West’s premier soccer team. I don’t think anyone would object if we stopped counting points immediately after this game.

“It doesn’t count unless you go bardownski, schmeltz”

With MLS’ propensity for stellar sophomore seasons, the hype and expectations surrounding Thiago Almada were seemingly impossible to meet. Someone forgot to tell Thiago Almada, who actually defied all expectations and saved Atlanta United’s opening-day loss.

Down 1-0 two minutes into stoppage time, Almada received a short corner on the edge of San Jose’s penalty area and unleashed an absolute rocket that somehow didn’t shatter the underside of the crossbar on its way in. The final kick of game six minutes later was the cherry on top. Almada stood over a free kick about 25 yards away and sent a beautiful curling ball around the wall to pass the keeper, earning the three points in front a cheering Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

All Hail the Man In Black

By far the coolest jersey in MLS this year, Nashville’s Johnny Cash-inspired blackout kit would strike fear into the heart of nearly any team. That was the case when captain Walker Zimmerman scored the first goal of the 2023 season and the whole team paid homage on the day before what would’ve been Cash’s 91st birthday by celebrating with some air guitar.

Drama in the District

Marc-Anthony Kaye scored Toronto FC a 2-1 victory in the 83rd minutes. This was the perfect way to end a successful offseason. However, Wayne Rooney’s men had other plans. Similar to Atlanta’s incredible reverse of fortune, D.C. United scored twice in stoppage time through Christian Benteke and Theodore Ku-Dipietro.

The Return of the King

After missing nearly all of last season with a back injury, Real Salt Lake captain Damir Kreilach capped off his side’s second-half charge, scoring the winning goal on the road against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Real currently holds the MLS record, which dates back to 2010, for the longest streak of unbeaten opening days. It is even more remarkable that 13 of them were played away from home.

It doesn’t hurt to have a little snow, right?

El Trafico, the derby between Los Angeles FC and LA Galaxy, was postponed yesterday due to Southern California’s first blizzard warning since 1989, or as Canadians like to call it: Tuesday.

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