MLS kicks off season with slate of exciting games

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Courtesy of Cecilia Hammond

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Hannah May- Powers, Staff Reporter

Major League Soccer kicked off its 25th season Feb. 29 with fans filling stadiums across the U.S. and Canada to celebrate one of the most highly anticipated weekends of the season. These electric atmospheres show the passion and drive behind the 26 teams participating in the league this season.

The reigning champions Seattle Sounders FC began their season with a 2-1 win against Chicago Fire FC. Though Chicago looked promising when Robert Beric put the team ahead in the 46th minute, Seattle’s Jordan Morris’ performance proved to be too dangerous for his opponents when he secured the win for the Sounders by putting away his second goal of the night during stoppage time. 

Atlanta United’s 2-1 win against Nashville SC ended on a bitter note when Venezuelan striker Josef Martínez suffered a torn right ACL during the second half. Martínez’s presence will surely be missed this season given his proven goal-scoring abilities as demonstrated last season by the 15 consecutive games in which he scored. Though the night did not end in victory for Nashville, it was nevertheless significant given that it was the club’s inaugural match as part of MLS. 

Inter Miami CF, which also marked its entrance into the MLS, faced-off against Los Angeles FC on the weekend. Like their fellow league newcomers, the game ended in disappointment. It was LAFC’s Carlos Vela’s fatal chip into the net during the 44th minute that made the difference for the host team. Though coming away from the match with a loss, Inter Miami created some special moments during the first half, such as when Matias Pelligrini and Nicolas Figal both had shots on target.

Though FC Cincinnati enjoyed a productive second half when Allan Cruz and Juergen Locadia both found the back of the net, it was not enough to secure a win against the New York Redbulls. Though disheartening for fans, perhaps this result is not surprising given that the team has been without a permanent head coach since Feb. 17 after Ron Jans was fired as a result of racist behavior. This game showed a worrisome continuation of last season’s disappointing results, in which the team won only 6 out of 34 matches. This was also the most goal-heavy game of the weekend, with Kyle Duncan, Alejandro Sebastián Romero Gamarra, also known as Kaku, and Danny Royer scoring for the Red Bulls, making the final score 3-2.

The Montreal Impact were the only Canadian team to earn a win over the weekend. This will be the first full season in the MLS for Montreal’s head coach Thierry Henry. Though considered one of the greatest strikers of his generation, the Frenchman’s club managerial career has yet to live up to the expectations he set as a player. Despite doubts around the club’s leadership, goals by Rommel Quito and Maxi Urruti solidified a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution. 

With two new teams and increasing popularity surrounding the league, it is sure to be an exciting season for the MLS. March 7-8 will see the second weekend of games for the league.