MLS opening weekend: Vela ruins Inter Miami debut

carlos vela inter miami
Carlos Vela scored a worldie against Inter Miami in the opening weekend of MLS. Credits: Getty Images

The last MLS Cup ended in November, crowing the Seattle Sounders as champions. The American Major League Soccer returned this weekend, 3 months after, despite concerns about the Coronavirus outbreak.

This new MLS season adds two more teams to the competition, as Nashville SC and Inter Miami, with the latter joining the Eastern Conference and the first the Western Conference.

As it is widely known, Inter Miami has the sponsorship of David Beckham, former Manchester United, and LA Galaxy star. Ian Ayre, known in English football as a former chief executive of Liverpool is the CEO of Nashville, who is coached by Gary Smith.

However, the debutants had a hard task facing two of the heavy favorites for the MLS Cup win. Inter played LAFC, headlined by last season MVP Carlos Vela and Nashville faced Atlanta United, 2018 winner and conference finalist in 2019.

Here are the highlights of the first matchday and the MLS table east and west.

LAFC 1 x 0 Inter Miami

Inter Miami had their first-ever competitive match against LAFC, the sensational team that topped their conference during the regular season.

The Miami side was first tested when Carlos Vela attempted header was stopped by Luis Robles. The former New York Red Bulls keeper was the main protagonist for the newcomers, as he denied most of the opposition attempts.

However, he was unable to stop Carlos Vela’s amazing solo goal, as the Mexican forward dribbled 3 defenders and chipped the keeper. Vela, as you might be reminded, was the top scorer of last season’s MLS, scoring 36 goals in 33 appearances.

There were not many other highlights to add to the game. Although Inter Miami lost, the slim difference shows the debutants might do well enough this season.

Nashville SC 1 x 2 Atlanta United

The other new team on the competition, Nashville SC, faced also a tough opposition on Atlanta United. It was the first time the Nissan Stadium, who has hosted the US National Team a couple of times before, has received an official MLS match.

Ezequiel Barco gave the newcomers a welcoming gift as he broke the deadlock with 9 minutes on the clock. However, Nashville found a loose ball on the box to tie up the match and score their first MLS goal ever. It was Zimmerman, former LAFC center-back.

Unfortunately for Nashville, Atlanta turned the game back as Emerson Hyndman scored a volley after a corner to wrap the 3 points for the visitors. The goal, nonetheless, was controversial, as the ref had raised the offside flag before.

Just like Inter’s match, Nashville debut was not a dreamy one, but they still got some positive points to relish on. If they keep the same confident exhibitions they might have a word to say this season.

Houston Dynamos 1 x 1 LA Galaxy

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who moved to AC Milan, was LA Galaxy star and his competence in front of the goal was undeniable. 31 goals in 31 games show how important he was for the Los Angeles crest and any player tipped to replace him will have some heavy boots to fill.

Galaxy chose Chicharito Hernandez for the role and, even though the Mexican is a popular figure worldwide, he is not a prolific goalscorer as the Swedish was.

Still, the opening match between Galaxy and Houston Dynamos showed what Hernandez has to offer. Galaxy put a goal early on the scoreboard as Cristian Pavon curled effort hit the top corner of the net.

Javier Hernandez was not directly involved, but his positional intelligence was essential, as he dragged defenders and opened space for Pavon.

In the second half, Houston got back in the game, as an atrocious defensive mistake gave Manotas breathing space to score.

Joe Corona had a golden opportunity to seal the 3 points for Galaxy, but his attempt was cleared on the line. A draw is all LA Galaxy takes from the opening weekend.

Seattle Sounders 2 x 1 Chicago Fire

MLS Cup winners Seattle Sounders took off their new season with a home reception to Chicago Fire. In a dramatic game, a late winner gave the hosts the 3 points.

Robert Beric put Chicago Fire ahead in the early minutes of the second half, but Jordan Morris equalized at 62 minutes.

Morris became the hero and the MVP of the whole matchday, according to MLS Soccer, as he scored the winner in extra time. A bullet header that gave Seattle the perfect start to reconquer their title.

Montreal Impact 2 x 1 New England Revolution

All eyes were on Thierry Henry, who had his first coaching experience outside Europe. Henry had already coached Monaco and the Belgium National Team.

Still, Montreal Impact did not enter the game fully focused as the defense forgot about Teal Bunbury during a corner. A comeback was necessary and Montreal delivered.

Romell Quioto, Honduras born star, would tie up the game before half time, in another corner kick goal.

Montreal scored again in the second half, but their goal was overruled by the VAR technology. The Canadians would still take the 3 points, as Maximiliano Urruti took a tremendous chip effort into the top bin.

An auspicious season start for Montreal Impact, who have already confirmed the signing of Victor Wanyama.

About Jorge Costa 120 Articles
Jorge Costa is a freelance journalist, with a Masters Degree in Journalism and Communication, through the University of Coimbra, Portugal. He specializes in sports and soccer in particular.

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