Best moments from MLS opening day: St Louis City SC starts with a bang
It wouldn’t be MLS if there weren't dramatic finishes, come-from-behind wins, and massive upsets.
Opening day in Major League Soccer has come and gone, but not without its fair share of amazing storylines. After all, it wouldn’t be MLS if there weren't dramatic finishes, come-from-behind wins, and massive upsets. Let's take a look at some of the best moments from Matchday 1 of the 2023 season.
Paying respects to a Titan
One of the most influential and respected sports journalists in the world, Grant Wahl helped bring soccer out of the shadows and into the forefront of North American fans. His passing on Dec. 10 whilst covering the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was a heavy blow to reporters, players, and fans alike. He was a passionate and relentless advocate for a number of causes, most notably inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in the world of sports. In his memory, a picture of Wahl was placed in every press box along with a reserved seat.
Paying tribute to one of the most prominent voices in our game.
Grant Wahl is forever in our hearts. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/WqbFdNlACT
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) February 26, 2023
New Kids on the Block
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. However, two goals in less than 10 minutes led the debutants to a historic maiden victory over Austin FC. After one game, St. Louis currently sits first in the West, so I don't think anyone would mind if we just stopped counting points right now.
What a day for St. Louis 👏 pic.twitter.com/niHmwSvlIf
— St Louis CITY SC (@stlCITYsc) February 26, 2023
“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 the Argentine, who instead shattered those expectations and saved Atlanta United from an 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. However, the cherry on top came six minutes later with the last kick of the game. Standing over a free kick from roughly 25 yards out, Almada sent a picture-perfect curling ball around the wall and past the keeper, securing the three points in front of a rapturous Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
2022 FIFA World Cup winner and @ATLUTD star, Thiago Almada, scores two INSANE back-to-back stoppage time golazos to give Atlanta United a 2-1 win in their season opener! 🇦🇷☄️ pic.twitter.com/23fNSpmWe8
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) February 26, 2023
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.
Walker Zimmerman sends in the first goal of the 2023 MLS season for Nashville SC!
The USMNT defender had four goals all of last season for his club.pic.twitter.com/l5rXGjzyz5
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) February 25, 2023
Drama in the District
When Marc-Anthony Kaye put Toronto FC up 2-1 in the 83rd minute, it looked like the first three points were in the bag to cap off 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.
99 minutes of 𝐦𝐚𝐲𝐡𝐞𝐦. pic.twitter.com/sYB8pAF6q7
— D.C. United (@dcunited) February 26, 2023
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 now holds the MLS record for the longest unbeaten streak on opening days, stretching back to 2010. Even more impressive is the fact that 13 of them came while playing away from home.
He's back! 🤩
Damir Kreilach finds the game winner for @realsaltlake. pic.twitter.com/lxBsN7muJp
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) February 26, 2023
A little snow never hurt nobody, 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.