If there was ever a time to get into MLS, this is it. Rarely will you find an opening week provide as much entertainment as this one, each game seemingly providing special moments to the audience. It was as perfect of a debut the league could make on their Apple TV journey, and it was fantastic to be able to watch it all this weekend (thank you TMobile.)
It felt like a greatest hits collection to start out the 2023 MLS season. Everything great about the league was on display. The atmosphere’s across the league were top notch, some of the best we’ve ever seen in American soccer. I hope it will hold up for the rest of the season, because the crowds we saw all weekend were simply infectious. The players on the pitch replicated that energy, with not a single boring game on display. There was not a single tie to be found, Ted Lasso would truly be proud indeed.
Full of late winners, stellar debuts, and star-making performances, matchday one provided all of the thrilling moments that you could ask for as a fan. Here are the five best moments from matchday one that will surely be on repeat all week.
5. Mateusz Klich Introduces Himself to MLS in Style
I went back and forth between this goal and Walker Zimmerman’s goal to ring in the new MLS season, but this was a truly special effort by Klich. The former Leeds fan favorite unloaded an absolute rocket in the 13 minute from about 30 yards out that glided into the bottom right corner. Everything about this strike was perfect, from the power generated to the pinpoint accuracy. What a debut for a player who’s signing may have unfairly flown under the radar this offseason.
4. Henry Kessler Snatches Three Points Late for the Revolution
The opening contest between Charlotte FC and New England Revolution was as close as one could get. The two sides were inseparable, and the match seemed destined for a 0-0 draw. Then out of nowhere center back Henry Kessler scored the winner for the Revolution. It’s unfortunate for the hosts Charlotte, one lost possession and a bad bounce off of a defender in the box left them without points. For New England, Kessler’s game winner provides a huge early away victory.
3. Klauss Caps off a Dream Debut for St. Louis City
I don’t think many saw this one happening. Facing last year’s Western Conference Runner-Ups, St. Louis City fought and earned the victory in their first ever MLS match. Of course, they were gifted a goal in the 78th minute as Jared Stroud was legitimately given the ball on a silver platter by Austin FC defender Kipp Keller, but it was Klauss’ late goal that won it for them. Poking it past the keeper on a brilliant move to cut inside the defender, Klauss gave the newly minted franchise a moment to remember. It will be interesting to see if they can continue off of this first win and fight for a playoff spot.
2. D.C. United Completes an Improbable 90th Minute Comeback
What a weird place the MLS can be sometimes. D.C. United pulled off an extremely improbable comeback with two goals in added time. Christian Benteke, yes you read that right Christian Benteke, brought the hosts level in the 90th minute. Ted Ku-Dipietro then scored the game winner in the 98th minute. It was a massive victory for Wayne Rooney’s squad, yes folks that Wayne Rooney, and one that could play a big role in how D.C. United’s season goes. They’ve struggled the past few seasons and showed some really good signs in this one.
1. Thiago Almada Carries Atlanta United to Victory
How about another late-game heroic effort to cap off week one? The 7:30 matchday window was truly a special one. After late winners from Kessler and Ku-Dipietro, Thiago Almada would not be outdone. The Argentine international leveled Atlanta’s contest against San Jose in the 93rd minute with a goal of the year contender. From just outside the box Almada fired a missile that dinged the cross bar and went in. Just minutes later he outdid himself, scoring a walk-off free kick to steal three points for Atlanta. Even in week one, it will be hard to find a goal that will top that free kick. Enjoy watching Almada now folks, he won’t be in the MLS for long.