Columbus Crew SC's unbeaten streak is up to 13 games after its draw with the Philadelphia Union while NYCFC starts the season 3-0 for the first time in club history.
CHESTER, Pa. (AP)—Columbus played the Philadelphia Union to a scoreless draw on Saturday to extend the Crew's unbeaten regular-season streak to 13 matches.
Most of the scoring opportunities for Columbus (2-0-1) came from Gyasi Zardes. He ran to Federico Higuain's back-heel pass in the 27th minute but Zardes' breakaway shot sailed wide. Zardes also had a good chance in the 51st minute on a header and came up empty on another one-on-one opportunity in the 64th.
Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen and Philadelphia's Andre Blake each made three saves.
Czech playmaker Borek Dockal made his first start for the Union (1-0-1) and CJ Sapong, who set the single-season scoring record last season for Philadelphia, signed a new contract with the club earlier in the week.
The first scoreless game of the season in the MLS snapped Philadelphia's four-game home winning streak.
D.C. 2, Houston 2
BOYDS, Md. (AP)—Luciano Acosta scored in second-half stoppage time and D.C. United rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie the Houston Dynamo 2-2 on Saturday at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
Darren Mattocks scored in his second straight game to pull United (0-1-2) within 2-1 in the 49th minute when he eluded his defender at the corner of the 6-yard box and sent a shot past goalkeeper Chris Seitz. Acosta, who was suspended for opening weekend and came off the bench for the final 28 minutes last Sunday, was left alone at the far post and one-touched Frederic Brillant's header off Seitz and in.
D.C. United's new Audi Field wasn't ready for the home opener, so a sold-out crowd of 4,000 attended the alternate venue. Last week, D.C. United faced Atlanta United in front of an MLS regular-season record crowd of 72,035 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Alberth Elis opened the scoring in the 30th minute for Houston (1-1-1) by hustling to win a back-header, chipping it over goalkeeper David Ousted and tapping it home. Seconds later, Elis capitalized on another defensive mistake, got to the edge of the 18-yard box and found an open Mauro Manotas in front of goal for a calm finish.
Minnesota 2, Chicago 1
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Ibson scored his first MLS goal in the second half, Sam Nicholson added another 11 minutes later and Minnesota United beat the Chicago Fire 2-1 on Saturday in its home opener.
Ibson gave Minnesota (2-1-0) a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute. His header was saved by Richard Sanchez, but Ibson was first to the rebound for a finish with the outside of his foot. After Chicago tied it four minutes later, Nicholson finished Ethan Finlay's well-placed cross with an open header to freeze Sanchez.
Rookie Elliot Collier, making his first start, scored his first MLS goal for Chicago (0-2-0). Minnesota misplayed it deep in its own area, Nemanja Nikolic had a wide-open shot blocked but Collier rolled it past a diving Matthew Lampson. Chicago was without midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger for family reasons.
It was a sell-out crowd of 23,138 at TCF Bank Stadium.
NYCFC 2, Orlando 0
NEW YORK (AP)—Ismael Tajouri and Maximiliano Moralez scored 12-minutes apart in the second half and New York City FC opened the season with three straight wins for the first time in the club's short history with a 2-0 victory over Orlando City on Saturday.
Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik misplayed a back-pass that went right to Tajouri inside the 18-yard box and Tajouri took a few touches to the penalty spot for an easy finish in the 62nd minute. After an Orlando giveaway to Saad Abdul-Salaam, Jesus Medina settled it for an oncoming Moralez to slide it home.
Here’s the second as 🇵🇾 meets 🇦🇷. Pay attention to Jesus Medina, who sets up Moralez with a lovely assist. This is what makes Medina so valuable, he can play anywhere across the frontline and play as a winger or false nine (📹:@NYCFC) pic.twitter.com/8if98b9bBh— Luis Miguel Echegaray (@lmechegaray) March 17, 2018
NYCFC (3-0-0) was without start David Villa due to a minor injury.
Orlando City (0-2-1), led by NYC's former coach Jason Kreis (2014-15), has its share of injury problems as well. Striker Stefano Pinho had a right ankle injury last Saturday, leaving on crutches, and playmaker Dom Dwyer will be out for at least two more weeks.
Sacha Kljestan made his debut for Orlando after serving a two-game ban. The club arrived late due to the St. Patrick's Day parade traffic.
Montreal 1, Toronto 0
MONTREAL (AP)—Jeisson Vargas scored four minutes before the intermission to lift Montreal to a 1-0 victory over Toronto FC in the Impact's home opener Saturday.
It was the first MLS goal for 20-year-old Vargas and the first win for new coach Remi Garde, who replaced Mauro Biello in December as coach of the Impact (1-2)
Toronto (0-2) played its first game since a rousing victory in the CONCACAF Champions League over Mexican side Tigres. The travel to Mexico may have sapped some energy from the defending MLS champions, who nonetheless started most of their top players.
Garde seemed to catch everyone off guard by starting a three-man backline with former Marseille defender Rod Fanni making his debut in the middle.
It made for a mostly uneventful first half until Saphir Taider intercepted a ball and sent Ignacio Piatti up the middle. Three Toronto defenders focused on the Impact captain, leaving Vargas open on the right side to take the pass and slice a shot inside the goalpost in the 41st minute for their first lead in three games.
Piatti was inside the Toronto penalty area on two more occasions before the break but Nick Hagglund blocked one dangerous shot and another was also turned away.
Eight minutes into the second half, Piatti sent Taider in alone but Alexander Bono pushed the shot.
Toronto threatened in the 64th when Sebastian Giovinco got the ball to striker Jozy Altidore. He lifted a shot over goalie Evan Bush but saw it bounce just wide. Toronto looked to have tied it in the 84th minute when Altidore's shot got behind Bush and was rolling slowly to the goal line, but Michael Petrasso swept it away at the last second.
Atlanta 4, Vancouver 1
ATLANTA (AP)—Josef Martinez had his fourth career hat trick Saturday night to help Atlanta United beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-1.
Vancouver (2-1-0) played a man down, and from behind, for most of the match after Kendall Watson was given a straight red card for elbowing in the 13th minute that led to an Atlanta penalty kick. Martinez, a 24-year old who was fourth in MLS with 19 goals last season, converted from the spot moments later.
Atlanta's Julian Gressel tapped a cross from the right side that deflected off Vancouver's Aaron Maund for an own goal and, about two minutes later, Martinez scored from the top of the box to make it 3-0. On the counterattack, Miguel Almiron fed Martinez on a breakaway for the easy one-on-one finish in the 60th minute.
Vancouver's Erik Hurtado, in his first appearance this season, slipped behind the defense, ran onto a long arcing pass from Jordon Mutch and rolled the ball past goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 85th.
Martinez capped the scoring in the 88th with a leaping header off a cross from Andrew Carleton.
Atlanta (2-1-0) out shot the Whitecaps 21-5.
Kansas City 3, San Jose 2
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Graham Zusi scored for the first time since the 2016 season to help Sporting Kansas City beat the San Jose Earthquakes 3-2 on Saturday night.
Zusi, a 31-year-old defender, hadn't scored since a goal against San Jose on Oct. 23, 2016 in the regular-season finale.
Zusi took a pass from Roger Espinosa, evaded a defender on the right side and, from near the top of the box, ripped a rising left-footer past goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell to give Sporting a 2-1 lead in the 56th minute.
Johnny Russell drew a foul, conceded by Tarbell, in the area and Ilie Sanchez converted from the spot to give Kansas City (2-1-1) a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute.
Valeri Qazaishvili tied it in the 34th. His header, off the cross from Nick Lima, was blocked by Zusi but Qazaishvili ripped the rebound into the net.
Felipe Gutierrez fired a left-footer from just outside the box into the net to make it 3-1 in the 68th before Chris Wondolowski capped the scoring in the first minute of stoppage time. Wondolowski moved past Jeff Cunningham into second on MLS's career-scoring list with 135 goals.
San Jose (1-1-0) is winless in its last four against Sporting.
Salt Lake 1, New York 0
SANDY, Utah (AP)—Albert Rusnak scored on a penalty kick in the opening minutes and Nick Rimando had his MLS-leading 138th career shutout to help Real Salt Lake beat the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Saturday night in the snow.
David Horst drew a foul, conceded by Carlos Rivas, just inside the penalty area and Rusnak converted from the spot to give Real Salt Lake (1-1-1) the lead in the fourth minute.
Rimando, a five-time MLS All-Star, finished with four saves, including a pair of spectacular diving stops. The 38-year old made a diving one-handed stop of a half-volley by Vincent Bezecourt in the 26th and another diving save in the 54th minute, turning away Bezecourt's header from just outside the 6-yard box.
The Red Bulls (1-1-0) are winless, including two losses, in their last three games against RSL.
Chris Wingert, who played 14 MLS seasons and was a starter for Real Salt Lake's 2009 MLS Cup championship team, was honored at halftime. The defender, who played 10 seasons for RSL, announced his retirement on Feb. 19.