MLS Opening Day: Ibrahimovic, Bradley Star; FC Cincinnati Routed in Debut

Caleb Porter got a draw in his first MLS match as Columbus Crew manager, Zlatan scored the game-winner for the Galaxy and Jordan Morris powered the Sounders past FC Cincinnati in its MLS debut.
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SEATTLE — Playing his first MLS match since September 2017, Jordan Morris scored a pair of first-half goals, Kelvin Leerdam added another in the first 45 minutes, and the Seattle Sounders opened the regular season with a 4-1 romp over expansion FC Cincinnati.

The debut of the newest MLS franchise was overshadowed by Morris' return after missing the entire 2018 season due to a torn ACL in his right knee suffered while playing in the CONCACAF Champions League. Energized and rejuvenated after the year-long recovery, Morris was a burden for the expansion squad, bursting down both wings and finding himself in dangerous scoring positions.

He scored his first goal in the 33rd minute after switching sides of the field, hitting a right-footed shot that slightly deflected off Cincinnati defender Nick Hagglund and past goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton to give Seattle a 2-1 lead. It was Morris' first goal since Aug. 5, 2017 and his first goal at home since March 19, 2017, creating a dogpile celebration of teammates congratulating Morris for a moment that helped completion his recovery from the knee injury.

Ten minutes later, Morris collected his second as Victor Rodriguez's cross rolled dangerous through the penalty area and Morris finished with his left foot. It was the second two-goal game of Morris' career, the only other coming during his rookie season in 2016.

Morris was subbed off in the 77th minute to a rousing ovation from the home fans.

Kelvin Leerdam scored Seattle's first goal in the 27th minute after a cross from Nicolas Lodeiro was deflected by Tyton and Leerdam was in the perfect position to clean up the loose ball. Three of the four Seattle goals were scored by players who didn't score for the club in the 2018 season.

Raul Ruidiaz provided the capper in the 87th minute after scoring 10 goals in just 14 matches last season.

Cincinnati's debut as the 24th MLS franchise could not have started better. Its section of traveling fans filling an upper section of CenturyLink Field was given a stunning early memory thanks to Leonardo Bertone. Despite Seattle controlling the early action, Bertone wrote his place in club history with a perfectly struck volley from 25 yards out that beat Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei in the 13th minute and gave Cincinnati a 1-0 lead. The goal served as the lone highlight on a night the expansion squad looked very much like its title, but capped a wild year that saw the franchise capitalize on its massive success as a USL team and be awarded a spot in MLS just 277 days before its debut game.

Toronto FC 3, Philadelphia Union 1

CHESTER, Pa. — Michael Bradley scored his first goal since the 2016 season and added another in the second half for his first career multi-goal MLS game as Toronto FC opened the season with a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

Bradley, the eight-year MLS veteran who was scoreless in back-to-back 30-plus start seasons, scored the first goal of the 2019 season in first-half stoppage time with an easy redirection of Auro's cross to the penalty spot. His second goal in the 62nd minute also came on an open shot from the spot.

Nick DeLeon, an offseason acquisition from D.C. United, capped the scoring in second-half stoppage time with a shot from the top of the 18-yard box for his first goal since 2016.

Toronto had several other good scoring chances in the first half but Jonathan Osorio's penalty-kick attempt in the 34th minute was saved by Andre Blake and Jordan Hamilton's breakaway shot rolled just wide of the post.

Toronto has a four-game winning streak in the series and its undefeated streak against the Union has reached four years with its last loss coming on September 6, 2014.

Philadelphia ended a 359-minute scoreless stretch in the series on Marco Fabian's penalty kick goal in the 73rd. It was the MLS debut for the Mexican national team member. The Union nearly scored three minutes later but Toronto defenseman Laurent Ciman cleared it off the line.

Columbus Crew SC 1, New York Red Bulls 1

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gaston Sauro tied the game in the 41st minute and the Columbus Crew earned a 1-1 draw against the defending Supporters' Shield-winning New York Red Bulls in the season opener for both teams on Saturday.

Sauro's header redirected Federico Higuain's corner for the first MLS goal in his four-season career.

Andreas Ivan opened the scoring with his first MLS goal in the sixth minute, heading home Florian Valot's cross. Ivan scored his first Red Bulls goal on Wednesday in New York's 3-0 win over Atletico Pantoja in the Concacaf Champions League. The Red Bulls advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament and will face Santos Laguna in the first leg on Tuesday.

Caleb Porter made his debut as the coach of the Crew. He sat out a year following his tenure with the Portland Timbers from 2013-17.

LA Galaxy 2, Chicago Fire 1

CARSON, Calif. — Major League Soccer's past, present and future all converged at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday night.

One of the highlights of the opening day of the league's 24th season was the LA Galaxy unveiling a statue of David Beckham before their 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire. Beckham played six seasons with the Galaxy (2007-12) and led them to two championships.

Beckham saw one of the league's top players make an impact in the Galaxy's 2-1 victory. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on a header in the 80th minute for the go-ahead goal. Chicago's C.J. Sapong opened the scoring in the 49th minute and Daniel Steres tied it in the 68th on a header.

Beckham's signing gave higher prominence to the league internationally as more top players arrived and fan interest increased.

''No doubt our league wouldn't be what it is today if David didn't make that decision,'' MLS commissioner Don Garber said during a pregame ceremony. ''At that time we were a fledgling business and trying to figure out if soccer would make it in America. His signing told the world that Major League Soccer could be the league of choice.''

Beckham admitted that he felt a little sheepish to be the franchise's first statue in their legends plaza, which is located outside the stadium's main entrance. Former coach Bruce Arena, Landon Donovan and Cobi Jones have had success both in MLS and with the U.S. national team. In sketches of the plaza, AEG, which owns the Galaxy, has plans for more statues.

Arena spoke during the ceremony and Jones was among the former players who were in the crowd.

''In this era of analytics I am sure David's numbers would not stand out,'' Arena said. ''But when he scored goals, he scored decisive goals. He was simply a great leader and winner.''

Beckham was also placed in the team's Ring of Honor at halftime. He will have a chance to see his statue often during future seasons as he is one of the owners of Inter Miami FC, which will begin play in MLS next year.

''My commitment to his league and country was always a lot more than on the field,'' Beckham said. ''I wanted to grow the game and play a small part in growing this league and making it bigger. I think we have been successful but there still is a long way to go but I think we are very happy with the growth over the past 10 years.''

Montreal Impact 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Saphir Taider punched home a well-placed cross from Zakaria Diallo in the 44th minute and the Montreal Impact opened the season with a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night.

Ignacio Piatti tied it at 1 for the Impact with a rocket in the 29th minute. Piatti took Taider's short corner and weaved into a soft spot in the defense to get an opening for the close-range shot.

Magnus Eriksson gave the Earthquakes the lead in the 11th minute, turning on Valeri Qazaishvili's pass and sending in a left-footed shot from the top of the 18-yard box.

Coach Matias Almeyda made his Earthquakes debut.

Colorado Rapids 3, Portland Timbers 3

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Andre Shinyashiki scored in his MLS debut on a putback in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time and the 10-man Colorado Rapids salvaged a 3-3 draw against the Portland Timbers in the coldest match in MLS history on Saturday.

With a temperature of 18 degrees Fahrenheit at kickoff and a field covered by snow as the game progressed, Saturday's season opener surpassed the previous mark of 19 degrees set by Minnesota United's franchise opener on March 12, 2017.

Andy Polo's cross caused Colorado's Deklan Wynne to score an own goal that gave the Timbers a 3-2 lead in the 66th minute.

Benny Feilhaber weaved through several defenders to get a first look and then stabbed the putback to tie it at 2 for the Rapids in the 46th minute.


Sebastian Blanco headed home Diego Valeri's corner to make it 2-1 for the Timbers in first-half stoppage time.

Axel Sjoberg was sent off in the 27th minute after video review determined his handball in the area was the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Valeri's penalty kick was saved but he followed on the rebound to tie it at 1.

Kei Kamara opened the scoring for the Rapids with a tap-in in the 16th minute.

Orlando City 2, NYCFC 2

ORLANDO, Fla. — Chris Mueller and Tesho Akindele scored second-half goals to help Orlando City tie New York City FC 2-2 on Saturday in the second game of the MLS season.

Mueller pulled Orlando within 2-1 in the 59th when his free kick from the edge of the 18-yard box went untouched into the back of the net. Akindele, who spent the past five seasons in Dallas, tied it at 2 in the 75th with an easy tap-in of Dom Dwyer's cross in front of the goal. Akindele hobbled off the field after his sliding finish and was substituted out.

Ebenezer Ofori opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a shot from distance that went off the post and in. Alexander Ring made it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time by getting behind the defense for a through ball and chipping it over Brian Rowe.

It snapped NYCFC's four-game winning streak in the series as Orlando City broke a 457-minute scoreless stretch.

FC Dallas 1, New England Revolution 1

FRISCO, Texas — Carles Gil scored the tying goal in his MLS debut and the New England Revolution held on for a 1-1 draw against FC Dallas in the season opener for both teams on Saturday.

Gil finished a low-driving shot in the 57th minute after Jalil Anibaba sent in a wide cross that was headed away from goal by Antonio Mlinar Delamea, landing at Gil's foot. Gil transferred in the offseason from Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga and signed as a Designated Player on Jan. 30.

Michael Barrios opened the scoring for FC Dallas in the 13th minute, taking it 40 yards by himself to the right side of the area and finishing from an angle into the left corner.


Luchi Gonzalez made his head coaching debut for FC Dallas.

Minnesota United 3, Vancouver Whitecaps 2

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Darwin Quintero, Francisco Calvo and Romario Ibarra scored to help Minnesota United beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2 on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.

Erik Godoy and Doneil Henry scored for the Whitecaps in Marc Dos Santos's first match as coach.

Quintero tied it at 1 in the 37th minute, connecting on a penalty kick after Jakob Nerwinzki fouled Calvo in the box. Quintero easily deposited the shot high to the corner of the net, over the outstretched Maxime Crepeau.

Minnesota took the lead in the 66th minute when Calvo headed a cross from Quintero past Crepeau. Ibarra made it 3-1 in the 70th, and Henry pulled Vancouver within one on a header in the 81st.

Defender Godoy opened the scoring in the sixth minute.

Houston Dynamo 1, Real Salt Lake 1

HOUSTON — Mauro Manotas tied it in the 62nd minute and the Houston Dynamo held on for a 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake in the season opener for both teams on Saturday.

Manotas cut in front of defender Nedum Onuohato to connect to Adam Lundkvist's wide cross with a leaping right-footed stab.

Albert Rusnak opened the scoring in the 40th minute after his effective first touch on Corey Baird's pass allowed him to slip behind the defender and slot it home.

Matias Vera was sent off in the 81st minute, receiving his second yellow card of the match for unsporting behavior.