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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.

St Louis City FC brought the fireworks in their MLS debut. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
St Louis City FC brought the fireworks in their MLS debut. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (AP)

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.

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.

“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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.