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Goals galore as the XXI MLS season kicks off

There was no shortage of entertainment in store for "Soccer Sunday" as Major League Soccer got back underway. Red cards and late, late goals kept fans in their seats.

Goals galore as the XXI MLS season kicks off
AFP

As we kick-off the first week of the XXI Major League Soccer season we saw an incredible goal from Tommy McNamara just 10 minutes into the game between Chicago Fire and New York City FC. Big celebrations followed at the Toyota Stadium in the Windy City. 

New York Red Bulls 0  vs. Toronto FC 2

The first surprise of the season came in the game between New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC. Although New York dominated for most of the match, it was the visitors who took the lead through Sebastian Giovinco - the best player of last season - who knocked home a penalty that he had a hand in creating. This was in the 82 minute and as the game draw to a close Marco Delgado, assisted by Giovinco, killed the tie. 

Orlando City SC 2 vs. Real Salt Lake 2

In front of 60,147 spectators in the Citrus Bowl, Orlando City welcomed Real Salt Lake but unfortunately the fans didn't get to see one of the biggest stars of the league as Brazilian Kaká was out injured. The visitors had the clear advantage coming into the home straight after two goals from Joao Plata, a penalty in the 26th minute and another in the 66th.  But as is often the case, football is very unpredictable and anyone leaving the stadium early would have missed an incredible comeback. Cyle Larin halved the deficit in the 94 minute and seconds later, as the whistle was about to be blown for full-time Adrian Winter gained a point for the home side. A definite two points dropped for Salt Lake.

The game saw two red cards in the first half meaning that it was 10 vs. 10 for the second 45.

Chicago Fire 3 vs. New York City FC 4

Elsewhere Sunday, Patrick Vieira's managerial reign got off to a winning start as New York City FC opened their campaign with a 4-3 victory at the Chicago Fire. World Cup-winning former France international Vieira is hoping to inspire a transformation in New York's fortunes after a disappointing inaugural season that saw them fail to reach the playoffs. Vieira was relieved to have secured the first three points of his tenure after a late Chicago fightback, which saw a tense finale after David Accam's 72nd-minute penalty cut City's lead to 4-3.

"I think it was a really good team performance," said Vieira. "I strongly believe we are not at our best at the moment because it was the first game of the league. We will get better and stronger."

New York, missing the injured Frank Lampard, had opened the scoring after just 10 minutes, with midfielder Thomas McNamara curling a superb right foot shot into the top corner to make it 1-0. Romanian international Razvan Cocis equalized for Chicago in the 19th minute, springing the New York offside trap with ease before coolly finishing past City goalkeeper Josh Saunders. City responded swiftly, however, with goals from Tony Taylor and United States youth international Khiry Shelton putting the visitors 3-1 ahead. Nigerian midfielder Kennedy Igboananike clawed a goal back for Chicago after the break but US international Mix Diskerud's sweetly struck 63rd minute volley restored City's two-goal cushion before Accam's late penalty for Fire.

San José Earthquakes 1 vs. Colorado Rapids 0

There wasn't much to choose between these local rivals but the three points went to the home side. The difference was a goal in the 46th minute for veteran forward, Chris Wondolowski, assisted by Alberto Quintero and Quincy Amarikwa. 

Houston Dynamo 3 vs. New England Revolution 3

Six goals were shared in an entertaining affair in Houston where Diego Fagundez opened the scoring for the visitors in just the third minute. It took until just before the break before Cristián Maidana levelled the scores. Five minutes into the second half, Andrew Wenger made it 2-1 for the home team but this time it was the Revolution, through Charlie Davies, who pulled it back. Again Houston went ahead with Giles Barnes making his mark only for Daigo Kobayashi to save the point for New England in the 93rd minute.

FC Dallas 2 vs. Philadelphia Union 0

In a quite lively game FC Dallas took the lead through Fabian Castillo in 22 minutos. Maximiliano Urruti added a second in the 79th minute to put the game to bed. 

Portland Timbers 2 vs. Columbus Crew 1

In front of a full Providence Park (capacity 21,144) Portland welcomed Columbus and sent them away with nothing to show for their efforts. The reigning champions from Oregon, the Timbers won in what was a rematch of last season's MLS Cup final. Midfielder Diego Valeri and Nigerian forward Fanendo Adi scored the goals for the champions.

Crew's goal came via a spectacular bicycle kick from Federeico Higuain, the 31-year-old elder brother of Argentina and Napoli star Gonzalo Higuain.

Portland head coach Caleb Porter was delighted with a victory he believed has laid down a marker for the season. "We showed today that we picked up right where we left off, that last year wasn't an anomaly," Porter said.

Vancouver Whitecaps 2 vs. Montreal Impact 3

In spite of star man Didier Drogba missing (he does not want to play the early season games on artifiical turf), Montreal Impact came out top in the Canadian derby against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Piatti scored first in the 19th minute and the second for Montreal came just before the half time whistle from Oduro. But the Whitecaps weren't ready to throw in the towel. No sooner had Oduro given the visitors a cushion than Harvey got one back lifting the home fans in the stadium and changing the team talks about to take place. Into the second half and it took until the 88th minute (again Piatti) to restore the two-goal cushion, only for the Whitecaps to get a consolation on the final whistle through Waston. Conceding late goals will be on the minds of the two coaches going into Matchday 2 but this result may show that Montreal aren't so reliant on Drogba to get wins.

Seattle Sounders 0 vs. Sporting Kansas City 1

Seattle were keen to get off to a great start this campaign in an attempt to keep pace with their rivals the Portland Timbers, but it wasn't to be. El game started as expected with the Sounders having the best of it and two decent chances fell to Morris and Dempsey. But later Sporting Kansas City took control and could have been ahead had it not been for Frei in goals for the home side. Seattle managed to get back into the game, until Fisher was sent off. Playing the second half with ten men proved too much and Sporting scored the only goal of the game, a long range effort, in minute 72. 

Los Ángeles Galaxy 4 vs. DC United 1

Los Angeles Galaxy launched their new Major League Soccer season with a 4-1 victory over DC United on Sunday inspired by two of the star-studded outfit's lesser lights.
The Galaxy, whose starting line-up featured former Premier League stalwarts Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Nigel de Jong and Robbie Keane, had looked in danger of suffering a shock loss after United took the lead through Lamar Neagle on five minutes.

But the five-time MLS Cup champions staged a second half rally and drew level through unheralded defender Daniel Steres in the 54th minute after a corner from Mike Magee.

Magee then put Galaxy ahead, deftly steering home an angled lob from close range on 64 minutes to make it 2-1.

Magee then won a penalty converted by skipper Robbie Keane in the 83rd minute before heading home his second of the match four minutes later to complete the scoring.