Giorgio Chiellini, former captain of Italy, scored his first goal in Major League Soccer as defending champions Los Angeles FC held on to win their opening game of the season 3-2 against the Portland Timbers, who made a late rally.
Inter Miami, meanwhile, continued their winning start to the season with an impressive 2-0 victory over last season’s MLS Cup runners-up Philadelphia Union. On the other hand, Wayne Rooney’s D.C. United fell to a 2-0 loss at Columbus Crew.
Before the match, LAFC players were given their championship rings and the title banner was unveiled to mark their first title win last season. However, they quickly got down to business with Chiellini scoring in the 24th minute after Portland failed to deal with a cross into the box. Ryan Hollingshead then had an effort disallowed for a foul in the box, but LAFC soon had their second with Carlos Vela converting from the penalty spot after Santiago Moreno brought down Kwadwo Opoku.
Vela almost scored another goal with his curling free-kick clipping the outside of the post. He then turned provider with his ball inside well collected by Opoku who beat David Bingham with a low drive. Portland got back in the game when Juan Mosquera burst through the midfield and slipped the ball to club record signing Evander, who swept home his first goal since joining from Denmark’s Midtjylland in a reported $10 million deal.
With six minutes remaining in regular time, the Timbers pulled back another goal when LAFC keeper John McCarthy failed to reach a cross and, from the resulting scramble, Paraguay international Cristhian Paredes slotted home. Despite the late scare, LAFC held on to get their season off to a winning start after their scheduled opener last week was postponed due to bad weather.
Miami took the lead with a long-range strike from French forward Corentin Jean in the 32nd minute and sealed the victory with an outstanding strike from Finnish winger Robert Taylor. Just a minute after entering as a substitute, Taylor took a ball from Jean Mota on his chest and then volleyed into the far corner from the edge of the box.
Argentine-born number-ten Lucas Zelarayan was the hero for Columbus Crew with two superbly taken goals in a stylish win over D.C. The Armenia international fired the Crew ahead in the tenth minute with a superb shot on the turn after some clever footwork took him away from his marker. Zelarayan doubled the lead just before the break with a blistering first-time shot from a tight angle as D.C. were unable to follow up their opening-day win.
A fine solo goal from Italy winger Federico Bernardeschi put Toronto in front at Atlanta before the home side levelled on the hour through a deflected Matheus Rossetto drive. Greek forward Giorgos Giakoumakis, signed from Celtic, came off the bench and thought he had grabbed the winner, but his effort was ruled out for a tight offside and Atlanta had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Later on Saturday, St. Louis City made their home debut in the league against Charlotte.
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