MLS

Expansion team St Louis City make MLS history with third straight victory, Cincy's statement win

By Sports Desk March 12, 2023

Expansion team St Louis City made it three wins from three games to open their debut MLS campaign triumphing 2-1 away to Portland Timbers on Saturday.

The Missouri outfit became only the second expansion team in MLS history to start 3-0-0, with goals from Jared Stroud and Kyle Hiebert completing another comeback win.

Towering centre-back Zac McGraw had put Portland ahead in the third minute with a header from Eryk Williamson's set piece.

Stroud netted his second goal of the season on the stroke of half-time for 1-1, lashing in after Rasmum Alm's cross from the right side.

Canadian defender Hiebert came up with the winner in the 75th minute with his header finding its way into the back of the net from Eduard Lowen's free-kick.

St Louis have come from behind to win in all three MLS games to date and are the only team with nine points from three games.

Cincinnati produced a statement win, despite being reduced to 10 men, with a 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders.

Brenner netted the winner in the 63rd minute, before Nick Hagglund's 80th-minute red card forced Cincy to hang on against the Sounders, who had won their opening two games.

Joaquin Torres came up with a 90th-minute winner with a long-range left-foot strike for last season's MLS Cup runners-up Philadelphia Union as they edged nine-man Chicago Fire 1-0.

New York City secured their first win of the new season after Christopher McVey's 36th-minute own goal in their 1-0 triumph over Inter Miami.

New York Red Bulls' winless start to the new season continued with a 1-1 draw in snowy conditions at Minnesota United, where Andres Reyes headed a 49th-minute leveller for the visitors.

Teenager Caleb Wiley scored a double with an assist as Atlanta United piled on three first-half goals in their 3-0 road victory over Charlotte who have lost three straight to open the new campaign.

Montreal were also left without a point after three games, going down 2-0 at Nashville, while Chris Durkin equalised in the 80th minute as DC United drew 1-1 with Orlando City.

Toronto drew 1-1 at home with Columbus Crew, while Vancouver Whitecaps and Dallas finished with the same scoreline.

Sporting KC and LA Galaxy drew 0-0, Austin won 2-1 at Real Salt Lake and 10-man SJ Earthquakes held on for a 1-0 win over Colorado Rapids after a stunning Cristian Espinoza strike.

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     Philadelphia Union have officially announced the signing of a contract extension with their star goalkeeper, Andre Blake. The new deal keeps Blake with the club through 2026, with an option for 2027, further cementing his legacy as a cornerstone of the team's success.

    Blake, 33, stands out as the only player to have won the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award three times. Additionally, he is a four-time MLS All-Star and a three-time MLS Best XI selection, accolades that underscore his exceptional talent and consistency.

    "Since joining the team, Andre has been a foundational piece to the club’s achievements," Union sporting director Ernst Tanner said in a statement. "He has shown himself to be one of the best goalkeepers in North America, and along with his proven sporting value, has taken on a leadership role both on and off the field. His guidance will play an important role in the further development of our young players and the team’s success. We’re happy to have reached an agreement to keep him here in Philadelphia."

    Since being selected No. 1 overall in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, Blake has been a stalwart in goal for the Union, amassing 73 clean sheets in 236 matches. His stellar performances have been instrumental, particularly during the club’s 2020 campaign when they clinched the Supporters' Shield.

    Blake's influence extends beyond club soccer. As an integral part of the Jamaican national team, he has earned 75 caps and often serves as the team's captain. His leadership and skill have helped the Reggae Boyz reach two Concacaf Gold Cup finals.

    With Blake’s extension, Philadelphia Union fortify a veteran-heavy core as they aim for a seventh consecutive appearance in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. His presence in goal not only enhances the team's defensive solidity but also provides a role model for younger players coming through the ranks.

    Blake’s commitment to the Union and his continued excellence between the posts signal a bright future for both the player and the club. As Philadelphia Union continue their pursuit of further silverware, having a player of Blake’s caliber and experience will undoubtedly be a significant advantage.

     

     

     

  • LA Galaxy v Houston Dynamo: Vanney hoping home run can build momentum LA Galaxy v Houston Dynamo: Vanney hoping home run can build momentum

    Greg Vanney is aiming to build some momentum for the LA Galaxy as they look to end a run of four draws against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.

    The Galaxy are on a five-match winless run in MLS, with another goalless draw against Charlotte last weekend seeing them drop to fourth in the Western Conference.

    After a run of four away games in their previous five outings, LA are now due to play four of their next five at Dignity Health Sports Park, which is also where they got their last win.

    "This is a big phase for us to really build some momentum in all ways, being in front of our fans and being at home for this next stretch," said Vanney, as quoted in The Galactic Tribune.

    "Obviously, we've got to go on the road once more, but hopefully build on the momentum and get some points."

    Houston Dynamo have won just one of their last six MLS matches and dropped more points in a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas last Saturday as they sit eighth in the West.

    Ben Olsen is upbeat about the Dynamo’s recent performances, though he admits they need to learn lessons from their recent results.

    "The reality is the performances aren't necessarily resembling the points that we're getting," he said.

    "We're actually in a nice rhythm of consistency. I know it's hard to say that when we're not maximising points, but the way we're going about the games is pretty good, and it's pretty consistent.

    "We'll keep working at it. That's all you can do. What else are you going to do, quit?"

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    LA Galaxy – Joseph Paintsil

    Paintsil has contributed to at least one goal in four straight home matches (two goals, three assists), including recording an assist in the last three.

    Only one Galaxy player in the last decade has recorded an assist in four straight home matches: Douglas Costa between June and August 2023.

    Houston Dynamo – Ibrahim Aliyu

    Amine Bassi scored his first goal of the season in Houston’s 1-1 draw with Dallas last weekend, becoming the ninth different Dynamo player to find the back of the net.

    However, only one player has netted more than a single goal for them this campaign, with Aliyu netting four.

    MATCH PREDICTION – LA GALAXY WIN

    The Galaxy’s 0-0 draw with Charlotte on Saturday was their fourth consecutive draw and they’ve shared the points a joint-league high seven times this year. LA have drawn five consecutive regular-season matches only once before, doing so in May 2009.

    The Dynamo have lost only one of their last six away matches against the Galaxy dating back to 2017 (two wins, three draws). Houston have kept clean sheets in each of their last two visits, and the only team to keep three straight clean sheets at the Galaxy in MLS play is the Columbus Crew, who did so between 2004 and 2006.

    However, the Dynamo have alternated between wins and losses on the road this season, including a 1-0 defeat to Austin in their last away match. Houston have won four away matches in a single regular season just once since 2014, winning four times away from home in 2022, including at the Galaxy.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    LA Galaxy – 42.4%

    Draw – 25.6%

    Houston Dynamo – 32%

  • Vancouver boss Sartini not worried about reception for 'artist' Messi Vancouver boss Sartini not worried about reception for 'artist' Messi

    Vanni Sartini has no problem with Vancouver Whitecaps fans who wish to cheer Lionel Messi when Inter Miami visit BC Place on Saturday, but he wants his players to ignore the Argentine's presence and focus on themselves.

    Miami are currently leading the way in the Eastern Conference and the Supporters' Shield race, with last week's 1-0 win over D.C. United lifting them to 31 points from 15 games. 

    Messi has contributed 10 goals and nine assists in MLS play this year, and he is expected to feature in Canada despite sustaining a knock in a training session earlier this week.

    Supporters' desire to see the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner play has led to some bizarre atmospheres since he arrived in MLS, but Sartini will not tell Vancouver's fans who to applaud.

    "It's like going to the Louve and saying, 'don't cheer for the Mona Lisa'. Messi is an Opera artist," Sartini said in his pre-match press conference.

    "I'm going to be more excited to see David Beckham than Messi… it's a generational thing. I hope Beckham comes, even my wife will be more happy if Beckham comes!"

    Changing tone, Sartini said: "We cannot limit the danger of Messi and Luis Suarez. 

    "We must prevent the ball from being passed towards them and we need to be in the right state of mind. Let's forget about Messi and focus on our own performance."

    Vancouver currently occupy the final automatic playoff spot in the West, taking 19 points from their first 13 matches of 2024.

    Messi's Miami team-mate Robert Taylor believes the World Cup winner has made the rest of Gerardo Martino's squad better this year, saying: "Everyone knows what he

    brings on the field; he scores, he assists, he does amazing things on the field, he brings us results. 

    "Then in training, there's this energy around the team, he makes everyone better.

    "That's because of his personality, he wants to win every game – even in training – and I think that's been lifting everyone up a lot recently."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Vancouver Whitecaps – Ryan Gauld

    Gauld scored a stoppage-time penalty to earn Vancouver a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Sounders last time out, and the Whitecaps' last five goals in MLS play have now been scored either by the Scot (two) or Brian White (three).

    Inter Miami – Lionel Messi

    Messi has failed to record a goal contribution on two successive starts for just the second time since joining Miami last year. 

    The last time Messi went three or more straight starts in league play without contributing to a goal was on his first four starts for Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, between September and October 2021.

    MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

    Despite progressing in the Canadian Championship on away goals in midweek, the Whitecaps are winless in their last four matches across all competitions (one draw, three losses).

    Miami, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last nine, winning six and drawing three, though they were held to a goalless draw in their last road game against Orlando City.

    Messi missed that Florida derby, though, and the Herons have won their last seven league matches when he has been named in their starting lineup, boasting an overall record of 10 wins, two draws and one defeat in 13 league games with Messi starting.

    The Whitecaps, however, are unbeaten in their last nine regular-season games against Eastern Conference opponents dating back to the start of last season, winning four and drawing five.

    The only team from the East to win in Vancouver since the start of 2021 was the Chicago Fire in July 2022. With that in mind, a draw could be on the cards on Saturday.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Vancouver Whitecaps – 38.5% 

    Inter Miami – 31.7%

    Draw – 29.8%

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