Kei Kamara

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Late strikes, debut wins, and golazos all feature in 2020 MLS opening day

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Major League Soccer got its 2020 season under way on Saturday, and there were plenty of exciting storylines and moments to dot the Leap Day landscape.

[ MORE: Everything goes wrong for Liverpool ]

Most notably, Nashville S.C. got a rude welcome to the league as the debutants were dropped 2-1 at home against Atlanta United. Ezequiel Barco struck just nine minutes in on an exquisite Atlanta counter-attack, delivering a low right-footed shot inside the far post. USMNT defender Walker Zimmerman responded just before the half-hour mark, writing himself into the Nashville S.C. record books with the club’s first-ever goal. He rose high to meet a free-kick into the box, and while his header went basically nowhere, he was able to get a foot to it and poke the ball in for the equalizer.

Nashville would be happy to go into halftime level with one of the best teams in the league, but Emerson Hyndman made sure the visitors would enter the break on top, fizzing a blistering volley in for a deserved lead before the break.

Nashville was up for the challenge and had plenty of chances, but each opportunity seemed just a whisker away from being converted. David Accam nearly got to a 53rd minute Dominique Badji cross but his slide was inches away. With 12 minutes to go, Randall Leal smacked the post with a vicious shot.

Unfortunately, while Atlanta held onto the three points, they may have lost far more as talismanic playmaker Josef Martinez went down in a heap in the 67th minute, immediately pointing to his knee. Replays showed he twisted it awkwardly avoiding a challenge, and while the Colombian tried to come back on, he eventually needed to be stretchered off the field.

Elsewhere, the LA Galaxy went ahead early on the road in Houston on a Cristian Pavon golazo, but they were held from there in a 1-1 draw. Houston actually held the lion’s share of possession – 59% worth of it – but only managed to put two of its 15 shots on target.

The Pavon goal was brilliantly worked, coming straight from goalkeeper Dave Bingham who blasted the ball down to Pavon, and the Argentine did the rest, delivering a fabulous curler past Marko Maric.

Houston was able to eventually earn a point, breaching the Galaxy defense in the 54th minute via Mauro Manotas who took a wonderful through-ball from Zarek Valentin and blasted a right-footed effort through a charging Dave Bingham.

Chicharito‘s debut saw the Mexican international take just one shot, coming from outside the box and missing the target. After the match, Chicharito said scoring early may have actually been a detriment. “Football is ironic sometimes, the worst thing was scoring a goal so early because after that I think we let them play, build their confidence and then the game became equal.” Joe Corona had chances for the visitors past the hour mark, but otherwise neither side threatened much.

USMNT defender Jonathan Lewis gave the Colorado Rapids a dramatic 2-1 victory on the road at D.C. United with a 92nd minute winner. Russell Canouse and Kei Kamara had cancelled each other out past the hour mark, but Lewis was on hand at the far post to tap in a scrappy winner late. Colorado may have missed the playoffs last season, but Robin Fraser has them off to a fast start.

Thierry Henry picked up a win in his first match in charge as the Montreal Impact topped the New England Revolution in Canada 2-1. Max Urruti won it in the 80th minute with an absurd goal, chipping Matt Turner with a bonkers poke on a long ball from Saphir Taider.

Teal Bunbury had given New England the early lead 13 minutes in, volleying home a cross from deep onto the right flank to put the visitors up, but Romell Quioto cancelled that out before halftime with a set-piece header. It seemed like Wilfried Zahibo had put New England up with 17 minutes to go, but after a video review it was chalked off for offside. Then Urruti delivered a stunner to seal Henry’s first victory as Impact boss.

The San Jose Earthquakes snatched a late 2-2 draw with finalists Toronto FC thanks to a 95th minute equalizer from Oswaldo Alanis. The 30-year-old Mexican ripped in an absurd free-kick from a tight angle to salvage the draw, the final of two great goals for San Jose. Toronto had worked a 2-0 lead by the 51st minute on relatively cheap goals from Alejandro Pozuelo and Richie Laryea, with Pozuelo’s coming from the penalty spot. Andres Rios got one back for San Jose in the 53rd minute, just two minutes after Toronto doubled its lead, and while the hosts held 63% possession throughout, it took until deep in stoppage time until Alanis found his moment.

Full MLS results

D.C. United 1-2 Colorado Rapids
Montreal Impact 2-1 New England Revolution
Houston Dynamo 1-1 LA Galaxy
San Jose Earthquakes 2-2 Toronto FC
FC Dallas 2-0 Philadelphia Union
Orlando City SC 0-0 Real Salt Lake
Nashville SC 1-2 Atlanta United

RSL clinches playoff spot, Western Conference picture still wide open

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Real Salt Lake was able to come away from Sunday’s carnage across the Western Conference playoff picture with a secured spot in the postseason, but a number of other clubs in the hunt weren’t so lucky.

Jefferson Savarino bagged a 75th minute winner to put RSL past Houston Dynamo 2-1, pushing them up to fifth in the Western Conference standings and securing a playoff position with 50 points, six above the cut line. The shot was a low drive from the edge of the box that caught Tyler Deric too close to his near post.

Not every team in the playoff hunt was so lucky. The Portland Timbers came from behind to draw Sporting Kansas City on the road 2-2, but it wasn’t enough to clinch, as they remain just two points above the cut line. The match featured three red cards, including the decisive moment in the 84th minute when Jeremy Ebobisse was tugged back by Ilie Sanchez while free on goal. It was a clear penalty and the referee sent off the Sporting KC defender for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Dairon Asprilla stepped up and produced a blistering penalty into the top-right corner, earning Portland the draw. The lone point still leaves them vulnerable, however, and now they face a do-or-die meeting with San Jose next weekend.

Speaking of the Earthquakes, they were pegged back at the death, denied a chance to jump above the cut line as Jordan Morris scored at the death, using his blistering speed to beat Florian Jungwirth to a poor back-pass header by Magnus Eriksson. On the break he finished cooly past Daniel Vega to fire an arrow into the hearts of the Earthquakes. San Jose can still find its way into the playoffs, controlling its own destiny, but they must win next week against the Timbers

Finally, FC Dallas slumped to a rough 3-0 defeat at Colorado, leaving them vulnerable as well as the final playoff team in the current standings, holding just a point advantage over the Earthquakes. FC Dallas out-shot Colorado 17-14, but were comprehensively beaten 10-3 in shots on target as their finishing let them down. Jack Price scored 10 minutes in to put Colorado up, and goals fromΒ Diego Rubio and Kei Kamara finished it off. They have a home date with Sporting KC on the final day where a win would clinch a playoff spot.

VIDEO: Kei Kamara scores superb bicycle kick goal against Sporting KC

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Kei Kamara has scored plenty of goals at Children’s Mercy Park, but none like his bicycle kick goal on Saturday.

The 35-year-old, now in his 16th season, showcased his penchant for scoring right before halftime against his former team. The goal makes 12 for the Colorado Rapids’ forward this season, placing him within the top 10 of the league and two begin his 14-goal season last year.

Overall, Kamara is fifth in the all-time MLS scoring list with 124 goals, second among active players behind San Jose Earthquakes’ Chris Wondolowski.

Enjoy a superb goal from a superb goalscoerer.

Chris Wondolowski sets another MLS record in historic career

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Just months removed from becoming MLS’ all-time leading goalscorer, Chris Wondolowski is putting pen to the record book once again.

The 36-year-old is the league’s first player to ever score 10 goals (or more) in 10 consecutive seasons. His tenth of the season came against Sporting Kansas City, who, for one reason or another, left him unmarked in the box on a corner kick – an imprudent defensive strategy.

Wondolowski’s regular-season tally is now at 154 goals, 31 goals clear of Kei Kamara‘s 123, who is the second highest active goalscorer in the league.

The San Jose Earthquakes captain’s record run began in 2010. He was 27.

Colorado Rapids sign free agent Feilhaber to 1-year deal

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Former Sporting KC midfielder Benny Feilhaber has completed a one-year deal with the Colorado Rapids, with an unspecified option for a second year, the club announced Friday.

Feilhaber spent two seasons with the New England Revolution before joining Sporting KC prior to the 2013 season, and became one of the more well-known members of the KC roster over a five-year spell, winning an MLS Cup in 2013. The 33-year-old joined LAFC before last season and made 34 league appearances for them, scoring three goals and adding six assists. He also started and played 73 minutes in the playoff loss to Real Salt Lake.

β€œBenny is a creative and experienced MLS veteran,” Rapids Executive VP & GMΒ Padraig Smith told the official team release. β€œHe is a player that will help balance our midfield and contribute to the scoresheet.”

According to reports, Feilhaber will make just under the maximum salary ofΒ $530,000, meaning he will not need to be bought down by GAM or be a Designated Player. He joins other new Colorado arrivals such asΒ Kei Kamara,Β Diego Rubio, and Keegan Rosenberry.

Feilhaber owns 44 appearances for the USMNT, but was infamously shut out of the squad by former manager Jurgen Klinsmann, and while he returned to the fold after Klinsmann was fired, his age prevented him from being a major contributor to the team.