The highly anticipated 2016 MLS season got underway yesterday with a full round of ten fixtures, seeing all 20 teams in action on the same day.
Once again, MLS served up an offering which included all the crucial ingredients that make for an enjoyable and entertaining watch for fans.
There was drama, unpredictability, amazing goals, defensive horror shows, wonderful skill and high intensity, making the 2016 opening round of fixtures arguably the best yet in the history of the league. Here’s just three reasons why:
Highest goals per-game average for 10 yearsEmbed from Getty Images
If entertainment is what gives you a thrill, MLS didn’t disappoint. A total of 36 goals were scored on Sunday at an average of 3.6 goals-per-game.
That’s 20 more goals than 2015’s opening round of fixtures and two goals-per-game higher on average.
The last time there was such a goal-fest in the first games of the season was ten years ago in 2006 when there were 24 goals scored across six fixtures, at an average of four goals-per-game.
Despite 2006 seeing a higher average of goals-per-game, it’s of course worth bearing in mind how much MLS has improved in terms of the standard and quality of play since then, making the high goal ratio very impressive.
Five goals in injury timeEmbed from Getty Images
It was a day filled with late twists, most notably in Orlando City’s home game with Real Salt Lake. The Lions trailed 2-0 heading into injury time, before goals from Cyle Larin and Adrian Winter in the 94th and 95th minute secured a dramatic 2-2 draw for Adrian Heath’s side.
New England Revolution provided some injury time drama as they were trailing Houston Dynamo 3-2, before Daigo Kobayashi’s 93rd minute equaliser rescued a draw.
There were also some not so important late goals in terms of affecting the outcome of the game, as Toronto managed to put some gloss on the victory away at New York Red Bulls with a 91st minute goal from Marky Delgado to make it 2-0.
Vancouver Whitecaps also scored a 93rd minute consolation goal through Kendall Watson to reduce the deficit in their game at home to the Montreal Impact, which ended 3-2 to the visitors.
Three red cards
Not everyone likes red cards being dished out, but some view it as an entertaining part of the game to see how teams can cope with a man less. Whether you’re for or against players being sent off – it certainly always provides a talking point.
There were two red cards in the thrilling Orlando City vs Real Salt Lake game. RSL saw Demar Phillips sent off for a second bookable offence after 20 minutes, before Orlando’s Darwin Ceren saw a straight red on the stroke of half-time.
Oniel Fisher was also sent off for Seattle Sounders after 41 minutes as his side went on to lose 1-0 at home to Sporting Kansas City.Embed from Getty Images
Entertaining takeaways from the opening weekend:
- Chicago Fire and New York City served up a seven-goal thriller with NYCFC winning 4-3.
- Orlando scored twice in injury time to rescue a 2-2 draw.
- New England Revolution scored a last minute equaliser at Houston Dynamo in an enthralling 3-3 draw.
- Vancouver and Montreal provided us with five goals as the Impact won 3-2.
- LA Galaxy turned on the style by thrashing DC United 4-1.
Was the 2016 opening round of fixtures the best yet in MLS history?