Louis’ first win headlines an exciting opening weekend

A night to remember and an embarrassing mistake on the cover of the first winners and losers of the week for Round 1 in MLS. (Associated Press)

With just one game left to play before Round 1 is completely behind us, let’s preview the extremely interesting first few games of the 2023 MLS season. What better way to do that than by compiling a list of weekly winners and losers from around the league?

Winner: City of St. Louis

For the first time since Los Angeles FC did it in 2018, the expansion team won their first Major League Soccer game and it’s safe to say that everyone outside of the Austin city limits was happy for them.

St. Louis fought back 2-1 to beat highly regarded Austin FC, with forward Joao Klauss scoring the game-winner in the 86th minute to cap off a historic night.

Loser: Passing the ball to your teammates… kind of?

I’ll be completely honest, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve watched the replay of Austin FC’s Kipp Keller just handing off a breakaway to former teammate Jared Stroud instead of returning it to his keeper. It defies all logic. It was like when you play your little brother in FIFA and the game decides to throw him an easy goal to make him feel better. Stroud didn’t press him, and Keller had all the time in the world, giving him one of the most painful strokes in recent sports history.

Winner: New Themes

These new jerseys are just, wow. Hats off to creative teams around the league who apparently received some strongly worded memos from Apple to lay off the drab and uninspired kits. Almost every jersey on display – not counting the horrific kit clash between Inter Miami and CF Montreal – was a breath of fresh air and a great look at the look of each club and city they represent. With all that said, take a bow, Nashville SC, because your Man in Black gear is a work of art. On behalf of every Johnny Cash fan, thank you.

Loser: Lorenzo Insigne’s left foot

Insigne is marked as a savior Toronto FC’s string of disappointing seasons. From the moment he set foot on this side of the Atlantic, he became one of—if not the—most talented players in the league. For the second time since arriving, however, he was forced to leave the game with a non-contact lower-body injury, this time after just 34 minutes. This has become an increasingly worrying trend for the Italian international who will miss time for the tenth time since September 2021 due to a lower body ailment.

Winner: Thiago Almada’s right foot

It has been discussed, dissected and replayed endlessly, but it seems that no one cares about the two most beautiful goals from the first round. Someone should check the crossbar at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, because after a shot like Almada — our first competitor this year — he might still be shaking.

Loser: Scheduling Department

This will most likely only be an issue in the first few weeks and as schedule congestion and other competitions shake up the MLS schedule, people will hardly notice, but opening day was a real problem for Chicago Fire fans. It’s bad enough that their playoff hopes are very slim this year, but they are the only team left off the schedule and will have their season opener next weekend at home against New York City FC.

Winner: MLS Season Pass

Aside from a number of Miami and Montreal broadcast issues, opening day for Apple notwithstanding MLS Season Pass was a stunning success. Plenty of talent has been brought in from numerous MLS markets, and the content available to each team is nothing short of extensive. This is a great start, but they just need to give Canada some more love. Also, stop saving highlights and put them on YouTube. It’s a funny thing to keep from fans.

The loser: weather resistance

A decent amount of snow fell in Los Angeles over the weekend, forcing the league to postpone El Tráfico — the derby between LAFC and the LA Galaxy — until July 4th. In a sport where pitch quality matters as much as anything else, it’s ridiculous that every MLS stadium (this game was to be played at the Rose Bowl, home of the UCLA Bruins football team) doesn’t have measures in place to combat snowfall, it would should be a mandatory condition. We live in a world where climate change means snow can fall anywhere, almost anytime, and teams should face the consequences if their facilities are not suitable for holding games when there is snow or if they do not have adequate alternatives.

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