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Dublin: 15 °C Sunday 9 August, 2020

No dream MLS debut for former Barcelona coach Tata Martino as new season gets underway

Both expansion sides – Atlanta and Minnesota – suffered defeat in their opening fixtures.

Image: Todd Kirkland

THE 2017 Major League Soccer season got underway this weekend but there was no dream opening for the league’s new boys.

The campaign sees expansion teams in both Atlanta and Minnesota but both suffered defeats in their first fixtures, though for the latter, it proved much more of a reality check.

Coached by Everton legend Adrian Heath, Minnesota were thumped 5-1 by 2015 MLS Cup champions Portland Timbers on Friday night. No expansion side had ever lost so heavily in their opening game.

Last night, Atlanta fared a little bit better. Coached by former Barcelona boss Tata Martino, they hosted the New York Red Bulls in front of a crowd of 55,297 at the immaculate Bobby Dodd Stadium – the third-largest attendance for an expansion team’s home opener.

MLS Red Bulls United FC Soccer Source: Todd Kirkland

And, for a long time, it seemed like they were going to make a splash. They took the lead on 25 minutes through Yamil Asad and held it until just over ten minutes from the end.

Daniel Royer equalised from a corner and then, on 82 minutes, the guests found a winner when Anton Walkes put through his own net.

Elsewhere, it was a quiet enough opening weekend.

Reigning champions Seattle Sounders suffered a 2-1 defeat in Houston while fellow 2016 MLS Cup finalists Toronto FC were held to a scoreless draw by Real Salt Lake, with the normally reliable Sebastian Giovinco seeing his penalty saved by Nick Rimando.

Kevin Doyle started for the Colorado Rapids as they got their season off to a positive start with a 1-0 victory over New England Revolution while there were wins for Orlando (playing their first game at the brand-new Orlando City Stadium) and San Jose too.

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About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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