Los Angeles (AFP) – Los Angeles FC made a sensational Major League Soccer debut on Sunday with a 1-0 victory in Seattle over the 2016 MLS Cup champion Sounders.
LAFC’s arrival offers an intriguing storyline to the season that began on Saturday as they attempt to exploit the decline of five-time MLS Cup champions Los Angeles Galaxy.
The club owned by a group that includes NBA legend Magic Johnson and Hollywood actor Will Ferrell certainly started in style against a Sounders team that not only lifted the Cup two years ago but finished runner-up to Toronto last year.
Moments after his cross was headed off the inside of the post by Latif Blessing, Diego Rossi scored the first goal in LAFC history in the 11th minute.
Mexico striker Carlos Vela slipped a pass to Rossi and the Uruguayan clinically finished first time from 24 yards out.
It was the fastest goal scored by an expansion club — 33 seconds quicker than Fredy Montero’s strike in the Sounders’ inaugural match, a 3-0 win over New York Red Bulls in 2009.
“I’m so excited my @LAFC soccer team won our first MLS game 1-0 over Seattle,” Johnson tweeted. “Congratulations to my partners, our manager Bob Bradley, players, and fans.”
Nouhou Tolo almost leveled for the hosts two minutes later, but former Sounders goalkeeper Tyler Miller dived left to deny him.
Miller’s strong showing against his former teammates also included a stop of Christian Roldan’s late effort.
“For me, playing against Seattle, it was a good moment for me because I really enjoy this city, I really like this city and the organization,” Miller said. “But for me it’s just a game and the fact that we can do it with a new group of guys where, maybe people don’t have that high of expectations, but we have high expectations for the club and what we’re going to do this year.”
His efforts helped make it a winning return to the sidelines for Bradley, the former US national team coach who is returning to management after his ill-fated 85-day stay with Swansea City in the English Premier League in 2016.
Bradley told reporters that after the first 25 minutes “it was more about fighting and defending.
“But when you’re starting out as a team, you have to learn how to win different kinds of games. So, a lot of positives, great to win, still a lot of work to do.
“I don’t think we showed football-wise what we’re capable of,” he added. “But that’s only going to get better. I’m very confident as we build this team we’re going to see some real football.”
With their new stadium still under construction, LAFC won’t host a game until April 29.
They will be the visitors at the Galaxy’s StubHub Center in Carson on March 31 when the newest cross-town MLS rivalry opens.