LOS ANGELES, March 7 – Los Angeles Galaxy launched their new Major League Soccer season with a 4-1 victory over DC United on Sunday inspired by two of the star-studded outfit’s lesser lights.
The Galaxy, whose starting line-up featured former Premier League stalwarts Steven Gerrard, Ashley Cole, Nigel de Jong and Robbie Keane, had looked in danger of suffering a shock loss after United took the lead through Lamar Neagle on five minutes.
But the five-time MLS Cup champions staged a second half rally and drew level through unheralded defender Daniel Steres in the 54th minute after a corner from Mike Magee.
Magee then put Galaxy ahead, deftly steering home an angled lob from close range on 64 minutes to make it 2-1.
Magee then won a penalty converted by skipper Robbie Keane in the 83rd minute before heading home his second of the match four minutes later to complete the scoring.
In Oregon, champions the Portland Timbers defeated the Columbus Crew 2-1 in a rematch of last season’s MLS Cup final.
Portland midfielder Diego Valeri and Nigerian forward Fanendo Adi scored the goals for the champions.
Crew’s goal came via a spectacular bicycle kick from Federeico Higuain, the 31-year-old elder brother of Argentina and Napoli star Gonzalo Higuain.
Portland head coach Caleb Porter was delighted with a victory he believed has laid down a marker for the season. “We showed today that we picked up right where we left off, that last year wasn’t an anomaly,” Porter said.
Orlando City produced the opening day’s most remarkable result with an injury time fightback to snatch a 2-2 draw against Real Salt Lake in front of 60,147 fans at a sun-baked Citrus Bowl.
Salt Lake looked to be heading for victory after Joao Plata struck a 26th-minute penalty and a deft 66th-minute finish to put the visitors 2-0 up.
But Canadian striker Cyle Larin gave Orlando a flicker of hope after pulling a goal back in the fourth minute of time added on and then moments later Adrian Winter bundled home the ball after latching onto a speculative goal-kick to make it 2-2.
– Vieira’s winning start –
Elsewhere Sunday, Patrick Vieira’s managerial reign got off to a winning start as New York City FC opened their campaign with a 4-3 victory at the Chicago Fire.
World Cup-winning former France international Vieira is hoping to inspire a transformation in New York’s fortunes after a disappointing inaugural season that saw them fail to reach the playoffs.
Vieira was relieved to have secured the first three points of his tenure after a late Chicago fightback, which saw a tense finale after David Accam’s 72nd-minute penalty cut City’s lead to 4-3.
“I think it was a really good team performance,” said Vieira. “I strongly believe we are not at our best at the moment because it was the first game of the league. We will get better and stronger.”
New York, missing the injured Frank Lampard, had opened the scoring after just 10 minutes, with midfielder Thomas McNamara curling a superb right foot shot into the top corner to make it 1-0.
Romanian international Razvan Cocis equalized for Chicago in the 19th minute, springing the New York offside trap with ease before coolly finishing past City goalkeeper Josh Saunders. City responded swiftly, however, with goals from Tony Taylor and United States youth international Khiry Shelton putting the visitors 3-1 ahead.
Nigerian midfielder Kennedy Igboananike clawed a goal back for Chicago after the break but US international Mix Diskerud’s sweetly struck 63rd minute volley restored City’s two-goal cushion before Accam’s late penalty for Fire.