History of MLS expansion clubs' first-season head-to-head meetings
As a young and ever-expanding league, Major League Soccer is no stranger to firsts. And there will be another one on Sunday, when expansion Minnesota United host Atlanta United (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN).
The match marks the fifth time in league history that expansion "cousins" played each other in their first seasons in the league. We look back at the previous four encounters.
The Fusion hosted the Fire at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as the two teams made their MLS bows. Roman Kosecki and Ritchie Kotschau goals helped Chicago to victory. The Fire went on to win MLS Cup in 1998 -- the only one in the club's history -- under manager Bob Bradley. While the Fire are still around, the Fusion's MLS existence was fairly short-lived. The league contracted in 2002, and both Miami and the Tampa Bay Mutiny were casualties of the move that saw the league shrink from 12 to 10 teams.
Chivas USA 1-0 Real Salt Lake -- May 7, 2005
It was seven years before a pair of expansion teams went head-to-head again, with Hector Cuadros scoring the only goal of the match from the penalty spot as Chivas USA beat fellow league newcomers Real Salt Lake 1-0 at StubHub Center in Carson, California. U.S. international Brad Guzan featured in goal and kept a clean sheet for Chivas USA that night. While the Salt Lake-based club can still count itself among the 22 teams in Major League Soccer, the Chivas USA experiment only lasted 10 years, with the club suspending operations near the end of the 2014 season.
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Portland Timbers 2-1 Vancouver Whitecaps -- Aug. 20, 2011
Two clubs that are still very much alive and well met in their maiden MLS seasons in the summer of 2011. Portland knocked off its Cascadia Cup rivals 2-1 thanks to a goal and an assist from Jorge Perlaza, who scored the opener for the Timbers and then set up fellow Colombian Diego Chara for his first-ever MLS goal.
Portland had a down year in 2016 after hoisting MLS Cup in 2015, but rebounded in its season opener by pasting expansion Minnesota United 5-1. The Whitecaps are off to a strong start in 2017 as well, with its young, talented team -- led by Kekuta Manneh and 16-year-old Alphonso Davies -- beating the New York Red Bulls to reach the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Orlando City 1-1 New York City FC -- March 8, 2015
Now entering their third year, this pair of expansion clubs played each other in their first-ever MLS matches. Orlando's high-profile signing Kaka scored from an injury-time free kick to earn his team a point in front of an announced crowd of 62,510 at Citrus Bowl Stadium. David Villa had set up Mix Diskerud for the visitors' opener before the former AC Milan and Real Madrid star leveled matters. Three years later, Orlando hosted NYCFC again, this time in a brand-new downtown stadium, and rode a Cyle Larin goal to an opening weekend win thanks in part to some heroics in goal from Joe Bendik.
Orlando is still seeking its first postseason appearance in MLS, while NYCFC rode a strong 2016 regular season to the playoffs only to be thrashed by eventual MLS Cup finalists Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
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