Defending champs LA Galaxy launch MLS season with win
The Los Angeles Galaxy launched their quest to defend their Major League Soccer title with a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Friday.
The Galaxy controlled the majority of the first regular-season match, but didn`t break through for a goal until Jose Villarreal`s 65th-minute strike.
Reigning MLS Most Valuable Player Robbie Keane ensured the win with a goal nine minutes from time.
Villarreal slotted the ball inside the left post after Chicago midfielder Jeff Larentowicz`s clearance ricocheted off a team-mate.
Keane found the back of the net in the 81st.
Omar Gonzalez chipped the ball into the box to find Baggio Husidic, who nodded the delivery to the center of the penalty area. Keane pounced on the loose ball and unleashed a shot.
For the Galaxy, the match marked the start of their post-Landon Donovan era.
Donovan, the all-time leading scorer for both the United States and in Major League Soccer, retired following the MLS Cup victory three months ago over New England.
He was spotted on the Galaxy bench before the match and watched the game from a suite.
For fans, it was a relief just to see the season get underway on schedule.
It wasn`t until Wednesday night that Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union reached agreement on a new five-year collective bargaining agreement that averted what would have been the first players` strike in the league`s history.
The new deal, which boosts salaries and introduces limited free agency, paves the way for what promises to be a celebratory 20th season for the North American league.
The first weekend of action will be highlighted by the clash of two new expansion teams as Orlando hosts New York City FC on Sunday in the Citrus Bowl stadium.