Throughout the MLS season, I'm going to be adding a new, league-wide update with a quick notebook of major stories from the past weekend and beyond. This is an Orlando City website, but every Wednesday, we're widening our view to the whole of the league.
Charlotte Sets MLS Single-Game Attendance Record in Season Opener
There's nothing like a good first home game in franchise history. We recently celebrated the seventh anniversary of the inaugural match in Orlando City's MLS history, a game where over 60,000 people "filled the bowl," and in the years since, the other southeastern expansion clubs have grown on that early success.
Charlotte FC, the newest MLS expansion team, played its first ever home match in Bank of America Stadium against the LA Galaxy and drew in a league-record 74,479 fans. It was one of the most incredible atmospheres for a soccer game in America you will ever see, and created a palpable buzz for Charlotte.
The game itself wasn't terrible, but it definitely favored the road side. The Galaxy won 1-0, thanks to a wonderful effort from Efrain Alvarez, but it could've been worse. Charlotte do have some real ideas on how to play, though, and manager Miguel Angel Ramirez is a phenomenal head coach. If they can bring in some difference makers, perhaps a Polish international winger for starters, Charlotte could have something special.
Seattle Dominate Club Leon, 3-0, in Concacaf Champions League
This has been a special season in CCL for MLS clubs already. Two weeks after CF Montreal thrashed Santos Laguna to advance to the quarterfinals, the Seattle Sounders crushed Club Leon to take a 3-0 advantage into the second leg in Guanajuato. The Sounders ceded most of the possession to Leon, but outshot the visitors 14-3 and won the expected goals battle 3.2-0.13. If it wasn't for the wonderful play of goalkeeper Rodolfo Cota, it could've been even worse.
We've never seen MLS teams dominate Liga MX teams like this. Montreal's drubbing of Santos makes some sense, as Santos had fallen off a cliff and were dead last in Liga MX, but Leon came into this game in great form and are fifth in Liga MX. The Sounders, by contrast, lost their first two MLS games and looked lethargic in doing so. It's way too early and not a great format to make any sweeping conclusions about the quality of play between the two leagues, but it's awesome to see MLS teams take it to Liga MX sides.
On Tuesday, New York City FC also won in CCL, winning 3-1 against Guatemalan side Comunicaciones at "home." Wednesday night, there's two more CCL matches, both between MLS and Liga MX competition. The New England Revolution face Pumas, and CF Montreal travel to Mexico City to face Cruz Azul.
Austin FC, New York Red Bulls Dominating Early Season Schedule
On the domestic front, two teams have taken full advantage of favorable early season fixtures and have announced themselves on the national scene. In the west, second-year club Austin FC made a huge splash, scoring five goals in back to back games and setting a league record for goals in the first two weeks of a season. In the east, the New York Red Bulls have been even Red Bull-ier than ever, with a pair of dominant victories, most recently against Toronto FC.
Neither team has played great competition, with the Verde and Black hosting FC Cincinnati and Inter Miami, probably the two worst teams in the league, while RBNY played San Jose, who's coach seemingly has one foot already out the door, and a patchwork Toronto team that played multiple homegrowns, including a pair of fullbacks who are converted wingers.
With that being said, the performances from both Austin and New York are hard to ignore. Sebastian Driussi of Austin looks like a genuine MVP type of player, while the Red Bulls are getting elite production from Lewis Morgan, who scored a hat-trick against Toronto, and Patryk Klimala, who had a hat-trick of assists. These are definitely teams to watch over the next few weeks.