The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) opened the 2023 MLS season with a 3-2 home victory over the Portland Timbers on Saturday afternoon at BMO Stadium. Giorgio Chiellini and Carlos Vela scored first half goals for LAFC before Mahala Opoku added a third early in the second half. Portland pulled a pair of goals back in the last 30 minutes, but it was not enough as LAFC was able to claim the victory in front of a capacity crowd of 22,202.
Highlights | LAFC 3-2 Portland Timbers 3/4/23
- With the win, LAFC is now 1-0-0 on the season for three points.
- LAFC are one of six Western Conference teams to win their season opener in 2023.
- The club is now 6-0-0 all-time in season openers and 6-0-0 in home openers. This was the fifth consecutive season in which LAFC opened the regular season at home. The only time that LAFC did not open the season at home was in 2018 when they opened the season with a 1-0 win in Seattle before beating the Sounders again by the same score nearly two months later.
- In those six season openers, LAFC has scored 12 times while conceding just three goals.
- Giorgio Chiellini opened the scoring in the 24th minute. That was his first goal in MLS after having signed with the club last summer.
- At the age of 38 years and 202 days, he is the fifth oldest player in MLS history to score a goal, and the oldest to score his first goal in the league.
- With his first half penalty kick goal, Carlos Vela has now scored in three of LAFC’s last four season openers. He scored the only goal of the game in the 1-0 win over Inter Miami to open the 2020 season and then tallied a hat trick in last season’s 3-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids.
- Vela has now converted 18 of his 22 penalty kicks since joining the club.
- Mahala Opoku tallied the eventual game-winning goal in the 52nd minute to give LAFC a 3-0 lead. That was his 10th goal in all competitions for LAFC. He has scored eight regular season goals as well as one in the MLS Cup Playoffs and one in the Concacaf Champions League.
- Opoku has now contributed to a goal in two of LAFC’s last three season openers, having assisted on a goal in the 2021 opener against Austin FC.
- Vela and Dennis Bouanga were each credited with assists on the goal. For Bouanga, it was the first assist of his MLS career, while Vela now has a club record 48 assists, including at least one in each of his six seasons with LAFC.
- LAFC has now scored three goals in each of its last two season openers.
- MLS Cup MVP John McCarthy started his first-ever home game for LAFC and his second game since joining the club ahead of the start of the 2022 season. He made three saves and was credited with his first win.
- All 11 players that started the game for LAFC were with the club last season, with 10 of them playing in MLS Cup.
- In the second half, Stipe Biuk, Aaron Long and Timothy Tillman all came on to make their LAFC debuts.
LAFC will be back in action on Thursday, March 9 when the club travels to Costa Rica for the first leg of its Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 series against Alajuelense. The club returns to MLS action on Sunday, March 12 when it hosts the New England Revolution.