The MLS Team of the Week: Matchday 1

The MLS Team of the Week: Matchday 1

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Each game week, you’ll find the FotMob TOTW posted in this column, along with the thoughts of James Nalton, one of our MLS experts.

James selects two standout performances, based on his votes in the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) player of the week awards, and discusses them here.


By James Nalton


A new season of Major League Soccer began in earnest this weekend following the opening game between Inter Miami and Real Salt Lake last week.

That curtain raiser meant Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami played twice in this Matchday and the second game, against LA Galaxy, saw an outstanding performance by one Miami player in particular.

But first, let me tell you who my votes went to this week.

The Top Two

9.8 FotMob rating: Christian Benteke – DC United

As mentioned in the FotMob 2024 MLS preview, if DC United can build around Benteke’s goals by making sure the rest of the team does its job, then they could be in playoff contention for the first time in five years.

The Belgian striker was second in MLS for total xG last season, so is certainly a standout player in this league.

Against New England Revolution this weekend, he showed why his chance-getting numbers were so high last year by being in the right place at the right time to score a hat-trick in a 3-1 win.

Each of his three goals was scored from inside the six-yard box. He could have had an assist, too, but Jared Stroud missed a great chance following Benteke’s header back across the box.

DC were helped by an early red card for New England’s Giacomo Vrioni following two avoidable bookings, so it will be interesting to see if they can replicate this going forward.

Benteke’s play suggests he will continue to get into goalscoring positions regardless of the situation.

9.2 FotMob rating: Antony – Portland Timbers

The Timbers kicked off the Phil Neville era with a 4-1 win against Colorado Rapids.

It was an important first victory for the new head coach who arrived following a difficult spell with pre-Messi Inter Miami.

The star of the game was Portland’s 22-year-old winger Antony whom they signed last year from Portuguese Primera Liga side Arouca.

The Brazilian scored twice from two shots on goal, one from a header and another right-footed after having a bit of work to do to make space for the shot. The own goal from the Rapids’ Sam Vines came from an Antony cross, too, and he also completed 11 defensive actions.

Three more big performances

8.9 FotMob rating: Asier Illarramendi – FC Dallas

Illaramendi built on a wonderfully taken goal to put in one of the best performances of the weekend.

FC Dallas needed a late Dante Sealy goal to secure a 2-1 win against San Jose Earthquakes, but the Spanish midfielder was the deserved Man of the Match. His goal included an impressive first touch with the right boot and a second with the left to fire it home.

Illarramendi also finished the game with a pass success of 89%, made 13 passes into the final third, and 14 recoveries.

8.7 FotMob rating: Brian Gutiérrez – Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire earned an encouraging opening weekend draw at Philadelphia Union as a game that many will have had down as a home banker pre-match finished 2-2.

The Union are generally one of the more solid defences in MLS, but Gutiérrez wasn’t standing on ceremony as he dribbled inside from the left wing, finishing with power from just outside the area.

Then, in the second half, working in a more central area he created another opportunity for his side, eventually seeing the ball fall his way inside the area where he laid it off for Fabian Herbers to score.

It was a great start to the season for the 20-year-old and a promising one for the Fire.

8.7 FotMob rating: Drake Callender – Inter Miami

Lionel Messi may have scored Miami’s late equaliser against LA Galaxy, but if it wasn’t for the saves of Callender at the other end, Miami wouldn’t have been in a position to take anything from a game which finished 1-1.

The American goalkeeper saved a penalty from Riqui Puig which had an on-target xG of a whole 1.

It was an outstanding save with an outstretched left hand as the ball looked certain to nestle in the bottom corner. Instead, it deflected into the air following Callender’s save, making it look even more dramatic.

Additional saves from Joseph Paintsil, Puig again, and Martín Cáceres among others, kept Miami in the contest before Messi snatched a point for his side at the end.

FotMob TOTW


(Images from IMAGO)


You can follow every match from MLS live with FotMob — featuring deep stats coverage including shot maps, xG, and player ratings. Download the free app here.

The MLS Team of the Week: Matchday 1

Each game week, you’ll find the FotMob TOTW posted in this column, along with the thoughts of James Nalton, one of our MLS experts.

James selects two standout performances, based on his votes in the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) player of the week awards, and discusses them here.


By James Nalton


A new season of Major League Soccer began in earnest this weekend following the opening game between Inter Miami and Real Salt Lake last week.

That curtain raiser meant Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami played twice in this Matchday and the second game, against LA Galaxy, saw an outstanding performance by one Miami player in particular.

But first, let me tell you who my votes went to this week.

The Top Two

9.8 FotMob rating: Christian Benteke – DC United

As mentioned in the FotMob 2024 MLS preview, if DC United can build around Benteke’s goals by making sure the rest of the team does its job, then they could be in playoff contention for the first time in five years.

The Belgian striker was second in MLS for total xG last season, so is certainly a standout player in this league.

Against New England Revolution this weekend, he showed why his chance-getting numbers were so high last year by being in the right place at the right time to score a hat-trick in a 3-1 win.

Each of his three goals was scored from inside the six-yard box. He could have had an assist, too, but Jared Stroud missed a great chance following Benteke’s header back across the box.

DC were helped by an early red card for New England’s Giacomo Vrioni following two avoidable bookings, so it will be interesting to see if they can replicate this going forward.

Benteke’s play suggests he will continue to get into goalscoring positions regardless of the situation.

9.2 FotMob rating: Antony – Portland Timbers

The Timbers kicked off the Phil Neville era with a 4-1 win against Colorado Rapids.

It was an important first victory for the new head coach who arrived following a difficult spell with pre-Messi Inter Miami.

The star of the game was Portland’s 22-year-old winger Antony whom they signed last year from Portuguese Primera Liga side Arouca.

The Brazilian scored twice from two shots on goal, one from a header and another right-footed after having a bit of work to do to make space for the shot. The own goal from the Rapids’ Sam Vines came from an Antony cross, too, and he also completed 11 defensive actions.

Three more big performances

8.9 FotMob rating: Asier Illarramendi – FC Dallas

Illaramendi built on a wonderfully taken goal to put in one of the best performances of the weekend.

FC Dallas needed a late Dante Sealy goal to secure a 2-1 win against San Jose Earthquakes, but the Spanish midfielder was the deserved Man of the Match. His goal included an impressive first touch with the right boot and a second with the left to fire it home.

Illarramendi also finished the game with a pass success of 89%, made 13 passes into the final third, and 14 recoveries.

8.7 FotMob rating: Brian Gutiérrez – Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire earned an encouraging opening weekend draw at Philadelphia Union as a game that many will have had down as a home banker pre-match finished 2-2.

The Union are generally one of the more solid defences in MLS, but Gutiérrez wasn’t standing on ceremony as he dribbled inside from the left wing, finishing with power from just outside the area.

Then, in the second half, working in a more central area he created another opportunity for his side, eventually seeing the ball fall his way inside the area where he laid it off for Fabian Herbers to score.

It was a great start to the season for the 20-year-old and a promising one for the Fire.

8.7 FotMob rating: Drake Callender – Inter Miami

Lionel Messi may have scored Miami’s late equaliser against LA Galaxy, but if it wasn’t for the saves of Callender at the other end, Miami wouldn’t have been in a position to take anything from a game which finished 1-1.

The American goalkeeper saved a penalty from Riqui Puig which had an on-target xG of a whole 1.

It was an outstanding save with an outstretched left hand as the ball looked certain to nestle in the bottom corner. Instead, it deflected into the air following Callender’s save, making it look even more dramatic.

Additional saves from Joseph Paintsil, Puig again, and Martín Cáceres among others, kept Miami in the contest before Messi snatched a point for his side at the end.

FotMob TOTW


(Images from IMAGO)


You can follow every match from MLS live with FotMob — featuring deep stats coverage including shot maps, xG, and player ratings. Download the free app here.