The Winners and Losers of 2024 MLS Opening Weekend

With the first weekend of 2024 MLS action in our rear view, we take a look back at who came out of the gate the strongest, and who struggled to keep their balance. 

MLS opening weekend went by in a flash. The long-awaited return of the American top flight brought with it some surprises, disappointments, and of course, plenty of chaos.

Now that the dust has settled, let’s take a look back to recap the true winners and losers of the first weekend of MLS action.


Inter Miami 

MLS’ show pony was unsurprisingly the busiest club during the opening week. Inter Miami kicked things off at home for the first match of the 2024 MLS season against Real Salt Lake, before heading west to take on the LA Galaxy in the last match of opening weekend.

And despite being outplayed for much of its first two matches, Miami walked out of the week unscathed, with a win and draw against RSL and the Galaxy, respectively.

Multiple bad turnovers in its own third, sloppy play from Sergio Busquets, and a litany of fouls were balanced out by some heroic individual efforts, particularly from Jordi Alba, Lionel Messi, and goalkeeper Drake Callender.

Miami is going to have to be much better if it wants to hoist any hardware this season, but to come out with four points from two pretty poorly played matches is an auspicious start to a highly anticipated season.

The Stadiums 


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From a fan perspective, there’s nothing more vibe-killing than being in an empty stadium. Even when watching on TV, seeing a mass of unclaimed seats takes away from a match’s sense of importance.

It’s a good thing then, that crowds flocked to MLS stadiums for opening weekend. With a reported average attendance of 24,973, the league is off to a good start, especially considering that Atlanta and Seattle — who are perennially at the top of the league’s attendance charts — were on the road in week one.

My bold prediction for the year on last week’s Urban Pitch Podcast was that MLS would break into the top five league attendances in the world in 2024, and if it can average over 25,000, there’s a good chance that it will end up doing so.

Columbus Crew


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The reigning MLS Cup champs got to do their ring and banner ceremony at their home opener, which is already a win by itself. However, the Crew picked up right where it left off, defeating a solid Atlanta United squad 1-0 behind a goal from Lucho Acosta.

Repeats don’t happen often in MLS, but it’s clear Columbus has its eyes set on adding yet another star to its crest.

Christian Benteke 

It’s still incredibly early, but DC United’s Christian Benteke has put his, ahem, hat in the ring for the 2024 MLS Golden Boot award with a fantastic three-goal performance against the New England Revolution.

The designated player has a storied career with plenty of ups and downs, and his hot start is a good sign for a DC United side that needs all the help it can get to break out of a slump that’s spanned multiple seasons.


LA Galaxy

After yet another disappointing year in 2023, the Galaxy made a few big moves in the offseason, and judging by the club’s opening match, they paid off. The Galaxy looked dangerous, even lethal at times against Inter Miami, with Riqui Puig slicing through the midfield and distributing to newcomer Joseph Paintsil and newly promoted full-time No. 9 Dejan Joveljic almost at will.

Yet, LA came out of the match even with Miami, despite an xG score of 2.73 to Miami’s 0.93.

A missed penalty from Puig didn’t help, but the Galaxy had countless other opportunities that just couldn’t find the back of the net. A questionable second yellow card to Marky Delgado (more on that in a bit) in the 88th minute gave Miami a breath of life, which is all Messi and Alba needed.

It was a play we’ve seen so many times before. Alba almost preternaturally finding a cutting Messi, who calmly scored as if his heart rate never exceeded 60 beats per minute.

After an ambitious offseason, it wasn’t the start the Galaxy was looking for, but there were still flashes of a formidable club. If it can sharpen up its mistakes and missed opportunities, we could be in for a long-awaited return to form.

Colorado Rapids

Another club that made some big moves in the offseason, the Rapids looked to be all in on 2024 with the additions of Zack Steffen, Djordje Mihailovic, and Sam Vines — only to find themselves down 4-0 at halftime to Portland.

It’s a long season, and the new squad will have plenty of time to gel together, but following last year’s abysmal campaign, a 4-1 loss was not how the Rapids intended to turn things around in 2024.


mls strike

MLS officiating has long been a point of contention for the league, and never more so than now. The referee’s strike was not resolved by the start of the season, which led to replacement refs earning duties throughout the first set of 2024 MLS matches.

As you’d expect, things didn’t go quite smoothly. There were dubious calls across the slate of matches, perhaps none more glaring than in the Galaxy-Miami matchup.

At this point, it’s a terrible look for the league, which has made some tremendous strides in recent years, to have this conflict ongoing. The sooner this gets resolved, the better it is for everyone with an interest in MLS.

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