Thierry Henry’s Major League Soccer managerial career got off to a winning start as Montreal Impact came from behind to defeat New England Revolution 2-1 in their season-opener on Saturday.
A superb lobbed 80th-minute finish from Argentinian striker Maxi Urruti secured all three points for the Impact, who appointed former France and Arsenal star Henry as manager in November.
Urruti’s winner, lifting the ball over New England goalkeeper Matt Turner from the edge of the area, came just moments after Revs substitute Wilfried Zahibo had a goal chalked off for offside after a video review.
Earlier Teal Bunbury had fired New England into the lead at the Olympic Stadium with a 13th-minute volley after a well-worked move from a corner.
Romell Quioto headed Montreal level in the 37th minute, nodding home Joel Waterman’s flick-on from a corner to make it 1-1.
Zahibo looked to have shot New England into the lead in the 73rd minute after bundling home a free kick from close range but the goal was later ruled out for a marginal offside.
Instead it was left to former Portland Timbers forward Urruti to clinch victory for Montreal, latching on to a long ball over the top to lob Turner as the New England goalkeeper advanced off his line.
“This is not perfect yet, far from it. Few teams reach that,” said Henry, who nevertheless said his side had made advances since getting past Costa Rica’s deportivo Saprissa in the CONCACAF Champions League.
“Many times (in the CCL games) we refused to play forward when we got the ball back to not fall into a counterattack or a one-on-one,” Henry said. “Today we did that.
“We tried to repeat that and then set up in their zone and get them to move from left to right to free up our fullback or our forwards in the middle.
“There were moments where we could’ve done more, but massively better on that front than what we did against Saprissa.”
– Chicharito held in debut –
Elsewhere on Saturday, Mexico international striker Javier Hernandez was unable to mark his MLS debut with a goal as the Los Angeles Galaxy were held to a 1-1 draw at Houston Dynamo.
Argentinian forward Cristian Pavon fired the Galaxy into an early lead with a superb shot from the edge of the area after 13 minutes.
But Houston fought back to level through Colombian striker Mauro Manotas shortly after half-time.
Hernandez, Mexico’s all-time leading goal-scorer, was brought in from Sevilla by a Galaxy side eager to replace the star-power and scoring void left by the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“Always the first game in the season is a little bit like a hangover of the preseason,” said Hernandez, who had no doubt the hangover would clear.
“It’s not how you start but how you end,” he said. “I’m quite confident things will improve.”
Nashville SC’s inaugural MLS campaign opened with a 2-1 loss to Atlanta United.
A Tennessee state record for a football match of 59,069 spectators turned out for the expansion club’s first contest, but Ezequiel Barco and Emerson Hyndman spoiled the party.
Walker Zimmerman scored the first goal in Nashville’s MLS history in the 28th minute, pulling the hosts level after Barco’s ninth-minute opener, but Hyndman’s 37th-minute blast was the decider.
Nashville aren’t the only team making their MLS debut this season.
David Beckham’s quest to launch an MLS club will finally come to fruition on Sunday when his Inter Miami make their competitive debut against Los Angeles FC.