Charlotte FC will play its first-ever home game on March 5 against LA Galaxy at Bank of Americas Stadium. In looking back at the results of the 10 inaugural home match games of the last decade, one may see a pattern that generally favors the new franchise…  

Austin FC (2021)

Result: Draw

Austin FC played its first eight matches on the road, before debuting at the brand-new Q2 Stadium on June 19 against the San Jose Earthquakes. That match ended in a 0-0 draw, with the team’s first-ever home victory coming on its third attempt: an emphatic 4-1 win over the Portland Timbers in front of 20,700 fans in Austin.

Inter Miami (2020)
Result: Win

After playing their first two games on the road, Inter Miami were planning to christen DRV PNK Stadium with a home opener against the LA Galaxy on March 14, 2020. However, Major League Soccer was suspended after just two match days due to the pandemic, pushing that first home game all the way back to August of 2020.

No fans were in attendance, but the game proved to be special for the Miami faithful: not only did it result in a 3-2 win over state rivals Orlando City, but it represented the franchise’s first-ever win, too. 

Nashville SC (2020)

Result: Loss

The pandemic also truncated Nashville’s inaugural season, but they did manage to play their first-ever match at home, in the confines of Nissan Stadium. USMNT defender Walker Zimmerman scored the franchise’s first-ever goal that night, but the points went to visitors Atlanta Utd, who secured a 2-1 win. 

Nashville were forced to wait until August 30 for their second home match, but they marked the occasion with a 1-0 win over fellow season debutants Inter Miami

FC Cincinnati (2019)

Result: Win

The other Queen City played two road games before staging its inaugural home match at the University of Ohio’s Nippert Stadium. Cincinnati managed an impressive 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers, however, it was only one of three home wins in a disappointing inaugural season. 

Cincy opened its current home, TQL Stadium, at the start of the 2021 campaign, but were defeated 3-2 by Inter Miami on that occasion, courtesy of a late Gonzalo Higuain winner. 

LAFC (2018)
Result: Win

Los Angeles FC, who have now parted company with inaugural coach Bob Bradley, had a tough matchup in their first-ever game at CenturyLink Field, where they made their mark with a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders

After playing its first six matches on the road, LAFC made their home debut at Banc of California Stadium on April 29, 2018. Once again, the opposition was Seattle, and once again the Californian newbies prevailed by a 1-0 scoreline.

Atlanta Utd (2017)
Result: Loss

Atlanta Utd was a success story from the outset, reaching the playoffs in the debut campaign and winning MLS Cup in their sophomore campaign.

However, they lost their first-ever MLS game, in which they hosted the New York Red Bulls at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium.

In their second home match, Atlanta made up for their initial defeat with a rousing 4-0 win over the Chicago Fire.

Minnesota Utd (2017)
Result: Loss

After suffering a 5–1 defeat to the Portland Timbers at Providence Park in its first-ever match—a record loss for a new franchise in its opening game—Minnesota hosted Atlanta United in its inaugural home game. 

The Minnesotan fans braved the elements that day, as a snowstorm brought a record-low MLS kickoff temperature (a brisk 19F), and saw their new team fall 6-1 to fellow 2017 debutants Atlanta Utd.

Minnesota booked their first home win in game week five, with a 4-2 win over Real Salt Lake.

Orlando City FC (2015)

Result: Draw

After four seasons at USL level, Orlando City made its MLS debut in 2015. In its first-ever MLS game, the Florida side hosted New York City FC, who were also a brand-new franchise that season (more on them shortly). 

NYCFC had a 1-0 lead going into second-half stoppage time, but Orlando’s star Designated Player Kaka rescued a point for the hosts in the 91st minute with a dramatic free kick. Over 62,000 fans attended the game at the Orlando Citrus Bowl stadium—and they certainly made their voices heard when Kaka scored their first franchise goal.

New York City FC (2015)
Result: Win

As previously noted, New York’ second MLS franchise began play in 2015, and kicked off life in North America’s top division in Orlando. The following week, Jason Kreis’ side hosted their inaugural home game at Yankee Stadium, in front of over 43,000 fans. Most left the Bronx happy that day, as goals from DP David Villa and MLS journeyman Patrick Mullins secured a 2-0 win over the New England Revolution 

Montreal Impact (2012)
Result: Draw

The Montreal Impact—who rebranded as CF Montreal this season—started life in MLS with a road game against the Vancouver Whitecaps, which they lost 2-0. In their inaugural home game, at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium in front of nearly 59,000 fans, the Quebec side earned a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire. The Impact booked their first home win in the following home game, against fellow Canucks Toronto FC. 

Conclusion

Of the 10 new franchises that debuted in the last decade, only three lost their inaugural home game. Three of the last five inaugural home matches have resulted in three points for the hosts, with Nashville being the only one of the last five expansion teams to fail to put points on the board. Therefore, it might be suggested that MLS inaugural home openers are showing a general pattern of favoring the hosts.

LET'S MAKE HISTORY

LET'S MAKE HISTORY

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