clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Put a ring on it: LAFC 3, Portland Timbers 2

The kings of LA got their rings, then opened up their title defense with a big win at home

Portland Timbers v Los Angeles Football Club Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

As ominous as the clouds looked, and as much as they appeared to want to open up, the skies stayed relatively clear for LAFC and their 2023 season home-opener. It was a special match day, not just because it was the first one of the season, but because the team were set to receive their MLS Cup Championship rings ahead of the match.

After six long years of fighting for this very moment, LAFC and the 3252 were going to enjoy it one last time. The video board played a nice highlight package of the MLS Final match, and the fans erupted, one more time, as the winning goal crossed the line, securing the team’s first-ever MLS Cup. The basked in their glory, as they displayed their second Supporter’s Shield, the Western Conference trophy and the MLS Cup, for all to see as the players took the pitch.

Courtesy of LAFC

After all the festivities, flares, and excitement, it was time to get to work on their first-ever title defense season. As many would expect, the first 20 minutes of the match consisted of both sides just trying to find their legs. LAFC had been knocking on the door, but couldn't take full advantage of their opportunities. That was until the 25th minute when Giorgio Chiellini found himself at the right place at the best time for his first-ever goal in the black-and-gold. The defender tapped in a ball that had been bouncing dangerously around the box, giving his side the lead.

It didn't take long for LAFC to double their lead. Mahala Opoku made the most of his first start early on, drawing the penalty after getting taken down in the box in the 30th minute. Stepping up to the spot for his first penalty of the new season, was none other than El Rey himself, Carlos Vela. The captain did what he does best, put it in the back of the net calmly, and with precision.

The team was able to take that momentum, and the two goal lead, into the halftime break. While Portland looked to come out firing the second half, LAFC looked to continue the second-half dominance they enjoyed most of last season, trying to close out their opener with the three points at home.

After drawing a penalty to help double the lead for his side in the first half, Mahala Opoku decided he wanted more in his first match as a full-time starter. In the 51st minute he was on the end of some sublime team passing from the hosts, and when it came to his feet, he slammed it home with ease. It was the first, of what should be many goals this season, from LAFC’s newest rising star.

It took most of the match, but the Timbers finally found themselves on the board in the 61st minute. Catching LAFC out on the counter, the visitors executed some nice passing down the pitch, ending with Evander putting it in the back of the net from distance. The goal cut the deficit to two goals for Portland, as they looked to make it a match again.

Portland’s goal came after a tactical shift in formation that left LAFC guessing a bit. After making some changes of their own, it seemed like LAFC would see out the win comfortably, but Timbers would not go away. In the 83rd minute, Paredes got just enough on a ball that was bouncing around the box, and cut the deficit down to just one goal with plenty of time left. Despite the late push from Portland, LAFC were able to calm themselves and see out the win, albeit nervously.

The team goes from offseason, right into the fire, with their next match just five days away. The team will hit the road for leg 1 of the CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16, against L.D. Alajuelense. After reaching and losing the Champions League Final two years ago, LAFC will be looking to do even more this time around.

What do you think of today’s win? Thoughts on the championship ring? Leave a comment below!