No one said it was going to be easy.
Minnesota United and Atlanta United are both in their maiden MLS campaigns this year, with the former taking centre stage last night against 2015 MLS Champions Portland Timbers.
However it was to be a tough first night for Adrian Heath’s side, who for all their possession, crashed to a 5-1 defeat at Providence Park.
Lawrence Olum scored the first goal of the 2017 MLS season before braces from midfielder Diego Valeri and striker Fanendo Adi made the scoreline convincing. Christian Ramirez netted Minnesota’s first ever goal in America’s top division, but it would turn out to be just a consolation.
Minnesota were very much in the game for 80 minutes, until three quick-fire goals sunk the hearts of the travelling fans.
Adi, whose two goals came in stoppage time at the end of the second half to kill off any Minnesota fightback, told Portland after the game: “I knew I was always going to score.
“I have been working hard in training and I feel confident in front of goal.
“It’s an amazing result. They are an excellent new team and we are very happy to come out with the victory.”
Defender Olum added: “To win the way we won in front of the home crowd is an incredible feeling.
Timbers head coach Caleb Porter believed the score did not justify the performance of Minnesota.
“They are a good side (Minnesota). They will beat teams this year,” he admitted.
“The way we managed to control those last 10 minutes after conceding shows that this group can be scary going forward when they want to be.
“The back four did well to manage their counter-attacking style so overall it was a good game from us.”
Heath, who used to play for Everton, told Minnesota after the game: “When I look at our long periods of possession, that gives me a little bit of optimism as well, that we can actually keep the ball with the players we’ve got on the team.
“Their goals were at really crucial times, every time we felt we were just creeping back into the game then, we had another one against us.
“I thought we started a little apprehensive but we grew into the game in the first half. Second half, I thought we started to impose ourselves a little bit. Somebody just said we had the most possession this evening, which surprised me, but I thought we were in the game.
“We played against a really good team, but at the 82nd minute, it’s still 2-1 and we’re looking more likely at that stage. To finish the game with 5 goals against is a little bit of a poor reflection of the evening.”