The biggest news of the announcement of MLS Home Openers is that The First Kick game will be on Tuesday. It will now only be going up against the First Four of the NCAA tournament rather than the standard First Round (now called the Second Round).
And MLS is starting with a marquee match with 6 DPs on the field, the best US Player of the 90s (Kasey Keller) and the best US player of the first decade of the 21st Century (Landon Donovan). David Beckham and the LA Galaxy will be taking the short flight up the coast to play in MLS largest crowds. The other DPs are of course Blaise Nkufo, Fredy Montero, Alvaro Fernandez, and Juan Pablo Angel.
This gives Seattle a great opportunity to exorcise the demons from LA that haunted them in 2010.
With the Seattle Sounders being the national television draw that they are it is little surprise that they open on ESPN (not the Duece). It also isn't a surprise that the Sounders are the home opener opponent for New York Red Bulls the Saturday Immediately following.
MLS moves to having 10 matches during their First Kick week, with Cascadia North hosting Toronto FC to start. A great match for Canada to celebrate even if the Vancouver Whitecaps will only be in Empire Fields. Portland Timbers won't open until Thursday April 14th against the Chicago Fire. This is likely done to ensure that the rennovations at PGE are complete.
Sporting Kansas City also has a late home opener of June 9th. Maybe they should have named themselves Traveling KC.
Full schedule of openers as provided by the League after the break. How excited for you to be part of an ESPN game getting their full attention to start 2011?
Tuesday, March 15
Seattle Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Saturday, March 19
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Toronto FC, time TBD
D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.
New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 7:30 p.m.
FC Dallas vs. Chicago Fire, 8:30 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union, 8:30pm
Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers, 9 p.m.
Chivas USA vs. Sporting Kansas City, 10:30 p.m.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 20
LA Galaxy vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 26
Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City, 4 p.m.
Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls, 4 p.m.
Philadelphia Union vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 4 p.m.
Toronto FC vs. Portland Timbers, time TBD
New England Revolution vs. D.C. United, time TBD
Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy, 9 p.m.
Thursday, April 14
Portland Timbers vs. Chicago Fire, 11 p.m.
Thursday, June 9
Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire, time TBD
And here's the Sounders Press Release. Sigi specifically noting that the Sounders open against the regular season Conference winners (not an actual trophy).
Sounders FC to Host L.A. Galaxy in 2011 MLS First Kick
ESPN to Televise Opener; Seattle Visits New York on March 19
RENTON, Wash. - For an unprecedented third year in a row the Major League Soccer season will start in Seattle as the League announced today that Sounders FC will meet the L.A. Galaxy in First Kick 2011. The March 15 match on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field will be nationally televised by ESPN. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PT. MLS First Kick 2011 is presented by Dick's Sporting Goods.
Sounders FC will be starting its campaign against the team which eliminated the Rave Green from the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Galaxy, holders of the 2010 Supporters' Shield, won the Western Conference with the best record in MLS.
"We are honored to host the first match of the MLS season for the third year in a row," said Sounders FC owner Joe Roth. "It is a true tribute to the Sounders FC fans who have created a passionate and exciting atmosphere unlike any in the league."
Last season Sounders FC set a new League attendance record, averaging 36,173. Seattle has attracted 32 consecutive capacity crowds in MLS play.
Seattle is perfect on opening night. In its inaugural match in 2009 Sounders FC defeated the New York Red Bulls, 3-0. In First Kick 2010, it beat Philadelphia Union, 2-0.
The other 16 MLS teams begin play on March 19 and March 20. It was also announced that the New York Red Bulls will host Seattle in their home opener on March 19 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. First kick is 4:30 p.m. PT.
"Our team looks forward to playing the two division champions, Los Angeles and New York, in our first two games," said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. "It's a difficult task but we relish the opportunity."
MLS First Kick 2011 will also be carried by ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com. The complete MLS schedule will be released by early February 2011. Each of the 18 teams will play 34 games, facing each team home and away. Ten teams will qualify for the playoffs.
Sounders FC is currently accepting deposits for 2011 season tickets. To join, please visit SoundersFC.com or call 877-MLS-GOAL. Seattle's schedule will include matches with MLS newcomers Portland and Vancouver, plus an international friendly against a soon-to-be-announced opponent. Seattle had 32,000 season ticket holders in 2010.