The MLS Gamethreads are back. For those of you new to the feature, let me give you a quick primer. We will list the National TV games and any available streaming options, three big storylines heading into the MLS weekend and, since this is at heart a Sounders site, we will give you the Sounders point of view on the overall MLS weekend. This is your MLS Weekend Open Gamethread.
Three Big Storylines:
- Orlando City host NYCFC in the MLS franchise opener for both teams. Orlando City have their own soccer-specific stadium opening in 2016, so in their inaugural MLS season they will be playing in the Citrus Bowl. For the opener they have sold 62,000 tickets including 2,000 standing room only tickets that were added this week and quickly sold out. It should be quite the spectacle. Orlando City features Kaká while NYCFC will be led out by David Villa. Both World Cup winners have been chosen as Captains of their new teams.
- Saturday sees six matches all on MLS Live and headlined by the big Canadian rivalry of Toronto visiting Vancouver and a very good Western Conference match featuring Dallas hosting San Jose. The Earthquakes will be the next team to open a Soccer Specific Stadium on March 22 when they host Chicago.
- The new TV contract debuts this weekend. Going forward there will be no more hunting for your national TV MLS games. Friday will be on the Univision family of networks, first up is Unimas, while Sunday will have ESPN2 at 2 PM Pacific Time followed by Fox Sports 1 at 4 PM with the occasional Fox Sports double header following up at 6:30 PM like this weekend. This is the schedule every week.
Sounders Point of View:
From a Sounders point of view, FC Dallas hosting San Jose will be interesting. Dallas has been picked by a lot of people (your author included) as the team in the Western Conference with the best chance to be a big player for the #1 seed alongside the Sounders and Galaxy. And at 7 PM next Saturday the Earthquakes will be at CenturyLink Field taking on your Sounders the week before they open their new stadium.
Following Dallas v San Jose at 5:30 is Real Salt Lake at Portland at 7:30. Both Western Conference rivals start 2015 with question marks. Portland was everyone's darling heading into 2014 and Caleb Porter was being hailed as a coaching savant. How things can change in a year. The Timbers go into 2015 already beset by a rash of injuries, with Diego Valeri, Will Johnson and Ben Zemanski all out for extended periods and Diego Chara questionable for the opener while RSL lost a big free agent to the Seattle Sounders and look to move on from the Kreis and Lagerwey era.
National TV Listings:
Chicago Fire at LA Galaxy
Friday, 7 PM, UniMas
*note, UniMas will carry the game in both Spanish and English. Use the SAP button on your remote for English. For instructions on how to use the SAP button, see this video. http://www.mlssoccer.com/sap
New York City FC at Orlando City SC
Sunday, 2 PM, ESPN2
New York Red Bulls at Sporting KC
Sunday 4 PM, Fox Sports 1