Author’s note: MLS is back and so am I. I took over doing this feature on Sounder at Heart in the summer of 2014 and for the most part we use mostly the same format then as now. For those new here, we will have Three Big Storylines where I highlight the things that stand out to me in MLS. With the league expanding to 47 teams (It’s actually 26) this year it is getting harder and harder to keep track of the big picture. That’s what this space is for. Next we have From a Sounders point of view. This is pretty simple, what’s going on around the league that affects the Sounders? As the season progresses this space will look more and more at the table and playoff seeding. Early in the season it mostly highlights upcoming opponents or maybe an international game or tournament involving Sounders players. The third regular feature is the national TV schedule for the weekend as those are games most likely for all of us to watch together.
Lastly, if you are a longtime reader of this column you will know that your author moved to Amsterdam in the summer of 2018 with a just turned 1-year-old baby and a wife. We are still here but the baby is now a toddler. Any Ajax- or Amsterdam-related travel questions can be asked to me in the comment section or on twitter (https://twitter.com/C_Tobin) where I’m probably too active for my own good.
Enjoy MLS’s 25th season, here we go:
Three big storylines
- MLS is back! It’s the 25th year for the league. As a long time watcher, let’s just say there were some lean years in the early 2000’s where I wasn’t sure if MLS would be a viable long-term concern. Well those worries are behind us and this year both Inter Miami CF (aka Beckham’s team) and Nashville SC join MLS bringing the number of teams up to 26. Nashville will begin playing in MLS on Saturday by hosting Atlanta United in their temporary home of Nissan Stadium (home of the NFL’s Titans) as they expect to open their own soccer-specific stadium in 2022. Miami open their MLS careers at LAFC on Sunday. Both games are part of the five matches on national TV this weekend, see below for details.
- Well it finally happened. What’s that you ask? Beckham finally got his team? Well yes, but that’s not what is going in point 2 here. Javier “Chicharito” Hernández has finally joined MLS. The rumors of him joining MLS started long before the Zlatan Ibrahimovic rumors and Zlatan signed with the LA Galaxy, played two years, made the playoffs once and even won a playoff game in the interim before moving on to Milan this offseason. But now he’s here and, like Zlatan, also with the LA Galaxy. The Galaxy will hope to have more success with this superstar than their last one. They open the season at the Houston Dynamo on Saturday (TV listings below).
- Sunday sees a National TV tripleheader from the MLS schedule makers. The opening game is the Seattle Sounders hosting the Chicago Fire (this is not the gamethread for that) followed by LAFC hosting Inter Miami CF and ending with the Portland Timbers hosting Minnesota United. LAFC come into their match with some momentum having beat Club Leon 3-0 at home on Thursday to overturn a 2-0 away loss in Concacaf Champions League while Miami will be playing their first competitive game, ever. The last game of the weekend sees two Western Conference foes that battled around and above the red line in 2019 for playoff positioning renew their rivalry as the Portland Timbers sporting new Designated Player Yimmi Chara, brother of Diego Chara, take on Minnesota United who have reworked their attack but return their entire defensive unit led by Defensive Player of the Year Ike Opara and Osvaldo Alonso in Portland.
From a Sounders point of view
Well it’s not often that in the opening game of the season a team will be looking to bounce back from a loss. But that is where we find ourselves after Thursday’s Concacaf Champions League exit.
The Sounders next three opponents after Sunday’s opener and before the end of March FIFA international break are in order: home for the Columbus Crew, at Houston and home to FC Dallas. It is probably worth keeping an eye on their home openers as well to get a sense of what is upcoming.
National TV listings
Date/Time: Saturday, 12:30 PM PT
Streaming: Twitter will again be streaming the Univision network game each week.
Nashville SC v Atlanta United
Date/Time: Saturday, 5:00 PM PT
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Seattle Sounders FC v Chicago Fire FC
Date/Time: Sunday, Noon
Streaming: Watch ESPN
LAFC v Inter Miami CF
Date/Time: Sunday, 2:30 PM PT
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Portland Timbers v Minnesota United FC
Date/Time: Saturday, 4:300 PM PT
TV: Fox Sports 1
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
Join the Discussion
This is your Sounder at Heart MLS Week 1, the opening weekend of the regular season, gamethread. Watch with us.