Ladies and gentlemen, the time has arrived. We’ve survived the final weekend without Major League Soccer action for, well, quite a long time. Season 18 kicks off on Saturday, March 2, and we’re here to get you ready for it.
For starters, the Week One schedule shakes down as follows:
Saturday, March 2 (Home Clubs on Left … All Times ET)
Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City – 4 p.m.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Toronto FC – 6:30 p.m. (RDS2 | TSN)
Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United – 8 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)
FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids – 8:30 p.m.
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Montreal Impact – 10 p.m.
Chivas USA vs. Columbus Crew – 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 3 (Home Clubs on Left … All Times ET)
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire – 5 p.m. (Univision)
Portland Timbers vs. New York Red Bulls – 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake – 10 p.m.
*All matches not accompanied with television information are available via MLS Live. Subscription info here.
Must-See Matches of the Week:
Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United – The home opener at BBVA Compass Stadium is sure to be a good one, as it pits two 2012 playoff clubs against one another on national television. Houston, a back-to-back Eastern Conference champion, posted an outrageous W-D-L record of 11-6-0 at home last season. Last season these two clubs played five very exciting matches, scoring a combined 16 goals in them.
Portland Timbers vs. New York Red Bulls – This one is on the deuce, so there’s no reason to miss it. Portland has undergone a number of significant changes in the offseason, starting right at the top with new head coach Caleb Porter, formerly of the United States U-23 National Team and the very successful Akron Zips men’s soccer program. The club has showed flashes of great potential during the preseason and with the raucous Timbers Army behind it, could pull off an emotional quasi-upset of New York on the second day of the season.
The Wild Card:
Chivas USA vs. Columbus Crew – This is somewhat of a fascinating matchup, in my mind. It’s not a must-watch match, by any stretch of the imagination, largely because the last two meetings between the clubs have yielded a total of one goal, but this one is particularly interesting because of the wholesale changes made by the two organizations from the end of the 2012 season to the outset of the 2013 campaign. Columbus has made TWENTY-ONE changes (nine in, 12 out) to its roster while the Goats have made 19 (seven in, 12 out). Who’s going to suit up and how is this one going to play out on Saturday? Your guess is as good as mine.