MLS Set to Kick Off 2021 Season with Optimism
The 2021 MLS Campaign is set to kick off with optimism and innovation as the main themes of the upcoming season. In recent weeks, MLS released the official schedule that consists of 34 matches for each club. The news came along with a flurry of MLS announcements that included the launch of a new website and initiatives to combat social justice issues.
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MLS NEWS: Major League Soccer (MLS) is gearing up for the 2021 campaign set to kick off on Friday, April 16. Opening weekend will consist of five nationally televised matches across the ABC, FOX, and Univision networks in the U.S., as well as matches on CTV, TSN, TVA and TVA Sports in Canada.
All 27 MLS clubs will compete in 34 regular season matches, 17 home and 17 away, with an emphasis on intra-conference regional play. The top seven teams from each conference will qualify for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs
Highlight Opening Matches
On opening day, Houston Dynamo FC will host the San Jose Earthquakes at BBVA Stadium. Kickoff is at 8:oo p.m. PT. In the second match of the afternoon, the Seattle Sounders will welcome Minnesota FC to Lumen Field. Kickoff is at 9:30 p.m. ET.
The 26th MLS campaign welcomes Austin FC—the league’s 27th club. Austin FC will open the season versus 2020 Concacaf Champions League finalist Los Angeles Football Club at Banc of California Stadium on Saturday, April 17. The match will air on FOX at 5:30 p.m. ET.
The 2021 opening weekend will be the first time all five national broadcast partners showcase MLS matches on their over-the-air networks, including ABC, FOX, Univision’s UniMás as well as CTV and TVA in Canada. ESPN networks will broadcast 27 matches this season while streaming 350 regional broadcasts, out of market, on ESPN+ for fans throughout the U.S. Univision’s coverage of the 2021 MLS season features 25 games—11 on Univision and 14 on UniMás.
As stated above, Univision will air MLS opening weekend on UniMás. This season, the channel will be live from Exploria Stadium as Orlando City SC hosts Atlanta United on Saturday, April 17 at 3 p.m. ET.
On Sunday, April 18, Inter Miami CF host David Beckham’s former club, the LA Galaxy, live on ABC and ESPN Deportes at 3 p.m. ET.
New MLS Stadiums Open in 2021
Austin FC will host its inaugural home match, and the landmark opening of Q2 Stadium, on Saturday, June 19. The club will face off against the San Jose Earthquakes on UniMás and TUDN at 9 p.m. ET. The 2021 season will also welcome two more professional soccer stadiums. FC Cincinnati will debut the West End Stadium in the club’s 2021 home opener on May 16 versus Inter Miami CF. The match will air live on FOX at 4 p.m. ET. Defending MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew SC, who will open the season at Historic Crew Stadium, will debut its new downtown stadium this summer.
Canadian Teams Open Season in the U.S.
Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, the three Canadian clubs will begin the MLS regular season on American soil. Each club will host matches in a U.S. city:
- CF Montreal: Miami, Fla.; Inter Miami CF Stadium.
- Toronto FC: Orlando, Fla.; Exploria Stadium.
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Sandy, Utah; Rio Tinto Stadium.
Other Highlight Weekends:
- Heineken Rivalry Week: 10 days of rivalry action from Aug. 20-29.
- MLS Cup Rematch: During Heineken Rivalry Week, reigning champion Columbus Crew SC will host Seattle Sounders FC in a rematch of the 2020 MLS Cup live on FOX and FOX Deportes on Aug. 21 at 5:30 p.m. ET. The match will be held at New Crew Stadium in downtown Columbus, Ohio.
- Decision Day: In a final day of action on Sunday, Nov. 7, all teams will face intra-conference opponents in a battle for playoff spots and seeding. In two back-to-back broadcast windows, the conferences will see their games kick off simultaneously to determine who qualifies for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.
- Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs: Set to begin on November 19, 2021.
- MLS Cup: Dec. 11, 2021, at 3 p.m. ET.
Click here for the 2021 MLS Regular Season Schedule
MLS Innovates Online Presence
Major League Soccer recently updated its website to showcase that MLS has returned. In addition, MLS unveiled its “Our Soccer” campaign, championing the distinct and inclusive soccer culture that exists in the U.S. and Canada.
“The launch of our innovative transformation of MLSsoccer.com and the reveal of the style, tone and imagery of the ‘Our Soccer’ campaign for 2021 are the ultimate signals that Major League Soccer is ready to produce another unforgettable season for the fans,” said Chris Schlosser, MLS SVP of Media.
The website features an updated homepage, flexible content platform and enhanced match-day experience.
MLS Soccer’s fan programming, which includes “Extratime” and the all-female-led show “The Call Up,” features talent that reflects the diversity of the league and sport. MLS Media’s Spanish-language content division, MLS Español, will also continue delivering in-culture and in-language content to the diverse Spanish-speaking audiences in the United States and Latin America.
MLS’ return aims to unify the soccer community. The league’s “Our Soccer” campaign kicks off the 2021 season with the “Ready For It” promo video. The segment highlights what it is like being a fan today, star players, exhilarating moments, culture of inclusivity and the diverse MLS fanbase. The video showcases the tremendous optimism for the league and sport as the soccer community returns to North American stadiums.
With the 2021 campaign set to kick off next Friday, MLS joins stride with Americans optimistic about the future. MLS is committed to a return that reflects modern times, which is reflected by the league’s innovation in recent months. Stay tuned for more MLS coverage by SoccerToday in 2021.
Media Credit: MLS