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December 20, 2010 at 12:40 PM

For the third-straight year, Sounders FC to host stand-alone opener to kick off MLS season

ssfc faithful.jpgPhoto credit: Ellen M. Banner, The Seattle Times

Major League Soccer will again reward Sounders FC for its unparalleled fan support with a stand-alone home opener to kick off the 2011 MLS Season. Seattle hosts the L.A. Galaxy at Qwest Field on Tuesday, March 15, at 6:30 p.m. — a match to be broadcast on ESPN.

Sounders FC had hosted First Kick games in the 2009 and 2010 seasons as well. In Year 1, Seattle routed the New York Red Bulls 3-0 in the franchise’s inaugural match. Last year, the expansion Philadelphia Union came to Qwest Field and lost 2-0.

The news shouldn’t be a huge surprise considering Sounders FC’s standing in the league (boasting around 15,000 more fans per league match than its closest competitor). I’ve added the MLS press release below with information on home openers for all teams.

What do you think of the news?

* * *

MLS Unveils Home Openers for 2011 Regular Season

Seattle hosts LA in First Kick, presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods, March 15 on ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN3.com

NEW YORK (Monday, Dec. 20, 2010) – Major League Soccer’s 16th season will kick off on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 when Seattle Sounders FC host the LA Galaxy live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN3.com at 9:30 p.m. ET. MLS First Kick 2011 is presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Merely 128 days after the Galaxy eliminated Seattle from the MLS Cup Playoffs, Fredy Montero, Kasey Keller and the rest of Sounders FC hope to deliver a cathartic win to another sellout crowd at Qwest Field. But LA’s star-studded roster – led by Landon Donovan and David Beckham – aims to start off right as it defends its 2010 Supporters’ Shield and looks to advance to a record seventh MLS Cup final.

All 18 clubs will take the field during the opening week as they embark on a 34-game, balanced regular season in which every club will face each other twice – once at home, once on the road.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC begin their first MLS season against Canadian rivals Toronto FC on March 19 in one of the marquee matches of the opening weekend.

By the end of Week 2 of the 2011 season, 16 clubs will have played in front of their home fans. The Portland Timbers begin their inaugural MLS campaign at the MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids on March 19, and celebrate the opening of the fully-renovated PGE Park on April 14 against the Chicago Fire. Sporting Kansas City begin their landmark season on the road while the finishing touches are made to KC Soccer Stadium, a stunning new venue that will stage its first MLS match on June 9, also against the Fire.

The schedule for the 18 home openers is below. The entire 2011 MLS regular season will be released by early February. Although MLS will schedule games on FIFA friendly dates, no games will be scheduled on FIFA World Cup Qualifying dates.

Home club listed first, in bold; All times Eastern

Schedule subject to change:

Tuesday, March 15

Seattle Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com)

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, 8:30 p.m.

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

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