Here are some notes following Monday’s release of the 2014 MLS schedule (Sounders FC’s is available in the previous post):
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— There are 103 days until the season opener. And the Sounders will kick off the very first game leaguewide at noon March 8 against MLS Cup finalist Sporting Kansas City. There will be seven other games later that day, but the earliest start is in Seattle.
— Four of six Cascadia games will be on the road. The upcoming schedule is a reverse of 2013, which was a reverse of 2012, meaning the Sounders will once again play rivals Portland and Vancouver twice apiece on the road and once at home. The spirit of the regional competition continues to be slightly tainted with the imbalance in the opinion of many, including mine. Here are those games: April 5 at Portland, May 24 at Vancouver, July 5 at Vancouver, July 13 vs. Portland, Aug. 24 at Portland, Oct. 10 vs. Vancouver.
— Thirteen games on national television. The Sounders are always a popular draw for national TV, and that continues with six games on the NBC Sports Network, four games on ESPN2, two games on NBC proper and one on ESPN. Eleven of Seattle’s final 16 regular-season games will have a national audience.
— There will be a two-week break during World Cup. The big tournament in Brazil kicks off June 12 and the group stage ends June 24. There will be no MLS games during that time, but there are some games June 11. The World Cup ends on July 13 (same day as a Sounders-Timbers game here), and it looks like participating players could miss quite a bit of action when you consider there will be pre-tournament preparation, as well.
— Galaxy home and home to end the year. The Sounders travel to Los Angeles for the second-to-last game of the regular season and then return home to host the Galaxy in the final game. History suggests those two games could factor into playoff seeding and perhaps more. That final game is Oct. 25 with other league games to be played Oct. 26, so it looks like the Sounders could have to wait for certain results once they’re done.
— NBCSN to have two MLS Breakaway shows. The channel will whip around a handful of live games on Aug. 2 and Sept. 20 like NFL RedZone. On Aug. 2, the Sounders will be playing the Earthquakes at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, the very first game at the San Francisco 49ers new stadium.
— Season schedule much the same. A lot looks familiar: 34 games, 17 home and 17 away, teams in the West play each other three times apiece and cross-conference foes just once. The team with the best record will host MLS Cup again and the league has scheduled nearly 90 percent of games on weekends.