MLS Unveils First Matches of 2011 Season

SEATTLE - OCTOBER 02: A general view of the stadium during the game between the Seattle Sounders FC and Toronto FC on October 2, 2010 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. Seattle Sounders FC defeated Toronto FC 3-2. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

The cold days of winter have gotten a little sunlight – MLS today unveiled their schedule for “First Kick 2011”, the first home games for every MLS team in the upcoming season.  The week will be the first week of the new balanced scheduling and offers some tantalizing match-ups for American soccer fans.

First up again is the Seattle Sounders, who for the third year in a row will kick off the MLS season, this time against the LA Galaxy.  The game can be seen at 9:30 PM Eastern on ESPN on March 15.

Saturday, March 19 is when most of the other clubs will begin the season and the schedule has some tantalizing games.  Expansion Vancouver will host fellow countrymen Toronto on the first weekend to christen the new MLS club.  Colorado will begin its defense of its MLS Cup against the expansion Timbers at 9 PM Eastern that day.  And in what may be the marquee match-up of the weekend, San Jose hosts Real Salt Lake in one of two matches featuring two 2010 playoff teams (the other is Seattle flying to New York to face the Red Bulls).

The weekend of March 26 allows many of the first weekend’s visiting teams to return home and play in front of home crowds.  The 2010 Eastern Conference top seeds face off at Columbus Crew Stadium at 4 PM.  The sexy match-up undoubtedly is Real Salt Lake’s first home match, where they will host the LA Galaxy in an early season battle of possible 2011 MLS Cup contenders.

The only two teams without a home opener in March are Portland (April 14) and Kansas City (June 9).  You can see the entire home opening slate here.

What do you think?  Is RSL/LA the best game of the first two weeks?  What do you think about your club’s opener?

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