MLS 2019 Changes, News, Schedules, Stadiums, New Team & More
Coming off the most successful season from a competitive and business perspective in its 23-year history, Major League Soccer today unveiled the schedule for the 2019 regular season.
The debut of MLSâ€™ 24th club, FC Cincinnati, highlights a season that includes new and renovated stadiums, increased coverage of major events, more primetime matchups, and expanded flex scheduling options for U.S. networks. It also sees the advent of the new fixed-bracket, single-elimination playoff format with the higher seed hosting every match, which significantly increases the importance of the regular season. In the 2019 season each club plays 34 games (17 home and 17 away), facing conference opponents twice, and playing each non-conference opponent once.
Opening weekend on March 2-3 includes five broadcasts on national networks in the U.S. â€“ the most ever for an opening weekend in MLS history. Matches include the first MLS regular season game for FC Cincinnati, as they visit Seattle Sounders FC on March 2 (FS1); and D.C. United hosting defending MLS Cup champions Atlanta United FC on March 3 (ESPN).
March 17 marks the date of the historic first home match for FC Cincinnati as they take on MLS Cup finalist the Portland Timbers at Nippert Stadium (FS1).
Allianz Field, the world-class stadium for Minnesota United FC, opens on April 13 when Minnesota United FC host New York City FC (ESPN2). Allianz Field becomes the leagueâ€™s 20th stadium built or transformed for soccer.
Providence Park reopens on June 1 after undergoing a 4,000-seat expansion when the Portland Timbers play their home opener against Los Angeles Football Club (ESPN2). The Timbers have sold out every regular season and playoff home game since joining MLS in 2011 â€“ a streak that is now at 144 games.
During the opening week of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, MLS has no matches scheduled from June 14-21.
Immediately following FOXâ€™s broadcast of the FIFA Womenâ€™s World Cup Final on July 7, the network will present Atlanta United FCâ€“New York Red Bulls at 2 p.m. EST from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target at Orlando City Stadium is on July 31 and will be broadcast on FS1, UniMĂˇs, TSN, TVA Sports and in more than 170 countries around the globe.
Heineken Rivalry Week from Aug. 21-25 presents a dynamic slate of matchups across the league, and this year features eight national network broadcasts in the U.S. â€“ the most in Heineken Rivalry Week history. Games include D.C. United-New York Red Bulls on Aug. 21 on UniMĂˇs; an Aug. 23 doubleheader on ESPN of Orlando City SC-Atlanta United FC followed by Portland Timbers-Seattle Sounders FC; NYCFC-New York Red Bulls in the New York Derby on Aug. 24 on ESPN2; and an Aug. 25 doubleheader on FS1 of new interstate rivals FC Cincinnati-Columbus Crew SC followed by LAFC-LA Galaxy.
When the regular season culminates in what promises to be a spectacular Decision Day, all MLS clubs will compete in matches on Oct. 6 starting at 4 p.m. ET. ESPN will select one feature match to broadcast, and will provide special, around-the-league coverage from beginning to end.
The MLS Cup Playoffs will begin on Oct. 19 and the 2019 MLS Cup is set for Nov. 10.
In the crucial final four weeks of the season, on Sundays from Sept. 15 until MLS Decision Day on Oct. 6, MLS is presenting Flexible Scheduling for ESPN and FS1.
In 2019, MLS games will be televised in 21 primetime windows on FS1 and 13 in primetime on ESPN/ESPN2. Those 34 matches represent the most English language broadcasts in primetime since 2015.
ESPN and ESPN2 will have a combined 14 matches between July 12 â€“ Aug. 24, making for a strong summer of soccer in the push before the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Besides the four MLS games on FOX, FS1 will carry 30 games â€“ including five in the first three weekends of the season.
MLS returns to the UnivisiĂłn networks with 14 matches airing on Univision and 13 matches airing on UniMas, including seven Friday night games. For the second consecutive season, all games on Univision will be streamed on Twitter in English.
In Canada, CTV and TSN will have regular coverage of games featuring Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, with CTV carrying eight games during the first two months of the season. TVA Sports broadcasts all of the Montreal Impactâ€™s games in French, including a run between April 6 â€“ May 11 when the Impact play six consecutive weekend afternoon matches.
MLS LIVE will be available on ESPN+ in the U.S. and DAZN in Canada.