5 MLS Matches To Watch Opening Weekend

After two weeks of CCL action, MLS clubs kick off the 2019 season.

The 24th season of Major League Soccer kicks off Saturday with 12 matches across multiple networks. FC Cincinnati joins as the latest expansion franchise to MLS, bringing the total to 24 teams. Atlanta United impressed on and off the field in 2018, winning the MLS Cup before record crowds and average attendance over 53,000.

Here are five key matches to check out opening weekend. (For odds for the MLS season, click here.)

5 MLS Openers To Watch

1) Seattle Sounders vs. FC Cincinnati

  • Date: Saturday, March 2
  • Time: 10:00 p.m. ET
  • Channel: FS1

For the second year in a row, Seattle opens a season by hosting an expansion side. However, 2019 welcomes back Jordan Morris, who missed all of the 2018 season, and a full campaign with striker Raul Ruidiaz, with Cristian Roldan moving back into the defensive midfield role after the club moved on from Ozzie Alonso after 10 seasons. 

FC Cincinnati has collected MLS experience and is expected to set up defensively as it adjusts to top-flight life. Greg Garza, Kendall Waston and Alvas Powell should ensure Cincy won't ship the goals Minnesota did during its first year in MLS, but questions remain if Fernando Adi can score enough goals isolated up top. 

2) D.C. United vs. Atlanta United

  • Date: Sunday, March 3
  • Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
  • Channel: ESPN

This could end up being the most entertaining match of the weekend.

D.C. is ready to start life with a full season of Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta. The duo will hope Atlanta enters Audi Field with tired legs from its Concacaf Champions League tie on Thursday.

2018 brought MLS Cup, hosting the final and breaking every MLS attendance record to Atlanta. With that success and the spotlight, star midfielder Miguel Almiron was snapped up by Newcastle, where he has continued to shine. In 2019, Atlanta United is looking for the Supporters' Shield, the Champions League, MLS Cup — basically everything. South American Player of the Year Pity Martinez steps in to replace Almiron. 

3) Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls

  • Date: Saturday, March 2
  • Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
  • Channel: ESPN+

Columbus can start 2019 with the #SaveTheCrew rollercoaster behind it and plans for a new downtown stadium in the future. But how will the team's style change under new head coach Caleb Porter?

Expect a rotated side for the Red Bulls, who successfully navigated the opening round of the Concacaf Champions League. While Tyler Adams has moved on to RB Leipzig, Cristian Casseres Jr. and Marc Rzatkowski look ready to step into the void and MLS' spotlight. 

4) Los Angeles FC vs. Sporting Kansas City

  • Date: Sunday, March 3
  • Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
  • Channel: ESPN

Banc of California Stadium hosts the final game of Match Day 1, as LAFC is hoping a full offseason together can help the club push for the Supporters' Shield from the start. Check out Year 1 of Bob Bradley's side on the new ESPN+ series: "We are LAFC."

SKC enters the match having played twice already, knocking off Liga MX side Toluca from the Concacaf Champions League on Thursday night. 

5) Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire

  • Date: Saturday, March 2
  • Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Channel: FS1

FC Zlatan returns for a second season ready to pull off the unthinkable. No, not wonder goals (those are a given), but the much harder task of leading the patchwork Galaxy into the playoffs. 

Chicago would like to forget about 2018. The Fire will have high expectations for rising USMNT prospect Djordje Mihailovic running the No. 10 spot for Chicago.

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