The 2009 MLS schedule has been released.
The Sounders’ will open the season with a pair of home games: the previously announced March 19 game vs. New York at Qwest field and then home to Real Salt Lake on March 28. Then they head to Toronto April 4.
Here’s the release from MLS:
The 2009 MLS regular season kicks off Thursday, March 19 with a spirited and historic match – the inaugural game of Seattle Sounders FC. In front of an anticipated capacity crowd at Qwest Field, U.S. goalkeeping great Kasey Keller and Sounders FC will host the MLS Cup 2008 finalist New York Red Bulls, led by striker Juan Pablo Ángel, in a game aired live in high definition on ESPN2.
Today MLS and its national broadcast partners announced the entire regular season schedule for 2009, the League’s 14th season.
The complete schedule is listed below. Throughout the year, the most up-to-date version and the team-by-team schedules are available at www.MLSnet.com.
Each of the 15 teams in MLS will play 30 regular season games for a total of 225 games. Fans can watch any of the 225 games live via the national broadcast partners, regional telecasts, the Direct Kick television package or MLSnet.com. Regional broadcast schedules will be announced by the teams as they are finalized.
The 15 MLS clubs will face each other twice for a base of 28 games per team. The two remaining games for each team will be against intra-conference opponents, with a priority on rivalry matchups.
This year 90 percent of MLS games will be played on weekends (Friday, Saturday or Sunday), compared to about 84 percent in 2008 and 80 percent in 2007. MLS reduced the volume of games on or around Aug. 12, Sept. 5 and Oct. 10 – all World Cup Qualifying dates. Teams will have occasional bye weeks because of the odd number of teams in MLS this season. An effort was made to schedule byes during international competitions for the teams competing in CONCACAF Champions League (Columbus Crew, D.C. United, New York Red Bulls and Houston Dynamo) and SuperLiga (Chicago Fire, New England Revolution, Kansas City Wizards and Chivas USA).
First Kick, presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods, is the opening weekend of the MLS season and features seven games. After Seattle’s inaugural game, Fox Soccer Channel and Fox Sports en Español bring fans an exciting, live Saturday night doubleheader on March 21: First, the past two MLS Cup champions – Houston Dynamo and Columbus Crew – square off, then the Colorado Rapids visit Chivas USA in a Western Conference showdown. Concluding the opening week of MLS action is a match between the two winningest clubs in MLS history, as the LA Galaxy host D.C. United on TeleFutura on Sunday, March 22 at 3 p.m.
Most games on ESPN2 will be offered in high definition with the polished play-by-play of JP Dellacamera and expert insight of U.S. national team great John Harkes. Seven games on ESPN2 will air in an extended 2 1/2-hour window. One regular season game, Seattle at Chicago on July 25, will be broadcast on ESPN. All MLS games on ESPN2 will be simulcast on ESPN360 and ESPN Deportes. In this, the third year of an eight-year agreement, MLS and ESPN have mutually agreed to schedule select matches outside the Thursday night window. Thirteen of the 27 games on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will air on weekends (Friday, Saturday or Sunday).
TeleFutura’s MLS broadcasts return to their Sunday afternoon timeslot, usually between games from Mexico’s Primera Division, the most successful sports programming on Univision’s family of networks. TeleFutura’s knowledgeable tandem of Jorge Perez Navarro and Diego Balado will add information, analysis and excitement to the Spanish-language network’s 24 regular season games.
Fox Soccer Channel is again scheduled to broadcast its complete slate of 33 regular-season games with on-site 30-minute pre- and post-game shows for a live three-hour programming window called "MLS Saturday on FSC," featuring Max Bretos (play-by-play), Christopher Sullivan (color analyst) and Todd Grisham (host) along with sideline reporters including Mark Rogondino, Christian Miles, Brian Dunseth and Steve Bell for thorough, fan-friendly coverage. Most Fox Soccer Channel MLS games are also scheduled to air live in Spanish in two-hour programming windows on sister network Fox Sports en Español, with some airing on a tape-delayed basis.
MLS is in discussions with HDNet to continue broadcasting games on the first all-high definition national television network. HDNet has partnered with MLS since 2003.
The regular season concludes Sunday, Oct. 25 with two games: Houston at Chivas USA on TeleFutura and the New England Revolution at Columbus. Eight teams will qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs, which begin Oct. 29 and culminate in MLS Cup 2009 on the weekend of Nov. 21-22 at a site to be announced at a later date.