League, teams debut 2005 schedule

twice at home and twice away -- and the six teams outside of its conference twice each -- once at home and once away.

The addition of two Western teams also resulted in a conference realignment, with the 2004 Western Conference Champion Kansas City Wizards moving to the East. That not only means that there will be a new Western Conference representative in MLS Cup 2005, but also that the Wizards and D.C. United will relive MLS Cup 2004 four times this season. United, who won their fourth MLS Cup title at the Wizards' expense in November 2004, will head to Kansas City on April 30 for their first match with the Wizards since last year's title tilt.

United will be involved in another mouth-watering rematch in April, hosting the New England Revolution on April 23 in the first of four games between the teams this season. United and the Revs combined at RFK Stadium in the nation's capital last November to provide a memorable Eastern Conference Final, a game some consider to be the best in MLS history.

The opening-day match between RSL and the MetroStars also brings the first of a handful of reunions for marquee players who switched teams in the offseason. Eddie Pope and Clint Mathis, both now with RSL, most recently played in MLS for the Metros. Pope moved from the Big Apple to the Wasatch Front through a trade just last month, while Mathis recently returned to the United States after a one-year stint in the German Bundesliga.

Another blockbuster January trade saw the Chicago Fire's all-time leading scorer, forward Ante Razov, sent to the Columbus Crew in exchange for defender-midfielder Tony Sanneh. Razov will play his former team four times this season, but half of the season will have elapsed by the time he pays his first visit to the Windy City in a yellow jersey on July 16. The Crew play host to the Fire for the first time in 2005 on April 30.

Defender Jeff Agoos, who spent four years in the Bay Area as the captain of the San Jose Earthquakes, also switched colors this winter after being traded to the MetroStars on Dec. 12. He will return to Spartan Stadium for one match this year on July 23.

Two head coaches will also return, at some point this season, to cities where they once coached. CD Chivas USA coach Thomas Rongen will take his club to New England on April 30 and to Washington, D.C., on Aug. 13, while new Colorado Rapids boss Fernando Clavijo will head to Foxborough, Mass., on May 28.

As in recent years, the vast majority of league matches will be held on Saturdays, with some matches also being played on Wednesdays, Sundays and Fridays. There will be four matches played on Mondays (including three on the Fourth of July) and one played on a Thursday (RSL at United on July 28).

Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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