MLS releases 2005 schedule
Major League Soccer released the 2005 regular season schedule Monday featuring 192 games which will be played between Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, October 16. In a season that will be marked by the League's 10th season celebrations, the 2005 All-Star break is scheduled for the weekend of July 30 with the MLS Cup champion being crowned on November 13.
With the League expanding to 12 teams in 2005 as Real Salt Lake and Club Deportivo Chivas USA play their inaugural seasons, each MLS team will play a 32-game schedule, up from 30 games played in 2004. All 12 clubs will play each of their conference opponents four times (twice at home and twice on the road) while meeting each of the six teams in the opposite conference over two games (one at home and one away).
The two expansion teams will feature prominently in 2005 with Los Angeles-based Chivas USA hosting MLS First Kick on April 2 in a nationally televised matchup against MLS Cup champion D.C. United at The Home Depot Center (ABC Sports at 3:00 p.m. ET). The season opens on that day with a full slate of six matches, including a recent change in the host of one opening day matchup as FC Dallas welcomes the Chicago Fire on April 2 while Chicago hosts FC Dallas on June 12.
In addition to opening the season on national television, Chivas USA will also host the regular season finale at The Home Depot Center when they host the MetroStars on October 16. The team will be sharing The Home Depot Center soccer stadium with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2005 including eight times on the same weekend (May 7-8, May 21-22, June 11-12, July 2-4, July 22-23, September 3-4, September 24-25 and October 15-16).
The four highly anticipated local derbies between Chivas USA and the Los Angeles Galaxy, the first intra-city showdown in MLS history, begin on April 23. The Galaxy will be the home team on April 23 and July 16 while Chivas USA will be the hosts for the games on May 28 and October 8.
With one automatic rivalry developing in the city of Los Angeles, Real Salt Lake is also expected to engage in a regional competition with the neighboring Colorado Rapids over four head-to-head matches in the Western Conference. The two teams close out their 2005 campaigns in a match scheduled to be played at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on October 15, as intra-conference games highlight the stretch run of the regular season.
The Rapids and the Los Angeles Galaxy will host two of the three games on Independence Day on July 4 in what has become a tradition since the inaugural 1996 season. Three games on July 2 will round out a full slate of matches on Independence Day weekend.
Another key event on the League calendar is the opening of the new FC Dallas soccer stadium at the Frisco Soccer & Entertainment Center in Frisco, Texas, where record rainfall has delayed the inauguration of the world's largest pro and youth soccer complex until the beginning of August. FC Dallas will play all home matches prior to August 6 at the Cotton Bowl. The new FSEC facility will host MLS Cup on November 13 as the League's 10th champion is crowned.
The complete League season schedule follow. Kick-off times and the national broadcast schedule will be released in the near future (schedule subject to change):