MLS Announces 2021 Regular Season Schedule
2021 season to see debut of Austin FC and opening of three new world-class soccer stadiums
MLS 26th season broadcast schedule sees most expansive over-the-air coverage ever on ABC, FOX, Univision, CTV and TVA networks
NEW YORK(Wednesday, March 24, 2021) – Highlighted by the inaugural season of Austin FC, the opening of three new soccer stadiums, intense rivalries, and the most expansive and accessible national broadcast schedule in the league’s history, the complete 2021 MLS regular season match schedule, including national broadcast details, was unveiled today by Major League Soccer.
With more opportunities to watch than ever before, Major League Soccer’s 26th season will be the most accessible ever, at home and on connected devices. A record 37 games will be shown in the U.S. over-the-air on ABC, FOX, Univision and UniMás national network broadcasts, with more to be added in the months ahead, and seven matches this season over-the-air on CTV in Canada. In addition, ESPN+ will stream all regional broadcasts nationally, out-of-market, in the U.S. and any nationally televised matches not aired by an English-language network will again be streamed live in English on Twitter.
The 2021 season will see all 27 MLS clubs compete in 34 regular season matches, 17 home and 17 away, with an emphasis on intra-conference regional play. At the end of the regular season, the top seven teams from each conference will qualify for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs. Click Here for the 2021 regular season competition structure.
Kicking off the season on April 16, the MLS season gets off to a fast start with seven uninterrupted weeks of action, including some of the League’s top regional rivalries, before a break to allow MLS players to feature for national teams during the June FIFA international window. This opening stretch will see ABC, FOX and Univision each broadcast four matches, with an additional 18 matches showcased on the ESPN, FS1, UniMás, and TUDN networks through Memorial Day weekend.
Highlighting the season’s early weeks, FC Cincinnati will open its stunning West End Stadium, debuting the building with a match against Inter Miami CF on May 16, live on FOX and FOX Deportes. Just one month later, 2021 expansion side Austin FC will celebrate the club’s inaugural home match during the opening of Q2 Stadium, as the team hosts the San Jose Earthquakes live on UniMás and TUDN. Completing three new stadium openings in the first three months of the 2021 MLS schedule, all eyes will again turn to Ohio as the reigning MLS Cup Champion Columbus Crew SC make the historic move to New Crew Stadium on July 3. Opening their second soccer-specific stadium in team history, the Crew will host the New England Revolution live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The matchup is a nod to history as Columbus opened the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS in 1999 with a game against the Revolution in the league’s fourth season.
A partner since the league’s inception, the ABC and ESPN networks will showcase five regular season matches over-the-air on ABC this season, the most since 1998. The coverage on ABC kicks off on Sunday, April 18 as Inter Miami CF host David Beckham’s former club, the LA Galaxy, and continues with the first-ever ABC doubleheader on Sunday, May 9, with Inter Miami CF vs. Atlanta United at 1 p.m. ET and Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders FC at 3 p.m. ET.
In addition to ABC coverage, the ESPN networks will broadcast 27 matches this season while streaming 350 regional broadcasts, out of market, on ESPN+ for fans throughout the U.S.
Among the seven games on FOX is the first match in Austin FC history as they meet 2020 Concacaf Champions League finalist Los Angeles Football Club at Banc of California Stadium on Saturday, April 17. On May 8, FOX will broadcast the first installment of 2021 of the El Tráfico rivalry between the LA Galaxy and LAFC. FS1 will have 25 MLS telecasts in 2021, including the home opener of the 2020 MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew SC, as they take on 2020 Supporters’ Shield winners, the Philadelphia Union. FOX Deportes will present 32 games this season.
Univision’s coverage of the 2021 MLS season features at least 25 games – 11 on Univision and 14 on UniMás – with all games simulcast on TUDN. With a robust schedule, Univision networks will bring fans marquee matches including Orlando City SC vs. Atlanta United on April 17 (UniMás, TUDN), Austin FC’s landmark home opener at Q2 Stadium against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, June 19 (UniMás, TUDN), as well as the Cali Clasico match, San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy, on Friday, June 26 during a West Coast primetime 10 p.m. ET kickoff on UniMás and TUDN broadcast.
In addition to the seven matches airing on CTV, TSN is Canada’s official English-language broadcaster of the 2021 MLS regular season, which sees the network bring fans comprehensive coverage of all three Canadian clubs, including every Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC match, along with a multitude of CF Montreal matches.
Additionally, TVA Sports will provide French-language coverage of all CF Montreal matches, kicking off coverage with the CF Montreal vs. Toronto FC match over-the-air on both TVA and CTV on April 17. CF Montreal and Toronto FC will face off two more times in the season, on Aug. 27 during Heineken Rivalry Week, and Oct. 23, just two weeks before the end of the regular season. In addition to matches against Toronto, TVA Sports, CTV and TSN will bring fans the CF Montreal match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on May 8.
Additional Key Moments in the 2021 MLS Schedule
Heineken Rivalry Week: Heineken will present 10 days, including two weekends, of rivalry action from Aug. 20-29. Kicking off the rivalry action on Friday, Aug. 20, the LA Galaxy will host the San Jose Earthquakes live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10 p.m. ET. On Saturday, Aug. 21, MLS will showcase a rivalry tripleheader, including the Friendliest Rivalry in Sports, Minnesota United vs. Sporting Kansas City, at 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN Deportes, an MLS Cup rematch between Columbus Crew SC and Seattle Sounders FC at 5:30 p.m. ET on FOX and FOX Deportes, before finishing with a primetime 8 p.m. ET kickoff for the New York Derby between the New York Red Bulls and NYCFC on FS1 and FOX Deportes.
The second weekend of matches will see an ESPN doubleheader on Friday, Aug. 27 with the Hell is Real Derby, Columbus Crew SC vs. FC Cincinnati, at 6:30 p.m., followed by Orlando City SC hosting Florida foe Inter Miami CF at 8:30 p.m. With Univision showcasing the regional matchup of Atlanta United vs. Nashville SC at 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX and FOX Deportes will showcase El Tráfico, LAFC vs. LA Galaxy, during primetime on Saturday, Aug. 28 at 8 p.m. ET. While FS1 and FOX Deportes will broadcast the newest regional rivalry of Austin FC vs. FC Dallas on Sunday, Aug. 29 at 8 p.m. ET, Heineken Rivalry Week will close with a bang as Seattle Sounders FC host the Portland Timbers in a Cascadia Cup match at 10:30 p.m. ET, live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
MLS Cup Rematch: A marquee matchup during the first weekend of Heineken Rivalry Week, the reigning champion Columbus Crew SC will host Seattle Sounders FC in a rematch of the 2020 MLS Cup live on FOX and FOX Deportes on Aug. 21 at 5:30 p.m. ET. The match will be held at New Crew Stadium in downtown Columbus, Ohio.
Decision Day: In a final day of action on Sunday, Nov. 7, all teams will face intra-conference opponents in a battle for playoff spots and seeding. In two back-to-back broadcast windows, each conference will see their games kick off simultaneously to determine who is in, and who is out of the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs. Kickoff times and broadcast details will be announced at a later date.
Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs: At the end of the regular season, the top seven teams from each conference will qualify for the Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, set to begin on November 19. More information about postseason schedule will be announce at a later date.
MLS Cup: Major League Soccer’s championship match will be played on Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. ET and air live on ABC, UniMás, TSN and TVA Sports.
Additional Notes about the 2021 MLS Schedule
- With a focus on the health and safety of all players and staff, MLS clubs will continue to travel on charter flights during the pandemic. In an effort to minimize travel and time on the road, the number of regional matches has been increased and clubs will travel the day of the game whenever possible.
- MLS will break during the June FIFA international window, as well as July 9-16 around the opening of the Concacaf Gold Cup. MLS clubs were presented with the option to play during the September FIFA international window, with 14 clubs electing to do so.
- As announced yesterday, the following clubs have qualified for the 2021 Leagues Cup set to begin the week of Aug. 9: Sporting Kansas City, Orlando City SC, Seattle Sounders FC, and New York City FC.
- The five MLS teams that have qualified for the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, Atlanta United, Columbus Crew SC, Philadelphia Union, Portland Timbers and Toronto FC, will kick off the first leg of Round-of-16 play on April 6-8, with second legs scheduled for April 13-15.
- Campeones Cup returns in 2021 for its third edition, hosted by reigning MLS Cup Champion Columbus Crew SC, to be played the week of September 27.
- All three editions of the famed El Tráfico rivalry between the LA Galaxy and Los Angeles Football Club will be broadcast nationally in prime time.
- Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, the three Canadian clubs will play MLS regular season matches in the following U.S. cities and venues until a return to their home markets is permitted:
- CF Montreal: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Inter Miami CF Stadium
- Toronto FC: Orlando, Fla.; Exploria Stadium
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Sandy, Utah; Rio Tinto Stadium