Major League Soccer’s 26th season will kick off on Friday, April 16 with all five national broadcast partners showcasing matches on their networks, including the highly anticipated first match of expansion side Austin FC, the league announced Wednesday.
In a mouth-watering debut, Austin FC will meet Concacaf Champions League finalist LAFC at Banc of California Stadium on April 17 (5:30 pm ET | FOX, FOX Deportes) as part of a 13-match opening weekend slate.
Additional opening weekend highlights include a Canadian Clasique showdown between CF Montréal and Toronto FC at Inter Miami CF Stadium April 17 (2 pm ET | CTV, TSN, TVA, TVA Sports in Canada; ESPN+ in US), an Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs rematch between Seattle Sounders FC and Minnesota United on April 16 (9:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes) at Lumen Field and the first match of the 2021 season, featuring Houston Dynamo FC hosting the San Jose Earthquakes at BBVA Stadium April 16 (8 pm ET | ESPN+).
The 2021 opening weekend will be the first time all five national broadcast partners showcase MLS matches on their over-the-air networks, including ABC, FOX, and Univision's UniMás in the U.S. and CTV and TVA in Canada.
ABC and ESPN networks will kick off their 26th season of national coverage on Sunday, April 18 as Inter Miami CF host David Beckham’s former club, the LA Galaxy (3 pm ET | ABC, ESPN Deportes). ESPN+ will stream all regional broadcasts nationally, out-of-market, including 17 club home openers.
FOX Sports will showcase three matches opening weekend, headlined by Austin FC’s inaugural match against LAFC on FOX, and two additional matches on FS1. All three matches will also be broadcast nationally in Spanish on FOX Deportes. Univision's coverage will begin when UniMás spotlights Orlando City SC hosting rivals Atlanta United, with new coach Gabriel Heinze, on Saturday, April 17 at 3 pm ET.
Any nationally televised matches not aired by a national English-language network will be streamed live in English on Twitter.
Joining Austin FC’s Q2 Stadium, which will open when Austin FC host the San Jose Earthquakes on June 19 (9 pm ET | UniMás, TUDN), the 2021 season will see the opening of two additional world-class soccer stadiums. FC Cincinnati will debut West End Stadium during the club’s 2021 home opener on May 16, hosting Inter Miami CF (4 pm ET | FOX) and defending MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew SC, who will start the season with home matches at Historic Crew Stadium, will debut its new downtown stadium this summer.
Canadian teams openers
Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, the three Canadian clubs will begin the MLS regular season in the U.S. with each club hosting matches in a U.S. city:
- Montreal Impact: Miami, Fla.; Inter Miami CF Stadium
- Toronto FC: Orlando, Fla.; Exploria Stadium
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Sandy, Utah; Rio Tinto Stadium
Full dates and broadcast details of the 2021 MLS season schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.
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