MLS confirmed the details of the full 2021 schedule on Wednesday, with each of the league’s 27 teams set to play 34 games this season.
The league, which welcomes Austin FC for the club’s inaugural campaign,will kick-off on April 17 with seven consecutive weeks of games before the June international break.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, this season’s MLS schedule is focused heavily on intra-conference regional play as it runs towards a November finish.
The 14 teams that make up the Eastern Conference will play each of their six regional opponents three timesand the seven remaining Eastern Conference opponents twice, accounting for a large majority of their schedule with only two cross-conference games.
In the Western Conference, meanwhile, the schedule will look slightly different due to the odd number of teams. As a result, two Western Conference teams will play three cross-conference games this season.
The league is set to observe the June international break while also breaking in July just ahead of the Gold Cup. For the September international break, the league has provided teams an option to play, with 14 clubs choosing to do so during the FIFA window.
The annual Rivalry Week will run from August 20-29, featuring aderby between New York Red Bulls and New York City FC, El Trafico between LA Galaxy and Los Angeles FC as well as an MLS Cup rematch between Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders.
Decision Day, the last day of the regular season, will be held on November 7 with the play-offs set to begin on November 19 and conclude on December 11 with the MLS Cup.
In addition to league play, MLS clubs are also set to participate in the 2021 Leagues Cup, the CONCACAF Champions League and the Campeones Cup this season.
While the introduction of Austin FC is the big news heading into the 2021 campaign, there will also be several new stadiums on display in the coming season.
Austin will open their stadium on June 19 against the San Jose Earthquakes, while FC Cincinnati’s new West End Stadium will debut against Inter Miami on May 16.
Finally, the MLS Cup champion Crew will unveil their new stadium on July 3 when they face the New England Revolution.
Due to pandemic restrictions, the league’s three Canadian clubs will be forced to play their home matches in the U.S. for the foreseeable future.
The Vancouver Whitecaps will take up residence at Rio Tinto Stadium, home of Real Salt Lake, while Toronto FC will play at Orlando City’s Exploria Stadium. CF Montreal, meanwhile, are set to play their home matches at Inter Miami’s stadium.
Source : goal.com