Major League Soccer releases 2014 schedule, Sporting KC vs. Seattle to kick things off live on NBCSN

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On Monday Major League Soccer announced the schedule for the 2014 season as fans across MLS start to plan for this season.

In the lead up to the 2013 MLS Cup between Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake at Sporting Park, MLS revealed their entire schedule for the 2014 season — the last year in which 19 teams will compete for MLS Cup as NYC FC and Orlando City will join in 2015 — and some mouth-watering match ups are already sticking out.

The league’s 19th regular season will begin on March 8 from CenturyLink field as SKC travel to the Seattle Sounders, 3pm ET, live on NBCSN.

To see the entire 2014 MLS schedule, click here.

NBC Sports Network will now have a dedicated Friday night slot from June 27 through October 24 and in the third year of the network’s coverage MLS fans will have even more to look forward to. In total NBC Sports will show 38 regular season games on NBCSN and three on NBC. Plus the hugely popular MLS Breakaway will also return on NBCSN on August 2 and September 20.

As widely expected MLS will take a two-week break during the group phase of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, just like it did back in 2010 when the World Cup was in South Africa. The last MLS matches before the break are on June 11, one day before the start of the World Cup.

Some intriguing rivalry matches adorn the must see matches, here are a quick list of 10 you shouldn’t miss:

  • LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake, Sat., March 8
  • Vancouver Whitecaps vs. New York Red Bulls, Sat., March 8
  • Houston Dynamo vs. Montreal Impact, Sat., March 15
  • Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake, Sat., April 5
  • Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers, Sat., April 19
  • Chicago Fire vs. LA Galaxy, Sun., June 1
  • San Jose Earthquakes vs. Chicago Fire, Weds., July 23
  • San Jose Earthquakes vs. Seattle Sounders, Sat., August 2
  • Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy, Sat., August 16
  • New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus Crew, Sun., October 19

A here’s a snippet of history for you here too, as MLS’s very own Dan Courtemanche reveals this fixture release is indeed the earliest in league history. Thanks, Dan.

From MLS’ release, this is just some of the MLS action you can look forward to exclusively in 2014 live on NBC Sports Network:

In the third season of its partnership, NBC Sports Group will open its coverage of the MLS season with six back-to-back Saturday afternoon matches, aligning with NBC Sports Group’s Barclays Premier League coverage. The broadcast package will feature MLS matches on Friday night slots on NBCSN from June 27 through October 24. All told, NBC Sports Group will broadcast 38 regular season games, plus three on NBC. Some of the highlights include two Fourth of July matches, LA vs. Portland and Houston vs. New York Red Bulls, and the California Clasico between San Jose and LA on June 28 at Stanford Stadium, all on NBCSN.

Podolski goes out with super goal; Germany tops England

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The highlight of Wednesday’s international friendly docket was Lukas Podolski‘s final match for Germany, and the former Arsenal man did not disappoint his crowd.

But first, Canada plays its first match since unveiling new coach Octavio Zambrano.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Scotland 1-1 Canada

Zambrano saw plenty to like from his new side, as Canada went ahead early with a goal from former Scottish youth Fraser Aird. Toronto-born, the ex-Rangers and current Falkirk man got his first Canadian goal against the team he represented at U-17 and U-19 levels.

Norwich City’s Steven Naismith redirected Tom Cairney‘s shot to make it 1-1 before the break, but Scotland never found its way back into Canada’s net.

Germany 1-0 England

Lukas Podolski scored his 49th international goal in his final cap for Germany, and it was spectacular.

Joe Hart didn’t stand a chance.

The match saw big stops from both ‘keepers, as Hart thwarted Leroy Sane on a second half break after Marc-Andre Ter Stegen defied Dele Alli in the opening 45.

Podolski subbed off in the 84th minute to wild applause, but it must sting slightly to know you finished an illustrious career one goal short of a nice, round 50. We guess he’ll have to rest on his millions and millions of earnings and loads of on-field honors.

Elsewhere
Vietnam 1-1 Chinese Taipei
Philippines 0-0 Malaysia
Cyprus 3-1 Kazakhstan
Yemen 0-1 Palestine
Cambodia 2-3 India

McClean to wear No. 5 in honor of deceased ex-teammate

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James McClean is a colorful personality who doesn’t shy away from strong opinions — he once called Jurgen Klopp “a bit of an idiot” — and the West Brom man is using the big stage of World Cup qualifying to proudly honor a deceased ex-teammate.

McClean has long before friends with Derry City captain Ryan McBride, who shockingly died hours after leading his side to a league win this weekend. Given his age (27), few saw it coming even after McBride admitted to feeling ill after the match.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

McBride and McClean played together at Derry, and the latter was excused from Republic of Ireland training to attend funeral services this week.

He’s still expected to play a role in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Wales on Friday, and McClean will don the No. 5 of McBride. Irish defender Richard Keogh usually wears the number and agreed to the change.

NASL side to broadcast all its matches on Twitter

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It’s fair to expect the San Francisco Deltas to be trendsetters in tech given their location and pedigree, and the first-year NASL club is doing just that.

The Deltas announced Wednesday that all of their home matches will be broadcast live on Twitter — in English, Spanish, and Portuguese — making them the first North American pro club to broadcast all of their matches on social media.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Twitter senior executive Josh McFarland had previously named as one of the investors in the Deltas, which makes the announcement even more natural. Other investors include tech execs from around the Silicon Valley.

Zlatan: Guardiola falling out “still drives me”

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Time heals all wounds, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic can still feel the scars from his falling out with Pep Guardiola.

The megawatt personalities saw their relationship deteriorate at Barcelona, with Ibrahimovic loaned to AC Milan one year after scoring 21 goals in 45 matches for Guardiola and the Blaugranas.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs Honduras? ]

Ibrahimovic never played for Barca again, and now has a chance to stare down Man City’s Guardiola in a Manchester Derby which could alter the Top Four fortunes of both sides. And he’s still powered by Pep.

From The Guardian, quoting a Sky Sports Italia interview:

“The problem wasn’t with me, it was with him, and he never came to terms with it. I don’t know what his problem was with me. It is something that drives me, gives me adrenaline and extra motivation. It is normal after what has happened. I’m using it as a positive, not negative.”

United visits City at the Etihad Stadium on April 27, and Ibrahimovic will be extra motivated (if that’s possible for the Swede, who seemingly would be fired up to beat someone in arcade bubble hockey).