The 2015 Major League Soccer schedule was released in full today, with some highlights to point out, many involving new teams to the league.
First and foremost, the most newsworthy part of the release was confirmation that the 2015 MLS Cup playoffs will include 12 teams, expanded from 10 last year. That means a whopping 60% of the teams in Major League Soccer will make it past the regular season and into the postseason.
Important notes and dates:
-There are 34 total matches for each team.
-Clubs will play each team in the opposing conference once, to make up 10 of the games (5 home and 5 away).
-Toronto FC will begin the season with its first seven fixtures on the road because of work being done on BMO Field.
-Via the MLS release: “The 2015 season marks the first of an eight-year television and media rights partnership with ESPN, FOX Sports and Univision that will feature a Univision game of the week on Friday nights and an ESPN and FOX Sports double-header nearly every Sunday all season.”
-March 8: The two new expansion teams will match up on opening weekend, with New York City FC visiting Orlando City FC.
-June 26-28: “Rivalry Week” round one that will feature the Texas Derby (Houston Dynamo @ FC Dallas), the first-ever New York derby (New York Red Bulls @ New York City FC) from Yankee Stadium, and the Cascadia Cup (Seattle @ Portland).
-August 28-30: “Rivalry Week” round two that sees the LA Galaxy travel to San Jose’s new stadium, the reverse fixture of the Cascadia Cup, and DC United traveling north to New York Red Bulls.
-The final day of the regular season will feature flex scheduling that could see all teams play at the same time much like many European leagues do on the final day.
-The MLS Cup playoffs will span across three months, beginning on October 25. They will break for an international period from November 9-17, and then resume play with the conference championships. The MLS Cup finals do not have a set date yet, and will be held on either December 5/6 or December 12/13.