New spiffy stadia MLS 2021 season spotlight



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MLS 2021 season schedule Image: FC Cincinnati

The Major League Soccer (MLS) (US) 2021 regular season will start on April 17th, 2021. Apart from the opening of three major soccer stadia, the soccer showpiece will also see intense pitch rivalries and wide coverage by the electronic media outlets.

The Major League Soccer (MLS) is a men’s professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport’s highest level in the United States and Canada. The league comprises 27 teams – 24 in the US and 3 in Canada – and will expand to 30 teams by the 2023 season.
 

Spotlights

  • The ‘MLS’ stated that the high points of the 2021 MLS season will be the American professional soccer club FC Cincinnati opening its new West End Stadium on May 16th with a match against the MLS team Inter Miami CF.
     
    FC Cincinnati is an American professional soccer club based in Cincinnati, Ohio (US). The club plays in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer (MLS).
     
    The 26,000-capacity West End Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium that is under construction in Cincinnati, Ohio. It will be the home of MLS team FC Cincinnati that has been temporarily playing at the 40,000-capacity Nippert Stadium in Ohio.
  • The American professional soccer club Austin FC will debut at Q2 Stadium on June 19th with a match against MLS team San Jose Earthquakes.
     
    Austin FC is an American professional soccer club based in Austin, Texas. The club will compete in Major League Soccer as a member of the Western Conference. Founded in 2018, the club will begin play from the 2021 season. Their home stadium will be the Q2 Stadium in North Central Austin in Texas, US.
     
    The 20,500-capacity Q2 Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium under construction in the North Burnet section of North Austin, Texas. It is expected to be the home of Austin FC, a MLS team expected to start play in 2021.
  • The reigning MLS Cup champions Columbus Crew SC will open the New Crew Stadium on July 3rd with a matchup against the MLS team New England Revolution.
     
    The fixture 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.
     
    The Columbus Crew Soccer Club is an American professional soccer club based in Columbus, Ohio (US). The Crew competes in MLS as a member of the league’s Eastern Conference and began play in 1996 as one of the 10 charter clubs of the league.
     
    The New Columbus Crew stadium is a soccer-specific stadium under construction in Columbus, Ohio, United States. It will primarily serve as the new home stadium of the Columbus Crew SC of MLS, replacing the club’s previous home, Mapfre Stadium. The new stadium will cost $314 million and will be located at the center of the Astor Park development, including residential and commercial buildings. It will seat 20,000 spectators and include 30 suites and 1,900 club seats.

 

Soccer schedule

The MLS released its schedule for the 2021 season on March 24th, 2021 with each of the league’s 27 clubs set to play 34 games, 17 home and 17 away, over the course of the regular season.
 

Note: Swipe the screen (on the table below) from right to left to show all contents.
Eastern Conference Western Conference
Atlanta United Austin FC
Chicago Fire FC Colorado Rapids
FC Cincinnati FC Dallas
Columbus Crew SC Houston Dynamo FC
D.C. United Los Angeles FC
Inter Miami CF LA Galaxy
CF Montréal Minnesota United FC
Nashville SC Portland Timbers FC
New England Revolution Real Salt Lake
New York City FC San Jose Earthquakes
New York Red Bulls Seattle Sounders FC
Orlando City SC Sporting Kansas City
Philadelphia Union Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Toronto FC

 

Schedule Construction

 

Eastern Conference

  • The 14 Eastern Conference teams will play each of six regional Eastern Conference opponents three times (18 games) and the seven remaining Eastern Conference opponents twice (14 games); and
  • The Eastern Conference teams will play two cross-conference games, facing a different Western Conference opponent for each of those matches (2 games).

 

Western Conference

  • Eleven of the 13 Western Conference teams will play eight regional Western Conference opponents three times (24 games) and the remaining four Western Conference opponents twice (8 games);
  • Those 11 Western Conference teams will play two cross-conference games, facing a different Eastern Conference opponent for each of those matches (2 games);
  • Due to the odd number of clubs in the Western Conference, two Western Conference teams will have a slightly different schedule construction:
    • Those two teams will play seven Western Conference opponents three times (21 games), and the five remaining Western Conference opponents twice (10 games); and
    • They will also play three cross-conference matches against three different Eastern Conference opponents (3 games).

 

Wide coverage

The 2021 season will see a record 37 network broadcast windows across ABC, FOX and Univision and UniMás, in the U.S., with a further seven to be broadcast on CTV in Canada.
 

D-Days

‘The MLS’ further stated that 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 19th. The Major League Soccer’s championship match will be played on December 11th.
 

Regionalized season

Major League Soccer has made a strong pitch for a regionalized regular-season schedule during the 2021 campaign to avoid extensive long-distance travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic which is still taking the world by storm.

As such, MLS teams will mainly play against intra-conference rivals in a 34-game campaign until the playoffs. Teams will also take charter flights to all away games this season, an initiative carried over from last year.

New York City FC will play up to eight matches at the 25,000-capacity Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, the home of bitter rivals New York Red Bulls, due to availability issues at the 54,251-capacity Yankee Stadium, the team’s primary venue and home of Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees.

During the pandemic, many other major pro sports leagues including Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Hockey League (NHL) have similarly prioritized regionalized play in a bid to lessen severe pandemic impacts.
 

Lexus luxury

Elsewhere, Austin FC announced Lexus as the club’s official luxury vehicle ahead of its inaugural MLS season.

As part of the agreement, the Austin Lexus Dealership Association will gain the naming rights to the Lexus Club, the 11,000-square-foot premium hospitality area on the West side of Q2 Stadium, which features numerous bar and concession options.

Lexus will also gain prominent integrations during Austin FC regular season matches, hosting pre-match fan activations to engage with game attendees, and the ability to demonstrate its latest models outside the VIP entrance in the Southwest corner of Q2 Stadium.

Additionally, Austin FC players and coaches will be featured in a digital campaign called ‘Behind the Wheel’, where they will be shown around town and interacting with their new community in a Lexus.

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