The 2016 MLS season just ended and the Seattle Sounders FC are still celebrating their first championship. However, while the celebration is going on in the Emerald City, Major League Soccer just released the first games for the 2017 season for all 22 teams. Yes, 22 teams. The 2017 schedule includes the first two games for two expansion teams playing in the league for the first time.
Newcomers Minnesota FC will play their first game on the road, traveling to the Pacific Northwest to battle the Portland Timbers on March 3. Atlanta FC, the other expansion team, will start their inaugural campaign on their home pitch at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium. That match, scheduled for March 5 will be against the New York Red Bulls. In week two, Atlanta heads out on the road for their second game to visit fellow newbie Minnesota at their temporary home, the TCF Bank Stadium.
Atlanta will play at Georgia Tech until their new stadium is complete. The franchise expects the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a brand new state of the art sports venue, to be ready later this year for MLS games, according to Sports Illustrated. And speaking of new stadiums, Sophomore franchise Orlando City SC will open their new stadium on March 5 against New York City FC
The Sounders will be on the road for their first two matches of the season. They open in Texas and the Houston Dynamo before heading north of the border to face the Montreal Impact in week 2. They return to Century Link Field in Seattle to face the Red Bulls. Fans can expect that third week game to be electric as it will be the first time the Sounders take to their home pitch. Seattle fans are hoping they come in with two wins under their belts to make the homecoming
MLS runner ups, Toronto FC open up their 2017 campaign in the Rocky Mountains against Real Salt Lake on Saturday, March 4. On the other side of the Rockies, the Colorado Rapids host the New England Revolution.
Soccer is growing in popularity in the United States and it is getting easier to see quality games with more and more teams joining the league. Games are fun and typically do not last much longer than two hours. Tickets are typically very affordable compared to any other professional sport. If one has not been to a live MLS game, they should try to this season.
So, what do you think about this handful of opening games? Are you excited to see Seattle return home as champions? Are you ready for soccer in Minnesota and Atlanta? Can Colorado continue to improve and build on last season to get to the MLS Finals? Share you thoughts in the comments below.
Commentary by Cletus Dillwood