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March 2018
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‘MLS’ Articles

Pro Soccer

MLS readies for Week 2 of young season; Crew SC to host Montreal in home opener


This Week in MLS – March 5, 2018
  • Asad faces former club as D.C. United has Atlanta’s number
  • NYCFC to host 24-hour soccer match in Rockefeller Center ahead of match against LA Galaxy
  • LAFC looks to add to dream start, visits Real Salt Lake
  • After shocking defending champs, Crew SC square off against Montreal
  • MLS trio dives into CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals
  • Young newcomers make immediate difference in Opening Week
  • Offseason transactions prove valuable in first week
  • 2018 Roster Rules, Competition Guidelines
  • MLS Week 2: Match Notes

Asad faces former club as D.C. United has Atlanta’s number
D.C. United is coming off its best start in three seasons, and with some new personnel, the club could be channeling the 2015 success that led to a fourth-place Eastern Conference finish and a spot in the playoffs. With newly acquired midfielder Yamil Asad facing his former Atlanta United team, the pacey wide player comes into the match with continued confidence after scoring in consecutive season openers. The two clubs faceoff on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (3 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes).

Atlanta United, meanwhile, will be looking to rebound from a tough 4-0 loss suffered at the hands of the Houston Dynamo on the road last week. Atlanta will be looking for its first win over D.C. United in club history, with the backing of a potential sellout crowd in what will be the first of four matches this season with Mercedes-Benz Stadium open to its full capacity.

NYCFC to host 24-hour soccer match in Rockefeller Center ahead of match against LA Galaxy
In celebration of the start of the 2018 season, New York City FC will host a 24-hour soccer match at the world-famous Rockefeller Center, pitting teams managed by Head CoachPatrick Vieira and star forward David Villa against each other. Team Villa and Team Vieira will kick off on Friday, March 9 at 4 p.m. ET and conclude their marathon match at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 10. The event is open to the public.

NYCFC will then host its first home match of the season on Sunday, welcoming the LA Galaxy to Yankee Stadium (5 p.m. ET). Both clubs impressed in the opening week of play with victories powered by club newcomers. NYCFC 20-year-old Jesús Medina scored a goal and added an assist in a 2-0 victory at Sporting Kansas City, forming a dangerous attack with fellow Designated Players Maxi Moralez and Villa. Ola Kamara, meanwhile paired with Jonathan dos Santos and Romain Alessandrini in a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers, scoring a goal in his first match with the Galaxy.

LAFC looks to add to dream start, visits Real Salt Lake
The Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) scripted a perfect start to their first MLS campaign with a victory in their debut against 2017 MLS Cup runners-up Seattle Sounders FC. They will be put to the test again heading into altitude to face Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium (3:30 p.m. ET / Univision).

LAFC stole the show Sunday when the club blanked Seattle 1-0 in front of 40,070 at CenturyLink Field. Head coach Bob Bradley, who led the 1998 MLS Cup champion Chicago Fire to a season-opening victory in that club’s debut, saw his LAFC roster follow suit. LAFC’s first signing, Mexican international Carlos Vela, set up Uruguayan Diego Rossi(who turned 20 today) for the organization’s first goal – a 23-yard strike placed perfectly inside the right post. Coupled with Tyler Miller earning a clean sheet against his former Seattle side, LAFC meshed from the get-go.

The 2018 newcomers now take on a Real Salt Lake club that features an intriguing blend of youth – such as 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup players Justen Glad and Danny Acosta – and veteran leadership in goalkeeper Nick Rimando and midfielder Kyle Beckerman. RSL nearly pulled off a strong road result this past weekend through a first-half goal by Joao Plata, only to concede an own goal in the closing minutes.

A former expansion side itself in 2005, Real Salt Lake are looking to revive their status as a staple in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, coming off a 2017 in which the club narrowly missed the postseason for just the second time over the previous 10 seasons.

After shocking defending champs, Crew SC square off against Montreal
Columbus Crew SC opened 2018 with a vengeance, unseating the defending champions Toronto FC on the road. Crew SC will look to keep that form going when they host another Canadian side, the Montreal Impact, on Saturday at Mapfre Stadium (1 p.m. ET / TVA Sports, CTV).

Former LA Galaxy striker Gyasi Zardes, traded to Columbus during the offseason, tallied in his Crew SC debut to lead Columbus to a 2-0 win against Toronto this past Saturday.Federico Higuaín shared the spotlight with the first goal of the 2018 MLS Regular Season, and the veteran Designated Player will remain a key focal point when he goes up against fellow Argentina native Ignacio Piatti of Montreal. Piatti, the Impact’s team MVP for the past three seasons, has posted back-to-back 17-goal seasons and hopes to open his scoring account in Columbus.

Montreal is coming off a 2-1 loss at Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Italian striker Matteo Mancosu contributed the lone Impact goal – an 81st-minute header to keep Montreal in the match in the closing moments.

Columbus swept the season series against the Impact in 2017, winning by a combined 7-3 margin in their two meetings. The last match included a brace from Higuaín en route to a 4-1 Crew SC victory on June 24, 2017.

MLS trio dives into CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals
Three MLS clubs return to action this week as the quarterfinals of CONCACAF Champions will be in full swing with an exciting slate of games between MLS and Liga MX foes. The New York Red Bulls, who had an opening-week bye in MLS play, visit Club Tijuana on Tuesday, while Toronto FC and Seattle Sounders FC look to shake off home losses when they host Tigres UANL and Chivas de Guadalajara, respectively, on Wednesday. Toronto FC, the 2018 MLS Cup winners, host Apertura 2017 champions Tigres UANL, the Liga MX side that has earned back-to-back CCL runner-up finishes in 2016 and 2017. The CCL tournament winner qualifies for the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup hosted by the United Arab Emirates in December.

Leg 1 quarterfinal previews:

  • Club Tijuana vs. New York Red Bulls (Tuesday, 10 p.m. ET / Univision Deportes Network; – The Red Bulls travel to Tijuana, Mexico, for the opening leg at Estadio Caliente. NYRB earned a 3-1 aggregate victory against Olimpia of Honduras in the Round of 16. A second-half goal from Bradley Wright-Phillips proved to be the series winner as the Red Bulls went on to a 2-0 victory in the second leg on March 1. Xolos advanced with a 2-1 aggregate victory against Honduran side FC Motagua. Tijuana’s best CCL run was in 2014, when Xolos reached the semifinal stage.
  • Toronto FC vs. Tigres UANL (Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET / Univision Deportes Network; – One of the most anticipated quarterfinal matchups pits two defending league champions going head-to-head. Toronto FC, winners of the 2018 MLS Cup, host Apertura 2017 victors Tigres UANL at BMO Field. Toronto’s MLS title defense started off with a hiccup – a 2-0 loss to Columbus Crew SC on Saturday – but the Reds have a chance to turn the tide in CCL action. Toronto advanced past fellow MLS side the Colorado Rapids 2-0 on aggregate in the Round of 16. Jonathan Osorio and  Sebastian Giovinco each provided a goal in the first leg on Feb. 20 in Commerce City, Colo. Tigres defeated Costa Rican side Herediano 5-3 on aggregate in the Round of 16. Enner Valencia ultimately was the difference maker with a second-half brace to earn a 3-1 victory in Leg 2 on Feb. 27, after the sides had drawn 2-2 in the opening leg one week earlier. Tigres have earned CCL runner-up finishes in the past two editions of the tournament; Toronto was a CCL semifinalist in 2012.
  • Seattle Sounders FC vs. Chivas de Guadalajara (Wednesday, 10 p.m. ET / Univision Deportes Network; – Seattle posted one of the strongest halves of CCL action this year to advance to the quarterfinals and now takes on one of the most historic clubs in Mexican football, Chivas. The Sounders built some CCL momentum through Uruguayan Nicolás Lodeiro , who tallied in both games during the Round of 16 to lead the Sounders to a 5-2 aggregate victory against Honduras side Santa Tecla FC. Chivas had a smooth Round of 16, easily dispatching Cuba side Cibao FC with a 7-0 aggregate victory. Guadalajara owns the distinction of winning the first CONCACAF competition – the 1962 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup – which ran in that format through 2008. Chivas have yet to reach the final in the CCL format; Seattle advanced to the CCL semifinals in 2013.

Leg 2 quarterfinal schedule:
Tuesday, March 13

  • New York Red Bulls vs. Club Tijuana (8 p.m. ET / Univision Deportes Network;
  • Tigres UANL vs. Toronto FC (10 p.m. ET / Univision Deportes Network;

Wednesday, March 14

  • Chivas de Guadalajara vs. Seattle Sounders FC (10 p.m. ET / Univision Deportes Network;

Young newcomers make immediate difference in Opening Week
Following an exciting opening week of MLS action, a number of clubs across the league have reason to celebrate the play of dynamic young newcomers. Three Designated Players of 20 years of age or younger dazzled in their first matches in MLS, as Los Angeles Football Club’s Diego Rossi, New York City FC’s Jesús Medina, and Columbus Crew SC’s Milton Valenzuela helped their clubs to victory in the first week of the season.

LAFC captured a 1-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC in its first ever MLS match, with two Designated Players in Mexican National Team midfielder Carlos Vela and Rossi linking for abeautiful goal in the early moments of the contest. The Uruguayan, who celebrated his 20thbirthday today, scored the fastest goal ever for an expansion club in its first match, also helping LAFC to become the second expansion club ever to win its first road game.

Medina, meanwhile, assisted on NYCFC’s first goal of the season then put the ball into the back of the net to complete a 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City in what proved to be a complete performance for the 20-year-old Paraguay National Team player. Rounding out the group of exciting newcomers was 19-year-old Argentine defender Milton Valenzuela, whoassisted with a precise cross on Federico Higuaín’s header in the opening goal of the 2018 season.

Offseason transactions prove valuable in first week
After some head-turning, offseason movement, several high-profile players are paying immediate dividends for their new clubs.

Stalwart forwards Gyasi Zardes and Ola Kamara were featured in one of the most talked about trades of the year, and it has already proven fruitful for all parties involved. Back from injury, Zardes spent his former five seasons with the LA Galaxy before the January trade sent him to Columbus Crew SC. Returning to fine finishing form, Zardes scored a goal last weekend to help seal a shutout 2-0 victory over last year’s MLS Cup champions on the road.

Ola Kamara, a former Columbus frontman with 18 goals and three assists last season, was on the other side of that trade. Traveling west to join the Galaxy, Kamara wasted no time getting back on the scoresheet with a goal in the 32nd minute to spark LA’s 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers.

Midfielder Yamil Asad has come surging out of the gates for a second straight season to again net his club’s first goal of a new campaign. Last year, Asad recorded Atlanta United’s first-ever goal during their inaugural match, and the now-D.C. United box-to-box midfielder has given the Black-and-Red a new energy that could mean all the difference.

Journeyman Kei Kamara joined Vancouver Whitecaps FC from the New England Revolution, marking the eighth time he has started for a new MLS club. Kamara found the back of the net in a season opener for the first time since his first MLS goal in Sporting Kansas City’s 2010 season-opener, and the positives continue with his first win in a season-opening appearance since 2012.

On the defensive front, goalkeeper Tyler Miller moved from Seattle Sounders FC to the Los Angeles Football Club as the No.1 overall pick in the 2017 Expansion Draft, and recorded his first career regular season shutout against his former team in LAFC’s 1-0 victory over Seattle on Sunday.

2018 Roster Rules, Competition Guidelines
With the start of a new season, 2018 MLS Roster Rules and Regulations and 2018 MLS Competition Guidelines are available on

Among the roster updates, MLS clubs will receive 100 percent of the corresponding transfer or loan fee revenue from any transaction involving a Homegrown Player (regardless of service years). A significant instance of this new change included the Montreal Impact’s transfer of Ballou Tabla to FC Barcelona in late January.

New to Competition Guidelines in 2018, a Venue Medical Director (VMD) will be stationed at the fourth official’s table to make the final medical decision in a match for players on both the Home and Visiting Teams.

MLS Week 2: Match Notes
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Columbus Crew SC vs. Montreal Impact, 1 p.m. (CTV / TSN / TVA)

  • Crew SC won their season opener for the first time since 2014, getting goals from Federico Higuaín and Gyasi Zardes for a 2-0 win against defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC at BMO Field.
  • The goal was the 49th of his MLS career for Higuaín, who also has 49 assists in league play. Eighteen players in MLS history have hit for 50 goals and added 50 assists.
  • The Impact opened their campaign with a 2-1 defeat by Vancouver Whitecaps FC in their season opener, spoiling the MLS coaching debut of Rémi Garde. Matteo Mancosu scored the lone Impact goal.
  • Crew SC won both meetings a year ago, a 3-2 win May 13 at Stade Saputo, and a 4-1 victory June 24 in Columbus.
  • The Impact last won in the series on April 9. 2016, a 2-0 win in Montréal. Crew SC have won two of the four meetings since, with two draws.

New England Revolution vs. Colorado Rapids, 1:30 p.m.

  • The Revolution opened their 2018 season with a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium, winless in their season openers since 2013.
  • The Rapids kick off their 2018 season at New England, but they have already faced MLS opposition in competitive matches, falling 2-0 on aggregate to Toronto FC in the round-of-16 of the CONCACAF Champions League.
  • The Rapids won the lone meeting between the clubs a year ago, a 1-0 victory to open the season March 4 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
  • The win was the first for the Rapids vs. the Revolution since 2013, when they had also scored their last goal against New England. The Revs won the three games in between, by a combined 7-0 scoreline.
  • The Rapids have not won in Foxborough since 2010. The Revolution have won three of the four home meetings since, with one draw.

Real Salt Lake vs. Los Angeles Football Club, 3:30 p.m. (Univisión / UDN)

  • Real got their first goal of the 2018 season from Joao Plata, but a late own goal drew them back into a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas in their season opener at Toyota Stadium.
  • Real did extend their undefeated streak in season openers to nine matches, dating back to the 2010 season, playing to a draw to start the campaign for a fourth consecutive year.
  • LAFC opened their history with a 1-0 win against Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field, becoming the second expansion team in MLS history to win their inaugural match on the road. The first: Chicago Fire, 1998. The head coach of that team: Bob Bradley, current LAFC head coach.
  • Diego Rossi scored the first goal in LAFC victory for the game-winner, after 11 minutes, matching the fastest goal ever scored by an expansion team. The first: Fredy Montero, for Seattle Sounders FC, in their 3-0 win vs. New York Red Bulls in their first MLS match in 2009.

Houston Dynamo vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 6 p.m. (TSN)

  • The Dynamo are undefeated in their last seven season openers, rolling to a 4-0 win against Atlanta United at BBVA Compass Stadium. It was the third time in 13 season openers the Dynamo have scored at least four goals.
  • The Dynamo goals came from four players from four different countries: Philippe Senderos (Switzerland), Mauro Manotas (Colombia), Darwin Ceren (El Salvador) and Andrew Wenger (USA).
  • Alphonso Davies became the 11th-youngest goalscorer in MLS history in netting his first league goal for the eventual game-winner for Whitecaps FC, as they opened the season with a 2-0 win against the Montréal Impact at BC Place. Kei Kamara also scored in his Whitecaps FC debut.
  • The teams split their two meetings last season, each winning 2-1 at home, the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium on May 12, and Whitecaps FC on Aug. 19 at BC Place. The road team has never won in the all-time series between the teams – the Dynamo are 4-0-1 vs. Vancouver in Houston; the ‘Caps are 6-0-1 vs. the Dynamo in B.C.

Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City, 6 p.m.

  • Sporting won the lone encounter between the clubs last season, a 3-2 victory July 29 at Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting have now won the last four meetings between the teams in KC, the Fire’s last win there coming in 2012 (six meetings).
  • The Fire have won the last three meetings between the teams at Toyota Park, including a 1-0 win in 2016 in the last matchup in Bridgeview. Sporting haven’t won at the Fire since 2013.
  • The Fire kick off their 2018 season after concluding their preseason preparations with a 2-1 win against USL affiliate Tulsa Roughnecks last weekend. The Fire ended their preseason campaign with four wins and two draws in seven matches, with a win against Orlando City SC, a draw with the Philadelphia Union, and the lone loss to the Montréal Impact.
  • Sporting lost to open the season for the first time since 2014, dropping their season opener 2-0 to New York City FC at Children’s Mercy Park.

New York Red Bulls vs. Portland Timbers, 7 p.m.

  • The Red Bulls will open their 2018 league campaign after facing Club Tijuana of Mexico in the first leg of their quarterfinal series in the CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday at Estadio Caliente in Tijuana. The Red Bulls advanced to the quarterfinals after defeating CD Olimpia of Honduras 3-1 on aggregate in the round of 16.
  • The Timbers started their 2018 campaign with a loss, falling 2-1 to the LA Galaxy on Sunday evening at StubHub Center. It was the first time since the Timbers’ inaugural MLS season of 2011 they have opened the season with a loss. Portland opening’s goal of the season came from Sebastian Blanco.
  • The Timbers won the lone meeting between the teams last season, a 2-0 win Aug. 18 at Providence Park. It was the Timbers’ first victory in the series since 2014; the Red Bulls had won on their last trip to Portland in 2016.
  • The Red Bulls have not defeated the Timbers at Red Bull Arena since 2012; the Timbers have come away with a win and a draw on their last two trips to Harrison, including reaching a scoreless draw in the last encounter there in 2016.

Orlando City SC vs. Minnesota United FC, 7:30 p.m.

  • Kevin Molino scored a pair of goals, but Minnesota United went down to defeat in their 2018 season opener, falling 3-2 to the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium. It was the fourth time in MNUFC’s MLS history a player scored a pair of goals; Molino also did it last May 13 vs. Toronto FC.
  • Stefano Pinho netted his first career MLS goal in dramatic fashion, hitting for the equalizer in stoppage time to give OCSC a 1-1 draw with D.C. United in their season opener at Orlando City Stadium. OCSC have yet to lose a match to open the campaign in their four MLS seasons.
  • Minnesota United claimed victory in the lone meeting between the teams in MNUFC’s inaugural season, the game’s lone goal coming from Christian Ramírez for the victory May 27 at TCF Bank Stadium.

Sunday, March 11, 2018
Atlanta United vs. D.C. United, 3 p.m. (ESPN)

  • D.C. United won all three meetings between the teams in Atlanta United’s inaugural season, taking a 3-1 win in the first matchup April 30 at Bobby Dodd Stadium, then claiming wins by 2-1 (June 21) and 1-0 (Aug. 23) at RFK Stadium.
  • Atlanta United went down to a 4-0 defeat to the Houston Dynamo on Saturday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium open their second MLS season. Atlanta United did not allow more than three goals in any game in their inaugural MLS campaign.
  • Yamil Asad – acquired by D.C. United from Atlanta United in the offseason – netted his club’s goal of the campaign, but D.C. United were pulled back into a late 1-1 draw at Orlando City SC to start off their 2018 campaign.

New York City FC vs. LA Galaxy, 5 p.m.

  • New York City FC started off their season with an impressive victory, getting goals from Maximiliano Moralez and Jésus Medina on their way to a 2-0 win against Sporting Kansas City at Children’s Mercy Park.
  • The Galaxy kicked off their new season with a victory, Ola Kamara and Romain Alessandrini netting goals in a 2-1 win against the Portland Timbers at StubHub Center.
  • NYCFC have won two of the three meetings all-time between the teams, coming over the last two seasons, including a 2-0 victory last Aug. 12 at StubHub Center in the lone meeting between the teams. NYCFC has won the only matchup between the clubs at Yankee Stadium, a 1-0 win Aug. 20, 2016.


MLS and China Sports Media announce agreement to stream MLS matches live

Partnership will allow live streaming of MLS matches in Mainland China

Agreement includes streaming of regular season games, MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, and MLS Cup rights via K-Ball and PPTV
NEW YORK (March 2, 2018) – Major League Soccer (MLS) announced today that it has partnered with China Sports Media (CSM), a leading sports marketing agency, to offer live coverage of League matches throughout China with the premier streaming video platforms, K-Ball and PPTV.

  • To download accompanying logos and photos as part of this announcement, please click here

The two-year partnership, which marks the first time CSM will have MLS rights, covers distribution of at least three regular season matches per week on K-Ball and one regular season match per week on PPTV, as well as the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, Decision Day Presented by AT&T, Audi MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup.  In addition, CSM will distribute weekly highlights, player features and other MLS content across the platforms. This new partnership creates a unique opportunity to increase MLS’ exposure across the world’s most populous country.

“We are excited to partner with CSM, and to have Major League Soccer reach Mainland China via the K-Ball and PPTV platforms,” said Gary Stevenson, President and Managing Director, MLS Business Ventures.  “MLS is coming off another record year in attendance, viewership and digital growth, this partnership is yet another example of our efforts to continue that growth worldwide.  China is a priority market, and we are confident that CSM will help expand our presence in the region and deliver MLS content to fans throughout the country.”

“With the worldwide development of Major League Soccer over the years, it has become one of the most important leagues in the world and CSM is glad to partner with MLS. We are confident that MLS will become one of the most popular leagues in China through our best efforts,” said Mrs. Zhao Jun, General Manager of CSM.

MLS’ global footprint reaches over 170 countries and territories worldwide. Global partners broadcasting MLS matches include Sky Sports in the United Kingdom, Eurosport across Europe, Globosat in Brazil, Abu Dhabi Media in the Middle East and North Africa, beIN SPORTS across Southeast Asia and Australia, FOX Sports Latin America and FOX Sports Africa, Sportcast in Taiwan, StarHub in Singapore, R-Media in Honduras, DSport in India, TVNZ Duke in New Zealand and ESPN International. Domestic partnerships with ESPN, FOX Sports, Univision, TSN and TVA Sports provide broadcasts of MLS matches throughout the United States and Canada.

IMG, Major League Soccer’s global media rights agent since 2015, facilitated the agreement.

About Major League Soccer
Headquartered in New York City, Major League Soccer features 23 clubs throughout the United States and Canada. The 23rd MLS season kicks off March 3. For more information about MLS, visit

About CSM
CSM is the leading full-service sports company in China, covering sports marketing, sports media rights operation, world feed production, etc. CSM’s media rights and production covers CSL, Team China, AFC Competitions, CFA Cup. CSM also has a data company that provides professional data services for various clients.




MLS suspends Union’s Picault and Orlando City SC’s da Silva for using offensive language

Fafà Picault Philadelphia Union 2017 photo By Noah Salzman - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https

Pierre da Silva Orlando City SC 2017 photo playing with Orlando City SC B team By Hayden Schiff from Cincinnati, USA, CC BY 2.0, https

During preseason scrimmage

NEW YORK (March 2, 2018) – Major League Soccer today announced that Philadelphia Union midfielder Fabrice-Jean “Fafà” Picault and Orlando City SC midfielder Pierre da Silva each have been issued a three-game suspension and fined an undisclosed amount for use of offensive language during a preseason, doubleheader, closed-door scrimmage on February 14.

Picault will serve his three-game suspension during the Union’s matches on March 3 against the New England Revolution, March 17 against Columbus Crew SC, and March 31 against the Colorado Rapids. Orlando’s da Silva will serve his three-game suspension during matches on March 3 against D.C. United, March 10 against Minnesota United FC, and March 17 against New York City FC.

MLS has a zero tolerance policy against offensive, discriminatory language at its games (including pre-season games and scrimmages), and is committed to creating an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity.




MLS preparing for 2018 season as teams are in preseason camps

This Week in MLS – January 22, 2018
  • MLS Preseason underway as 23 clubs prep for highly anticipated 2018 campaign
  • U.S. MNT friendly to prime MLS players for preseason

MLS Preseason underway as 23 clubs prep for highly anticipated 2018 campaign
MLS clubs officially delved into the preseason rigors on Monday as the 23-team league gears up for its 23rd campaign in 2018. Expansion Los Angeles Football Club joins the fray this year, with several of their preseason matches being held at UCLA against MLS opponents, including defending MLS champions Toronto FC (Feb. 2), Eastern Conference regular-season runners-up New York City FC (Feb. 9) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC (Feb. 18), which finished third in the West last year. Elsewhere, a mix of preseason staples – as well as an enticing tournament between MLS sides and the J1 League (Japan) – will make for an exciting stretch heading into MLS Opening Weekend on  March 3-4.

  • The preseason competition calendar will be continually updated on

The Mobile Mini Sun Cup in Tucson, Ariz. – formerly dubbed the Desert Diamond Cup – is one of the most extensive events on the calendar with 11 MLS teams slated to take part in the Feb. 3-24 tournament. Participants include the Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, the Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC and Sporting Kansas City. Houston is the defending champion, continuing a streak with seven different MLS clubs winning the previous editions of this tournament.

The Carolina Challenge Cup has been a well-known preseason fixture over the years. Hosted by the United Soccer League’s Charleston Battery, this year’s tournament features MLS second-year sides Atlanta United and Minnesota United FC and defending tournament champions Columbus Crew SC. Games take place on Feb. 17, 21 and 24.

The USL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies also host a strong MLS-heavy event in Clearwater and St. Petersburg, Fla., with the Rowdies Suncoast Invitational. The event, now in its third edition, includes matches on Feb. 17, 21 and 24, and is headlined with three MLS sides: the Montreal Impact, Philadelphia Union and New York City FC.

A new tournament on the docket is the Pacific Rim Cup at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, with Crew SC and Vancouver heading out into the Pacific to square off against Japanese sides Iwaki FC and Consadole Sapporo on Feb. 8 and 10.

U.S. MNT friendly to prime MLS players for preseason
With a fresh-faced U.S. roster that’s chock-full of MLS up-and-comers, the U.S. Men’s National Team will match up against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 at StubHub Center in Carson, California (9:30 p.m. ET, FS1 / UniMás / UDN).

In very high representation ahead of the first U.S. MNT friendly this year, 29 of 30 January Camp call-ups have ties to MLS, including 15 players from MLS academies and the 10 camp debutants, all of which hail from MLS clubs. D.C. United, the New England Revolution, Real Salt Lake, and MLS Cup champions Toronto FC have each contributed a league-high three players to the stars and stripes for this occasion.

Included among that mix are RSL’s standout academy products forward Brooks Lennonand defenders Danny Acosta and Justen Glad alongside Columbus Crew SC goalkeeperZack Steffen, who had a breakout postseason, New England Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe, and 2017 MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara from Sporting KC.

Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono, defender Justin Morrow, and midfielder Marky Delgadoare fresh off arguably the best team and best campaign in MLS history, as they highlight the strong contingent of players prepping for this international test as a lead-in to preseason back with their clubs.



Toronto FC crowned 2017 Major League Soccer Champions



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