If there is one thing Seattle has shown in the Sounders FC’s first four years in Major League Soccer, it is that the city knows how to hold a soccer celebration.
In each of the club’s first four years, the Sounders FC opened the MLS regular season at CenturyLink Field and in 2013, that trend will continue.
On Tuesday, MLS announced the home openers for all 19 teams in the league and the Sounders will open at CenturyLink Field on March 2 against the Montreal Impact, putting Seattle back into the opening weekend after a one-year hiatus from MLS First Kick last year.
In each of their first three seasons, the Sounders were involved in the featured MLS match to start the season, but last year the league’s opening weekend fell between legs of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal round, so Seattle, Toronto FC and the LA Galaxy all had the first weekend off.
Seattle is 3-1-0 all-time in season openers. They won 3-0 in their inaugural match against the New York Red Bulls in 2009 and followed that up with a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union in the 2010 lid-lifter. They then lost 1-0 to the LA Galaxy in 2011, but got back into the dominating form to open the season when they toppled Toronto FC 3-1 on a hat trick by David Estrada in 2012.
In addition to Estrada’s hat trick, Fredy Montero notched two goals in the 2009 opener and added another in the 2010 opener while Brad Evans also scored in both 2009 and 2010. Montero also assisted on both of Evans’ opening night goals, contributing to his hot starts in those two seasons.
The Sounders finished the 2012 season at 15-8-11 for third in the Western Conference. The Impact finished seventh in the Eastern Conference at 12-16-6, handing the Sounders their worst defeat of the regular season with a 4-1 result at the opening of Montreal’s Saputo Stadium on June 16.
Other opening night highlights include a rematch of the 2010 MLS Cup final with FC Dallas hosting the Colorado Rapids, a Canadian rivalry match with the Vancouver Whitecaps hosting Toronto FC and a rematch of the 2012 Eastern Conference final between the Houston Dynamo and DC United at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
Sunday, March 3 will feature three high-profile matches as the San Jose Earthquakes will open defense of their Supporters’ Shield at home against Real Salt Lake, defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy will host the Chicago Fire and the Portland Timbers host the New York Red Bulls.
Toronto FC and Montreal will open their home slates away from their home stadium, with Toronto hosting Sporting Kansas City on March 9 at the Rogers Center and the Impact playing their first home match at Olympic Stadium against Toronto FC on March 16.
Following the MLS opener, Seattle will play Tigres in the Champions League quarterfinals, opening the series March 5-7 in Torreon, Mexico, and finishing on March 12-14 in Seattle.
Times and broadcast information for MLS First Kick will be announced in the coming weeks as part of the complete 2013 regular season schedule announcement. As with the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the Sounders will play 34 regular season matches in 2013.