Over its first five seasons in Major League Soccer, the start to the Sounders FC season has always come with much anticipation. Commonly, though, it has been a short build-up to that anticipation, as the schedule has typically been released in January or later.
This year, the eagerly anticipated day when fans around the league can begin making travel plans for away matches and planning vacations so as not to miss home matches came early with Monday’s schedule release. Like prior years, the Sounders FC schedule is riddled with nationally televised matches, with 13 of Seattle’s 34 regular season matches slated for appearances on the NBC and ESPN family of networks, including two over-the-air on NBC.
Seattle kicks off its sixth campaign with three of the first four matches at home, starting with the league’s season opener on March 8 against Sporting Kansas City on NBC Sports Network.
Unlike other years, when the early portion of the season has been peppered with midweek games and Sunday matches, this year Seattle’s first nine matches will all fall on consecutive Saturdays, allowing the team to get into a more rhythmic routine to start the season.
The first match against a Western Conference foe will come against the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field on April 5 in the fifth match of the season after starting with four straight against Eastern Conference opponents.
The remaining derby matches with Portland will come in the second half of the season at CenturyLink Field on July 13 and back at JELD-WEN on August 24, with both matches televised nationally on ESPN2.
Of the Western Conference opponents, Seattle will host the Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake, LA Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes twice while facing them once on the road. Likewise, Seattle will play two road matches each against the Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, FC Dallas and Chivas USA with one match against those four clubs at CenturyLink Field.
In the Eastern Conference, Seattle will face Kansas City, Toronto FC, the Columbus Crew, Philadelphia Union, and Houston Dynamo at home this year, with road trips against the Montreal Impact, New England Revolution, Chicago Fire, DC United and New York Red Bulls. Eight of the 10 matches against Eastern Conference opponents come in the first half of the season.
Like 2013, the last match against an Eastern Conference opponent comes against New York, this time on the road at Red Bull Arena on September 20.
A big component to the 2014 calendar is the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Running from June 12-July 13, the World Cup will feature several players from around MLS competing for soccer’s most coveted trophy. During that time, MLS will take two weekends off, with Seattle’s break running from June 11 to June 28.
Some other noteworthy components to the schedule:
The first half and second half have a good split of home and away matches. In the first half, Seattle will play eight matches and home and nine on the road, while in the second half, it will play nine at home and eight on the road.
Sounders FC will play two lengthy road stretches, with a three-game stretch running from April 5-19 and a four-game stretch from June 7-July 5. Similarly, Seattle will play one stretch of three straight home matches from April 26-May 7.
Sounders FC will play the San Jose Earthquakes on August 2 in the first-ever event at the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Sounders FC season tickets can be purchased by visiting SoundersFC.com or phoning 1-877-MLS-GOAL.