The Seattle Sounders will kick off the 2020 MLS regular season with a home fixture against Chicago Fire FC. Here are four storylines to watch when the defending MLS Cup Champions square off against their Eastern Conference counterparts on Sunday, March 1 at 12 p.m. PT.
The 2020 home opener marks the first occasion in which the Sounders will don jerseys with two stars emblazoned above the crest. Defeating Toronto FC 3-1 to win the 2019 MLS Cup, the home opener also serves as the team’s first MLS match back at CenturyLink Field since winning the league championship in front of a sold-out crowd.
SEATTLE – CHICAGO TIES
There have been several notable transfers between Chicago and Seattle over the years. Winger Marco Pappa, who helped the Sounders win the Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup in 2014, got his start in MLS with the Fire, playing 76 league matches from 2009-12. The current Chicago roster also includes former Sounders midfielder Micheal Azira.
That trend has already continued this offseason, as the Sounders secured the services of up-and-coming goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland from the Fire on November 26.
Perhaps most notably, Seattle winger and left back Joevin Jones first broke into MLS with the Fire in 2015. The Rave Green then acquired the buccaneering fullback in a trade. We all know how that worked out, with the Trinidad & Tobago international helping Seattle lift two MLS Cups in three trips to the final.
NEW LOOK FIRE
Seattle picked up a commanding 4-2 victory against Chicago in their only meeting of the 2019 season. The Sounders won’t be able to glean too many lessons from that match, however, as the entire Fire organization has undergone ample turnover since then.
Off the field, the Fire have a new owner, new crest and have shifted their home venue to Soldier Field in downtown Chicago. On the field, they parted ways with head coach Velko Paunović, as well as four starters in Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nicolić, Aleksandar Katai and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Expect plenty of new faces when the Fire take the pitch at CenturyLink Field on March 1, 2020.
GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE
With the Sounders competing for continental glory in the Concacaf Champions League, the team will likely turn to youth in the early stages of the MLS regular season. Proven players like Nouhou and Jordy Delem will provide some stability, while young Homegrowns like Handwalla Bwana, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Danny Leyva will get opportunities to break into the First Team rotation.