The2021 Major League Soccer (MLS) season kicked off this past weekend with the Houston Dynamo’s beating the San Jose Earthquakes 2 – 1 in the opening game during which JT Marcinkowski scored the first goal of the season. Shortly thereafter, Seattle Sounders beat Minnesota United 4 – 1, while Orlando City SC and Atlanta United ended in a goalless draw.
The MLS is a men’s professional soccer league sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation, which represents the sport’s highest level in the United States and Canada. Most matches are broadcast live on ESPN (DStv 218) or ESPN2 (DStv 219) across Africa with frequent repeats to accommodate for time zone differences.
Here are eleven things you need to know about America’s top soccer league:
- Twenty seven teams will compete in the 2021 season, which was delayed by seven weeks due to the global pandemic. All players were required to quarantine and undergo medical examinations prior to kick-off this year.
- MLS includes an Eastern Conference and Western Conference, with fourteen and thirteen teams competing in each conference respectively this year. The top seven sides from each Conference will qualify for the MLS playoffs in which they will compete in a knockout format. The two winners respective winners from each conference will then advance to the MLS Cup Final for the right to be crowned MLS Champions.
- Austin FC will play its inaugural season this year. The club’s sporting director is former United States international Claudio Reyna, while another United States Men’s National Team star Josh Wolff will coach the team. Actor Matthew McConaughey is one of the part-owners of the new franchise.
- Columbus Crew are the reigning cup-holders, having defeated Seattle Sounders 3 – 0 in the 2020 final. This is their second MLS Cup title won at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
- Los Angeles Galaxy hold the record for most MLS Cup titles, having won five times in nine appearances.
- MLS’ all-time leading scorer is Chris Wondolowski. The 38 year old forward, who currently plays for San Jose Earthquakes, has scored 164 times since playing in the MLS league.
- The current title holder of the most valuable player (MVP) award, which is bestowed upon an individual as the most performing player (or players) in the entire league, is Spaniard Alejandro Pozuelo. He plays for Toronto Football Club.
- The three Canadian teams, Toronto FC, CF Montreal and the Vancouver Whitecaps, will begin their 2021 seasons playing in the United States amid ongoing travel restrictions. It remains unknown how long they’ll have to wait before their matches are held in Canada again.
- The 2021 season will culminate with the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs, which will begin on 19 November, and conclude with MLS Cup 2021, which will be played on 11 December 2021. This match will be broadcast live on ESPN across Africa.
- The MLS is home to a number of high profile footballers including Carlos Vela (LAFC), Javier Hernandez (LA Galaxy), Blaise Matuidi and Gonzalo Higuain (both Inter Miami), Nani and Alexandre Pato (both Orlando City) and Josef Martinez (Atlanta United).
- The league continues to impressively expand their numbers with two new franchises slated to start play in 2022. MLS will welcome Charlotte FC and St. Louis City SC into the fold bringing the total number of clubs up to 29.
Here are the details of some very exciting MLS matches taking place this weekend NOW with the repeats included.
|Date||Start Time||Match||Live / Repeat||Channel|
|”2021-04-24”||19:00||New York City FC – FC Cincinnati||Live||ESPN|
|”2021-04-24”||21:00||Toronto FC – Vancouver Whitecaps||Live||ESPN|
|”2021-04-24”||24:00||LAFC – Seattle Sounders||Live||ESPN|
|”2021-04-25”||06:00||Toronto FC – Vancouver Whitecaps||Repeat||ESPN|
|”2021-04-25”||08:10||LAFC – Seattle Sounders||Repeat||ESPN|
|”2021-04-25”||24:00||LA Galaxy – New York Red Bulls||Live||ESPN|
|”2021-04-26”||10:35||LA Galaxy – New York Red Bulls||Repeat||ESPN|
|”2021-04-26”||18:10||LA Galaxy – New York Red Bulls||Repeat||ESPN|
“ESPN continues to deliver on its promise to bring the best American sporting content to fans across the African continent by broadcasting the MLS” says Evert van der Veer, Vice President, Media Networks, The Walt Disney Company Africa. “Whether you are into MLS after-dark appointment viewing or prefer to watch in more regular hours, ESPN delivers the most nail-biting action from this premium US-soccer tournament with both live matches and repeats” he added.
For updates from the world of American and other sports, fans can connect to @ESPNAfrica on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit https://www.espn.com/.