Today, Major League Soccer announced the home openers for all 18 MLS teams during the upcoming 2011 season.
MLS (first) First Kick will take place in the Pacific Northwest, where Seattle Sounders will host Los Angeles Galaxy, the side that wiped them from the face of the 2010 MLS Playoffs, on Tuesday, March 15 at 8:30 CT.
Sporting KC will play the first of their eight-to-ten game season-opening road trip that Saturday, March 19 at 9:30 p.m. CT at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, not against the Galaxy, but against 2010 second-to-bottom side Chivas USA.
The following weekend, Saturday, March 26 at 3:00 p.m. CT, SKC will travel to Toyota Park for the home opener of Chicago Fire.
The home opener at the brand new KC Soccer Stadium, as previously announced by team president Robb Heineman, will take place on Thursday night, June 9. Heineman also said that the game will be shown as the MLS Game of the Week on the ESPN network. We now know that the first game in the new stadium will be against the same Chicago Fire.
Interestingly enough, SKC managed to beat each of the two teams once in 2010, but neither win came at home. The then-Wizards managed a comeback draw against Chicago at CommunityAmerica Ballpark in mid-May. Then, two months later, the team dropped all three points against a bad Chivas side in one of the Wiz's worst performances of the season. KC then went on to beat each of Chicago and Chivas 2-0 on the road.
As far as the season-opening road trip goes, it will be fairly nice to knock out one cross-country road trip early in the season when games will be a bit more spread out. Once the home opener is played, there will likely be a few mid-week/weekend double dips, so it's better to get one of the longer trips in MLS out of the way before that point.
As far as a big time name recognition season-opener goes, I'm not sure there is a club in MLS with a lesser profile than the Goats of Chivas. As far as competition and picking up as many points from eight-to-ten on the road goes, we couldn't ask for a much better matchup to start off with three likely points. I hope former Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad is ready to go that night.
Here's to hoping the rest of the road trip to start the season will include a return to trip to LA for the Galaxy, along with visits to places like New York, Portland, Vancouver and/or Seattle during the months of April and May.