Expanding MLS books March 2 kickoff for 2019 campaign

New York (AFP) –


Major League Soccer welcomes expansion side FC Cincinnati to the competition when the 2019 campaign opens on March 2 with 10 games, the league announced on Thursday.

The 10-match opening-day slate will find the MLS newcomers, the league's 24th club for its 24th season, debuting at Seattle with their second match a March 10 visit to Atlanta United for the reigning MLS champion's home season opener.

Not until Match 17 against Portland, who lost to Atlanta in the MLS Cup final earlier this month, will FC Cincinnati players make their MLS home debut.

The season's first MLS kickoff will come when the Philadelphia Union entertain Toronto FC in an afternoon contest on March 2.

The first match in Canada will come later on March 2 when the Vancouver Whitecaps welcome Minnesota United.

Atlanta United will open its bid to repeat as champions on March 3 at DC United.

Minnesota United will open a new home stadium, the 20th built or renovated specifically for an MLS side, on April 13 when New York City FC visits.

The Portland Timbers, whose park is undergoing renovations to add 4,000 seats, have the latest home opener in 2019, a June 1 date with Los Angeles FC after three months on the road.

Each club will play 34 matches, 17 at home, and face each conference rival twice and each team from the opposite conference once, with the full schedule to be announced next month.

MLS has plans for expansion clubs in Miami and Nashville in future seasons and a 27th team in Austin, Texas, is expected in 2020 or 2021.