Major League Soccer is back and the 2018 season kicks off with a bumper live offering on Sky Sports this weekend.
Toronto FC head into the 23rd MLS season as hot favourites after lifting the MLS Cup last term, but the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and David Villa will hope to inspire Chicago Fire and New York City FC to improved campaigns, while a new rivalry is brewing in Los Angeles with the arrival of expansion side LAFC.
Watch the best goals from the 2017 MLS season. Video courtesy of MLSsoccer.com
Sky Sports will broadcast at least two regular season games each week, as well as showing the MLS Cup and the All-Star game, and you will be able to see goals and highlights from every round of action on skysports.com and the Sky Sports apps.
Four live clashes mark the opening weekend live on Sky Sports – here’s what is in store…
Toronto FC v Columbus Crew (Saturday, 6pm, Sky Sports Football – Red Button – and Sky Sports Mix)
Sebastian Giovinco and Sunderland old boy Jozy Altidore starred as Toronto dominated Major League Soccer in 2017, winning an unprecedented treble and compiling the most points in history. Few would bet against them setting the pace again and a fearsome squad has been bolstered by ex-Netherlands international Gregory van der Wiel and former Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ager Aketxe.
A strong post-season run saw the Crew just miss out to Saturday’s opponents in the Eastern Conference final and though they have an early shot at some revenge here, the spotlight will fall on their forward line after the departure of 2017 top scorers Ola Kamara and Justin Meram. Can new arrival Gyasi Zardes step up?
March 3, 2018, 6:05pm
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass Orlando City v DC United (Sunday, 12.30am, Sky Sports Football)
Former Ballon d’Or winner Kaka and all-time top scorer Cyle Larin have departed, but a string of shrewd-looking acquisitions – including Sacha Kljestan and Justin Meram – have boosted hopes that this could be the season expansion side Orlando mount a genuine play-off challenge.
Kaka was moved to tears in his final game for Orlando
That will be the target of DC United after a horror show that saw them finish last in the Eastern Conference, but the smarter money might be on a mid-table finish for a side that has rebuilt on and off the pitch. Their new Audi Field stadium will not be ready until July so a string of games on the road – starting with this tough trip – looms in the first half of the campaign.
March 4, 2018, 12:30am
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles FC (Sunday, 10pm, Sky Sports Football)
Bob Bradley led Chicago Fire to a domestic double in 1998 but, after coaching stints with the USA and Egypt, as well as an ill-fated Premier League spell at Swansea, how will he fare back in Major League Soccer with new kids on the block, LAFC?
Former Arsenal forward Carlos Vela and Belgian international Laurent Ciman are standout names but Bradley’s men face a tough opener against a wily Sounders side that just came up short in their bid for back-to-back MLS Cup crowns and are expected to challenge again after keeping most of their squad intact.
March 4, 2018, 10:15pm
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass Sporting Kansas City v New York City FC (Monday, 12.30am, Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event)
Sporting KC – MLS Cup winners in 2013 – boasted the best defence in the league last season but struggled to muster enough at the top of the pitch to truly threaten last term. A focal point in attack still eludes Peter Vermes’ side, but Johnny Russell – an eye-catching arrival from Derby County – should offer better service into the box.
Jack Harrison speaks to Rob Dorsett about how much it meant flying 5,000 miles from America to play with England for the first time
New York City are the opening-weekend visitors and after being ousted in the Eastern Conference semi-finals for the second successive year, Patrick Vieira’s side are desperate to go one better. David Villa remains their main man but Andrea Pirlo has bowed out and Jack Harrison departed. Vieira is adamant Harrison’s contribution – 10 goals and six assists – can be replaced; his set-up in this clash could provide early clues to City’s chances.
March 5, 2018, 12:45am
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass
All the above are kick-off times, UK time.
Find the latest MLS news, video, fixtures and results on skysports.com/mls and the Sky Sports apps and get details of MLS games live on Sky.