MLS announces 2021 season start and preseason dates

Major League Soccer has announced the start of the 2021 Regular Season on Saturday, April 3rd. Teams may begin preseason on February 22nd.

The league has also branded the opening of play “MLS is back.”

According to MLS, they will announce the complete schedule – including the national broadcast schedule in the U.S. and Canada – in the coming weeks.

MLS clubs also will participate in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Canadian Championship and Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League in 2021. 

Key Dates

  • Feb. 22: MLS Preseason training begins (6 weeks)
  • Apr. 3-4: MLS is Back – Opening Weekend 2021
  • Late Aug.: Rivalry Week
  • Late summer: MLS All-Star Game, Leagues Cup, Campeones Cup
  • Nov. 7: MLS Decision Day (Final od regular-season)
  • Nov. 19: 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs begin
  • Dec. 11: 2021 MLS Cup

Competition Notes

  • 34 matches for each of the league’s 27 clubs.
  • 14 teams in the Eastern Conference and 13 in the Western Conference.
  • Austin FC in the Western Conference
Western ConferenceEastern Conference
Austin FC Atlanta United
Colorado Rapids Chicago Fire FC
FC Dallas   FC Cincinnati
Houston Dynamo FCColumbus Crew SC
Sporting Kansas City  D.C. United
LA Galaxy Inter Miami CF 
Los Angeles Football Club CF Montréal 
Minnesota United FC Nashville SC
Portland TimbersNew England Revolution
Real Salt Lake  New York City FC
San Jose Earthquakes New York Red Bulls
Seattle Sounders FC Orlando City SC
Vancouver Whitecaps FCPhiladelphia Union
Toronto FC

Covid Response

  • In accordance with MLS health and safety protocols, players will be required to quarantine and conduct individual training upon reporting back to their clubs for the start of preseason.
  • During the regular season, all players, technical staff, and essential club staff will continue to be tested every other day, including the day before each matchday.
  • Clubs will take chartered flights for all road trips until further notice.
  • Due to travel restrictions between the US and Canada, three Canadian clubs regarding plans for the 2021 regular season are TBD.

The Elephant in the Room

AKA – Discussions with MLSPA

MLS continues to meet with the Major League Soccer Players Association and players to discuss working together to put MLS on a secure footing given the unprecedented impact of COVID-19. On Jan. 5 MLS presented the MLSPA with a proposal that committed to paying the players 100% of their salaries this year, in return for a two-year extension of the MLS Collective Bargaining Agreement. The MLSPA provided a response to the league’s proposal Jan. 23. Although no agreement has been reached, MLS is committed to meet as many times as necessary with the MLSPA in the coming days to finalize an agreement.


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