For the third straight season, the first kick of the Major League Soccer season will take place at Qwest Field, this time with Los Angeles Galaxy.
One other Sounders match was announced: March 19 at New York, in the Red Bulls' home opener.
Here's the release from the club, including this from coach Sigi Schmid: "Our team looks forward to playing the two division champions, Los Angeles and New York, in our first two games. It's a difficult task but we relish the opportunity.":
For an unprecedented third year in a row the Major League Soccer season will start in Seattle as the League announced today that Sounders FC will meet the L.A. Galaxy in First Kick 2011. The March 15 match on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field will be nationally televised by ESPN. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PT. MLS First Kick 2011 is presented by Dick's Sporting Goods.
Sounders FC will be starting its campaign against the team which eliminated the Rave Green from the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Galaxy, holders of the 2010 Supporters' Shield, won the Western Conference with the best record in MLS.
"We are honored to host the first match of the MLS season for the third year in a row," said Sounders FC owner Joe Roth. "It is a true tribute to the Sounders FC fans who have created a passionate and exciting atmosphere unlike any in the league."
Last season Sounders FC set a new League attendance record, averaging 36,173. Seattle has attracted 32 consecutive capacity crowds in MLS play.
Seattle is perfect on opening night. In its inaugural match in 2009 Sounders FC defeated the New York Red Bulls, 3-0. In First Kick 2010, it beat Philadelphia Union, 2-0.
The other 16 MLS teams begin play on March 19 and March 20. It was also announced that the New York Red Bulls will host Seattle in their home opener on March 19 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. First kick is 4:30 p.m. PT.
"Our team looks forward to playing the two division champions, Los Angeles and New York, in our first two games," said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. "It's a difficult task but we relish the opportunity."
MLS First Kick 2011 will also be carried by ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com. The complete MLS schedule will be released by early February 2011. Each of the 18 teams will play 34 games, facing each team home and away. Ten teams will qualify for the playoffs.
Sounders FC is currently accepting deposits for 2011 season tickets. To join, please visit SoundersFC.com or call 877-MLS-GOAL. Seattle's schedule will include matches with MLS newcomers Portland and Vancouver, plus an international friendly against a soon-to-be-announced opponent. Seattle had 32,000 season ticket holders in 2010.
And here's the release from the league:
Major League Soccer’s 16th season will kick off on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 when Seattle Sounders FC host the LA Galaxy live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN3.com at 9:30 p.m. ET. MLS First Kick 2011 is presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Merely 128 days after the Galaxy eliminated Seattle from the MLS Cup Playoffs, Fredy Montero, Kasey Keller and the rest of Sounders FC hope to deliver a cathartic win to another sellout crowd at Qwest Field. But LA’s star-studded roster – led by Landon Donovan and David Beckham – aims to start off right as it defends its 2010 Supporters’ Shield and looks to advance to a record seventh MLS Cup final.
All 18 clubs will take the field during the opening week as they embark on a 34-game, balanced regular season in which every club will face each other twice – once at home, once on the road.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC begin their first MLS season against Canadian rivals Toronto FC on March 19 in one of the marquee matches of the opening weekend.
By the end of Week 2 of the 2011 season, 16 clubs will have played in front of their home fans. The Portland Timbers begin their inaugural MLS campaign at the MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids on March 19, and celebrate the opening of the fully-renovated PGE Park on April 14 against the Chicago Fire. Sporting Kansas City begin their landmark season on the road while the finishing touches are made to KC Soccer Stadium, a stunning new venue that will stage its first MLS match on June 9, also against the Fire.
The schedule for the 18 home openers is below. The entire 2011 MLS regular season will be released by early February. Although MLS will schedule games on FIFA friendly dates, no games will be scheduled on FIFA World Cup Qualifying dates.
Home club listed first, in bold; All times Eastern
Schedule subject to change:
Tuesday, March 15
Seattle Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3.com)
Saturday, March 19
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Toronto FC, time TBD
D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.
New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 7:30 p.m.
FC Dallas vs. Chicago Fire, 8:30 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union, 8:30 p.m.
Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers, 9 p.m.
Chivas USA vs. Sporting Kansas City, 10:30 p.m.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 20
LA Galaxy vs. New England Revolution, 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 26
Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City, 4 p.m.
Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls, 4 p.m.
Philadelphia Union vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 4 p.m.
Toronto FC vs. Portland Timbers, time TBD
New England Revolution vs. D.C. United, time TBD
Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy, 9 p.m.
Thursday, April 14
Portland Timbers vs. Chicago Fire, 11 p.m.
Thursday, June 9
Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire, time TBD