MLS schedule: No rest for Gold Cup

February, 10, 2011
2/10/11
4:33
PM PT
Major League Soccer unveiled its 2011 schedule Thursday, and if a big step forward has been taken with the decision to sit quiet on three FIFA International Fixture Dates -- Aug. 10, Sept. 3-4 and Oct. 8-9 -- then perhaps we should be questioning why the league won't stop, or at least slow down, during the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

MLS plans a full slate during the June 5-25 regional nations championship, with Chivas USA slated to play on opening day (at home against Portland, with the Gold Cup's Home Depot Center matches held the following day) and opposite the final (at Philadelphia) and the Galaxy in action (at San Jose) the night of the final.

The Galaxy, which figures to lose Landon Donovan and perhaps Omar Gonzalez to the U.S. national team for the tournament, will play four games during the Gold Cup. Chivas USA, which likely will lose nobody, is scheduled to play five.

The SuperClasico, pitting the Galaxy against Chivas, is slated for May 21 (Goats at home) and Oct. 16 (L.A. at home). Reigning MLS champion Colorado visits HDC on March 26 (vs. Chivas) and Sept. 9 (vs. Galaxy).

Chivas faces two tough stretches: seven of nine on the road from mid-April through the end of May, with games at Real Salt Lake, New York and Columbus; and a five-game swing through Dallas, New England, Seattle, Colorado and Portland from July 31 through Aug. 24. The Galaxy's longest trek is three games, at D.C. United, Toronto FC and Chicago, from April 9-17.

All 18 teams will be in action March 26 -- Chivas is home against Colorado, Galaxy plays at Real Salt Lake -- the biggest day ever on MLS's calendar.

Here are six matches to watch from each of the local teams' schedules:

GALAXY (click team name for full schedule)

TUESDAY, MARCH 15
AT SEATTLE SOUNDERS

L.A. returns to Qwest Field to battle Sigi Schmid and the Sounders (and 35,000 of their fiercest fans) in the league's opener.

SUNDAY, MARCH 20
VS. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (at HDC)

The Galaxy's home opener is a rematch of two MLS Cup title games (2002, 2005), both won by L.A. in OT. This year's Revs are rebuilding.

SATURDAY, MAY 7
VS. NEW YORK RED BULLS (at HDC)

The biggest game on MLS's schedule, with Donovan, David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez -- and Juan Pablo Angel on L.A.'s side this time.

MONDAY, JULY 4
VS. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (at HDC)

The Galaxy's annual fireworks spectacular, with Seattle in town, just like last year.

SATURDAY, OCT. 1
VS. REAL SALT LAKE (at HDC)

Nothing against FC Dallas or the Colorado Rapids, but Real Salt Lake appears to be the mightiest team in the West, and this showdown could determine the Supporters' Shield and top seeding for the postseason.

SUNDAY, OCT. 16
VS. CHIVAS USA (at HDC)

Is it MLS's best rivalry? There are others in the conversation -- Real Salt Lake-Colorado has been dynamite the last few years, and none has been more meaningful than New England-Chicago -- and the Cascadia rivalries in the Pacific Northwest will trump everything that's come before. But this is our best soccer rivalry, for sure.

CHIVAS USA (click team name for full schedule)

SATURDAY, MARCH 19
VS. SPORTING KANSAS CITY (at HDC)

The Goats open their campaign against the rechristened ex-Wizards, new defensive leader Jimmy Conrad's former club. Mexican star Omar Bravo could make his MLS debut for SKC, and it's a homecoming, of course, for Kei Kamara, who played at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

SATURDAY, MAY 7
AT REAL SALT LAKE

The Goats visit Rio Tinto Stadium for the first meeting between head coach Robin Fraser and the club he arrived from.

SATURDAY, MAY 21
VS. GALAXY (at HDC)

By the first SuperClasico meeting of the season, we ought to have an idea how good the Galaxy really is and whether Chivas USA can do more than just rebuild.

SATURDAY, JULY 16
VS. NEW YORK RED BULLS (at HDC)

The one must-see team in MLS is the Red Bulls. It's all about Henry and Marquez.

SATURDAY, AUG. 27
VS. REAL SALT LAKE (at HDC)

The home meeting with RSL, with Fraser matching wits with Jason Kreis on friendly ground.

SATURDAY, OCT. 22
VS. SEATTLE SOUNDERS (at HDC)

Likely the last game of the season for the Goats -- hard to see them making the postseason out of the superior Western Conference, home to a good half-dozen title contenders.

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