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Four Matches to Watch in MLS Opening Weekend

Two rebuilt sides face off, an expansion team’s first game, the champions return and a Western Conference showdown headline the first week of matches.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Los Angeles FC Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

MLS is back, baby!

It’s only been three months since Atlanta United won the championship last December, but we’re back to the regular ol’ grind. All 24 teams are in action for opening weekend, with games starting Saturday afternoon and even a few on Sunday evening.

It’d be hard to seriously watch all twelve games, so my job is to help you pick the best to tune in for. These four matches are the ones to make time for:

Vancouver Whitecaps v Minnesota United, 5:00p CT Saturday

Okay, yeah, I’m biased toward Loons games. But this one will actually be an intriguing test for both teams. Vancouver has undergone a near-total rebuild in the span of an offseason, but things don’t look perfect yet, with key players yet to appear in any sort of game. New manager Marc dos Santos wants to put his own stamp on this team, so he’ll be looking to make a solid impression from the get-go.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota added what will likely be five new starters themselves, having re-tooled the defensive midfield and back line. As a side that shipped more than 140 goals over their first two seasons, they’ll look to buckle down and start scooping up road points.

Seattle Sounders v FC Cincinnati, 9:00p CT Saturday

If you’re into staying up late for soccer games, give this one a go as FC Cincinnati make their MLS debut. There’s nothing like the atmosphere of CenturyLink Field to get a team going.

MLS: Carolina Challenge Cup-Columbus Crew at FC Cincinnati
Cincy face off against their Ohio rivals in preseason action.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Cincy’s approach hasn’t inspired much confidence around the league, but maybe, just maybe, it will pay off. They’ll either be sneakily competitive or this game will turn into a rout. The match should be worth a watch either way.

DC United v Atlanta United, 5:00p CT Sunday

Atlanta are going to be an interesting team to watch in the early parts of the season. They seem to be well-equipped to defend their title, but how will Frank de Boer replace Tata Martino? Will Pity Martinez — the South American player of the year — fit into the lineup?

MLS: Champions League-CS Herediano at Atlanta United FC
Pity Martinez (10) on the ball in Champions League action.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

DC were fun to watch with Wayne Rooney aboard, and Audi Field is still pretty new. Atlanta has to recover from a midweek Champions League game, but this should still be a good match to tune in for.

LAFC v Sporting Kansas City, 7:30p CT Sunday

This Sunday doubleheader is definitely worth tuning in for. LAFC’s sophomore season promises to be even better than their debut. Their first opponent of the 2019 season comes in the form of SKC, who will be making a playoff push yet again. Kansas City had a midweek game in Mexico as they eliminated Toluca in the Champions League, which will either result in some tired legs or confidence.

MLS: Champions League-Toluca at Sporting KC
SKC celebrate after a goal scored against Toluca in Champions League action.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the Western Conference’s top teams doing battle? Yeah, I’m here for it.

Which MLS matches around the league will you be watching this weekend? Let us know in the comments section below!