MLS sets new stadium opening dates in full 2021 schedule

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Soccer confirmed the opening dates for its three new stadiums while releasing the full 34-game schedule for its 26th season of competition Wednesday.

FC Cincinnati will open West End Stadium against Inter Miami on May 16. Expansion Austin FC will debut Q2 Stadium on June 19 against San Jose after opening its inaugural season with seven straight road games.

The defending MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew then will play their first match at New Crew Stadium on July 3.

The league’s annual Rivalry Week featuring local derbies and popular matchups will be held Aug. 20-29. The rematch of last season’s MLS Cup final, pitting Columbus against the Seattle Sounders, is set for Aug. 21.

The MLS still hasn’t set an exact date for the All-Star Game, which is expected to be held at Los Angeles FC’s Banc of California Stadium in July.

Although the start of the regular season was delayed by two weeks after the signing of the league’s collective bargaining agreement in February, the season still ends Nov. 7. The 14-team MLS Cup playoffs begin Nov. 19, with the championship match on Dec. 11.

The league’s two conferences are unbalanced this season with 14 teams in the East and 13 teams in the West. All 14 Eastern Conference teams and 11 Western Conference teams will play two matches apiece against teams in the other conference, while two West teams have three matches against the East.

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