Austin FC's long-awaited debut is finally in sight, Major League Soccer announced on Monday that the 2021 season will begin on April 3, with 34 matches for each of the league's 27 clubs.
The announcement applauded Austin FC's debut, along with its "new world-class stadium," which was named Q2 Stadium the same day. Preseason training will begin on Feb. 22 and the regular season ends on MLS Decision Day, Nov. 7.
📰 | @MLS today announced the 2021 season will begin on Saturday, April 3 and feature 34 matches for each of the league’s 27 clubs.— Austin FC (@Austin FC)1611608003.0
With the addition of Austin FC, the 2021 season will feature 27 clubs, 14 in the Eastern Conference and 13 in the Western Conference.
Playoffs will begin on Nov. 19 until the MLS Cup game, scheduled for Dec. 11. Prior to the playoffs, MLS clubs also will participate in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Canadian Championship and Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League in 2021.
Keeping things COVID-friendly, players will be required to quarantine and conduct individual training upon returning to their clubs, in accordance with MLS health and safety protocols. Teams will be tested every other day, plus the day before matches during the regular season.
With travel restrictions still in effect between the U.S. and Canada, the MLS said it is in contact with its three Canadian clubs and will release more details about their involvement in the near future.
MLS said it plans to announce the full regular-season schedule in the coming weeks, but for now, here are the key dates to watch out for:
Feb. 22 MLS Preseason training begins (6 weeks)
- Players will observe a mandatory quarantine upon reporting
Apr. 3-4 MLS is Back - Opening Weekend 2021
Late August MLS Heineken® Rivalry Week
Late summer MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, Leagues Cup, Campeones Cup
Nov. 7 MLS Decision Day
Nov. 19 Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs begin
Dec. 11 2021 MLS Cup
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