Major League Soccer will have eight matches kick off its 25th season in 2020. The league released its full schedule Thursday, opening its slate of games Feb. 29.
The defending champion Sounders FC begin their road to a title defense with a home match against the Chicago Fire on March 1 at CenturyLink Field. Decision Day, where all MLS teams kickoff at the same time for the final match of the season, is Oct. 4.
The Sounders won their second MLS Cup in team history by defeating Toronto FC 3-1 before a record crowd of 69,274 at CenturyLink Field in November. The result qualified the Sounders for the CONCACAF Champions League, a 16-team regional tournament that begins play mid-February and crowns its champion in May.
Dates for the two-leg aggregate series were announced Friday. The Sounders open against Honduran side CD Olimpia and play the first match Feb. 20 in Tegucigalpa. The second leg is at CenturyLink Field on Feb. 27 – three days before their MLS opener. Seattle is aiming to be the first MLS club to win the title. Toronto FC (2018), Montreal Impact (2015) and Real Salt Lake (2011) have reached the finals.
MLS also announced a bump in broadcast coverage in comparison to 2015 when it didn’t have deals with ABC, Fox, Univision and CTV. There are a combined 36 matches airing on those networks in 2020.
The Sounders expect to have 14 nationally televised matches, beginning with ESPN broadcasting the home opener against Chicago. Matches not picked to air nationally will broadcast throughout Western Washington on JOEtv.
Seattle begins defense of its Cascadia Cup with a match against the Vancouver Whitecaps on April 18 at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders face the archrival Portland Timbers at Providence Park on May 17 and host the club Aug. 22 at The Clink, which is also airing on ESPN.
The historic 25th season for MLS includes two expansion teams in Nashville SC and Inter Miami CF. Seattle will play Nashville twice, first away on April 3 and hosting the club on Decision Day.
The Rave Green faces Miami once Aug. 28 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on ESPN.
The Sounders open training camp Jan. 11. The club has 19 players under contract, 11 of whom made appearances in the postseason run.
The Sounders could play six matches without any combination of Raul Ruidiaz (Peru), Nico Lodeiro (Uruguay), Gustav Svensson (Sweden) and Xavier Arreaga (Ecuador) as they likely honor international call-ups to compete for their national teams in the Copa America or Euro 2020 for Svensson.
Each MLS team plays 34 matches with the Sounders facing each Western Conference opponent twice and 10 matches against Eastern Conference teams. There are 17 home games and 17 away. The Sounders will not play FC Cincinnati, Orlando City SC and the Philadelphia Union during the regular season.