Sounders FC will help kick off MLS’s 2021 opening weekend with a match April 16 against the Minnesota United FC at Lumen Field, the league announced Wednesday.
The game, which will air on FS1 at 6:30 p.m., is a rematch of the Sounders’ amazing Western Conference championship win last year.
The Loons had a two-goal advantage in the 67th minute when Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer began to make his first substitutions. Starting Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz nailed the equalizer in the 89th minute while former midfielder Gustav Svensson, who was subbed into the match, provided the game-winner in second-half stoppage time to vault the Sounders to their fourth MLS Cup in five years with a 3-2 victory.
April’s match is the first time Seattle has opened the regular season against Minnesota. The Sounders have never lost to the Loons, including postseason competitions. The Rave Green is 7-5 all-time in MLS regular-season openers, including a 2-1 home win against the Chicago Fire FC in 2020.
The full MLS 2021 schedules will not be released until later this month.
Whether fans will be able to attend matches at Lumen Field is undecided. Gov. Jay Inslee cleared the way in January for sporting events to host 200 people. But the cap includes both teams, officials and staff, which doesn’t leave much room in the count for spectators.
The last Sounders home match featuring fans was a draw against the Columbus Crew on March 7, 2020. Seattle finished the season with an MLS Cup loss to the Crew before 1,500 fans at MAPFRE Stadium.
MLS will open its 26th season with a new expansion team in Austin FC. The club features a local tie-in former University of Washington defender Freddy Kleemann, the 11th overall pick in the league’s SuperDraft in January.
The Sounders are expected to begin twice-a-day training sessions this week at Starfire Sports in Tukwila. Fredy Montero, the club’s all-time leading goal-scorer, should also begin practice later this week. He was officially signed last Thursday and needs to clear COVID-19 screening, including a seven-day quarantine, to participate.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys out here, so there’s a ton of energy bouncing around,” Sounders defender Shane O’Neill said last week of the atmosphere in camp. Media are not permitted to view sessions due to safety protocols.
“We have a couple of new guys,” O’Neill continued. “We’re just integrating everybody and we’re grinding right now. Guys are working pretty hard, just taking it day by day.”