PORTLAND, Ore.— The Portland Timbers open their inaugural Major League Soccer season Saturday, March 19, against the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park at 6 p.m. (Pacific), it was announced today as MLS unveiled home openers and First Kick matchups for the start of the league’s 16th season in 2011.
The Timbers will play host to the Chicago Fire in their MLS home opener on Thursday, April 14, as they celebrate the opening of a newly-renovated PGE Park; kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. (Pacific).
The Timbers’ season opener against the Rapids pits head coach John Spencer against his former club. Spencer starred for the Rapids during his playing career from 2001-04, where he was a two-time MLS All-Star and Best XI selection, captaining the team to three straight postseason appearances. Spencer was inducted into the Rapids’ Gallery of Honor in 2009.
"It is always a great feeling for me, going back to Colorado,” said Spencer. “The Rapids will always have a special place in my heart. But this will be a special occasion for our team, being that this is the first game in Timbers MLS history."
All 18 clubs will take the field during the opening “First Kick” week as they embark on a 34-game, balanced regular season in which every club will face each of the other 17 twice – once at home, once on the road.
In the second week of the regular season, the Timbers visit BMO Field to play Toronto FC in its first home match of the campaign on Saturday, March 26. A kickoff time will be determined at a later date.
The 2011 MLS season begins March 15, as the LA Galaxy take on Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field at 6:30 p.m. (Pacific) on ESPN.
The entire 2011 MLS regular season will be released by early February. Although MLS will schedule games on FIFA friendly dates, no games will be scheduled on FIFA World Cup Qualifying dates.
MLS 2011 Home Opener Schedule:
Home club listed first; all times Eastern. Schedule subject to change.
Tuesday, March 15
Seattle Sounders FC vs. LA Galaxy, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Saturday, March 19
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Toronto FC, time TBD
D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.
New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 7:30 p.m.
FC Dallas vs. Chicago Fire, 8:30 p.m.
Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union, 8:30pm
Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers, 9 p.m.
Chivas USA vs. Sporting Kansas City, 10:30 p.m.
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake, 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 20
LA Galaxy vs. New England Revolution, 9 p.m.
Saturday, March 26
Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City, 4 p.m.
Columbus Crew vs. New York Red Bulls, 4 p.m.
Philadelphia Union vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 4 p.m.
Toronto FC vs. Portland Timbers, time TBD
New England Revolution vs. D.C. United, time TBD
Real Salt Lake vs. LA Galaxy, 9 p.m.
Thursday, April 14
Portland Timbers vs. Chicago Fire, 11 p.m.
Thursday, June 9
Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire, time TBD