2019 MLS season: Complete schedule for Week 1 and three key storylines to watch for

Major League Soccer's 2019 campaign kicks off on Saturday with every team in action on the opening weekend. With the season concluding with MLS Cup 2019 in November, it is a nine-month marathon to the title. The opening matchday features some really enticing battles, including reigning champion Atlanta United heading to the nation's capitol on Sunday's to face Wayne Rooney and D.C. United at Audi Field in a clash between two playoff-worthy squads this season. 

Here's how you can watch the matches and some storylines to keep an eye on during the first weekend:

MLS Week 1 schedule

Saturday, March 2
Philadelphia Union vs. Toronto FC, 1 p.m. ET on ESPN+
Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC, 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+
Columbus Crew SC vs. New York Red Bulls, 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+
FC Dallas vs. New England Revolution, 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+
Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers, 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+
Houston Dynamo vs. Real Salt Lake, 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Minnesota United FC, 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+
LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire, 8 p.m. ET on FS1 and fuboTV (Try for free)     
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Montreal Impact, 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+
Seattle Sounders FC vs. FC Cincinnati, 10 p.m. ET on FS1 and fuboTV (Try for free)    

Sunday, March 3
D.C. United vs. Atlanta United FC, 6 p.m. ET on ESPN
Los Angeles FC vs. Sporting Kansas City, 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

1. Life without Berhalter for Columbus

With Caleb Porter leading the way, Columbus Crew SC look to find stability after losing head coach Gregg Berhalter to the United States men's national team. Porter is an MLS Cup-winning coach and has ties to Ohio, having coached at Akron. He's a young, experienced manager and should do well there despite a limited budget. The team has plenty of talent in Federico Higuain, Wil Trapp and Gyasi Zardes, and the expectation will be to get this team to the playoffs for the third consecutive season. Facing a quality New York Red Bulls team will provide quite the test to kick off the campaign. 

2. Ibrahimovic, GBS look for hot start

Plenty of eyes will be on the Los Angeles Galaxy this season, especially early on. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in his first full season after joining the team in late March last season. The expectation is for him to comfortably surpass 20 goals this season if he stays healthy. In addition, new coach Guilermo Barros Schelotto takes over one of the league's proudest franchises. After missing out on the playoffs last season, the goal this season will not only be to make the playoffs, but to make a run in the west. 

3. Best matchup on paper goes to ...

The top game of the weekend is set to be Atlanta vs. D.C. The reigning MLS Cup winners take on a team in D.C. that some are looking at as a dark horse to win the east, especially with other teams losing important pieces. Gone in Atlanta are Miguel Almiron and coach Tata Martino, and in are Pity Martinez and new coach Frank de Boer. When you look at NYCFC, David Villa's gone, so the team's goal production should take a big hit, and with Columbus replacing Berhalter, D.C. United and the Red Bulls look like strong candidates to possibly overtake Atlanta if the team takes a step back. This first game should tell us plenty, a win for D.C. United will make a strong statement that this team has the ability to put together strong showings against top competition. 

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Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Goal.com... Full Bio

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