2012 MLS Schedule: Sounders, Toronto FC Get First Week Byes

LA Galaxy don't get a first-week bye, but they do get to play their first three league games at home.

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2012 MLS Schedule Released: Sounders, Toronto FC Get First Week Byes

The 2012 MLS schedule was released on Thursday, impressively enough almost exactly at the time the league let rumor out that it would be. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that the Seattle Sounders were given a bye during Week 1 even though the league had previously announced they would be playing at home on March 10. It was also revealed that the 2012 MLS Cup would be played on Dec. 1, meaning the season will last a record 232 days.

That move was surely in response to a request from the Sounders to be given extra time to focus on their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Santos Laguna on March 7 and 14. Toronto FC, as previously revealed, was also given a bye that weekend. They will be playing the LA Galaxy in CCL play on March 7 and 14.

Curiously enough, though, the Galaxy were not afforded the same luxury. In fact, the Galaxy will play four matches between March 7 and 18. In addition to two CCL matches against TFC, they will open at home against Real Salt Lake on March 10 and follow that up with a home match against D.C. United on March 18. The good news for the Galaxy is that after opening CCL play at Toronto, they won't have to leave Home Depot Center again until April 7 when they play at Sporting Kansas City.

One other Galaxy-related surprise was their absence from NBC. The league's newest broadcast partner will have eight Galaxy games on their cable channel, NBC Sports, but will not have any of their games on NBC proper. Those three NBC games will instead go to Portland Timbers-Sounders on Sept. 15, New York Red Bulls-Chicago Fire on Oct. 6 and Philadelphia Union-Red Bulls on Oct. 27. In total, 38 regular-season games will be broadcast on NBC Sports.

For more on the 2012 MLS schedule, be sure to follow this StoryStream.

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2012 MLS Schedule: Toronto FC Will Reportedly Get First Week Off

Reports all around the Major League Soccer suggest that the 2012 schedule has essentially been finalized and is expected to be released later this week. Apparently, Canadian Soccer News has gotten their hands on a leaked copy of Toronto FC's schedule which sheds some semblance of light on other parts of the schedule.

The most notable thing about the schedule is that Toronto FC will apparently have a bye during First Kick. At least one team was destined to have that bye, as there are 19 teams, but that it's Toronto FC suggests that maybe MLS is having second thoughts about forcing teams playing in CONCACAF Champions League to partake in the opening weekend.

Toronto FC is scheduled to visit the Seattle Sounders on March 17, just three days after both teams are scheduled to play the second legs of their CCL quarterfinals. If the Sounders are forced to play during First Kick, that would be their fourth match in 11 days while TFC would be playing for just the third time. It would make more sense to give both the Sounders and LA Galaxy opening weekend off in order to provide more competitive fairness.

It was also revealed by CSN that the Voyageurs' Cup will retain its tournament format with Toronto FC most likely hosting FC Edmonton in the first round. With the leaked schedule suggesting TFC will host their only game against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Aug. 8, that would mean no visit to Vancouver in 2012.

For the latest updates on the 2012 MLS schedule, be sure to follow this StoryStream.

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MLS First Kick 2012: Red Bulls, FC Dallas Will Be NBC Sports Network's First-Ever Game

FC Dallas will host the New York Red Bulls in the first MLS game to ever be broadcast on NBC Sports Network, the league announced on Tuesday. That game, to be played on March 11, will be a rematch of their playoff encounter from 2011, and is ostensibly the marquee match of a rather lackluster opening weekend for nationally televised games. No other game features two teams that made the playoffs.

The other nationally televised games for MLS First Kick will be Chivas USA hosting the Houston Dynamo on Galavision on March 11; the Vancouver Whitecaps hosting the Montreal Impact on TSN on March 10; and the Portland Timbers hosting the Philadelphia Union on ESPN2 on March 12. The biggest shocker would seem to be the exclusion of the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders from the national TV docket. The Galaxy are the defending MLS Cup champions and the Sounders have historically drawn relatively high ratings.

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2012 MLS Schedule: League Likely To Break For World Cup Qualifiers, Start Earlier

Major League Soccer will likely open its season the weekend of March 10 in order to allow for a trio of breaks during World Cup Qualifying weekends, Toronto FC officials reportedly told season-ticket holders on Thursday. The report in Canadian Soccer News also indicates that club officials added further confirmation to earlier reports from SB Nation that the schedule would likely consist of 34 games.

If the opening weekend is indeed scheduled for March 10, the league's First Kick would almost certainly be on the previous Thursday. That would make for the earliest ever start to a MLS season.

Such an early start could have ramifications on CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, which are scheduled for March 6-8 and 13-15. This would almost certainly mean the season will open someplace other than Seattle's CenturyLink Field, which has hosted First Kick in each of the last three years as the Sounders have already qualified for the quarterfinals. 

For the latest updates on the 2012 MLS schedule, be sure to follow this StoryStream.

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