There are many exciting things to look forward to in 2015 - new players, new teams, new stadiums - but top of the list are the new broadcast deals with ESPN, FOX and Univision that offer MLS fans a set schedule of matches on a weekly basis.
Looking ahead to the first week of the season, four matches will be broadcast on national TV, highlighted by Sporting KC's 2015 debut on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday at 6 p.m. CT. Here is a list of the other national TV matches to watch this weekend:
LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire - Friday, March 6 | 9pm CT | UniMas
The defending MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy open the 2015 MLS regular season at home against a revamped Chicago Fire. Friday's match is the first of the year on UniMas. It's also the first opportunity for fans to test out the new SAP feature for those wanting to watch UniMas matches in English in 2015. Click here or watch the video above for details.
Orlando City vs. New York City FC - Sunday, March 8 | 4pm CT | ESPN2
ESPN's first match of the year has everything you could ask for in a season opener including the only MLS player to have also won a Ballon d'Or (Kaka). Throw in World Cup winner David Villa and 60,000+ fans at the Citrus Bowl and Sunday's match is must-see TV.
Sporting KC vs. New York Red Bulls - Sunday, March 8 | 6pm CT | FOX Sports 1
Sporting KC does not have to wait long to seek revenge on the team that knocked them out of the 2014 MLS Cup Playoffs as the New York Red Bulls visit Sporting Park this weekend. Sunday's match is the first for FOX under the new broadcast deals and features the top two goalscorers in MLS from 2014 - New York's Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sporting KC's Dom Dwyer.
Seattle Sounders FC vs. New England Revolution - Sunday, March 8 | 8:30pm CT | FOX Sports 1
After Sporting KC's game finishes on Sunday, you're going to want to stay glued to FOX Sports 1. The Seattle Sounders are expecting another sold-out crowd as they welcome the 2014 MLS Cup runners-up. With Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Lee Nguyen expected to take the field, you can expect a high-scoring match at CenturyLink Field.
The Sporting KC Show returned to the airwaves last night with its debut episode of 2015. SKCTV's Nate Bukaty and Andy Gruenebaum were joined by Carter Augustine to discuss Sporting KC's offseason transformation and look ahead to the 2015 season. The trio was also joined by Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes who offered his thoughts on Sporting KC's roster and the offseason move to the Western Conference.
Listen to the full podcast of the show below:
On the field, Sporting Kansas City has seen a lot of turnover from 2014 to 2015. With 13 new players on the roster, Peter Vermes had a busy winter retooling a roster that finished in fifth place in the Eastern Conference last year.
But that turnover has not been limited to on the field. In the broadcast booth, Sporting Kansas City has welcomed three new faces including 41 Action News reporter Kacie McDonnell, who will join Nate Bukaty (Play-by-Play), Andy Gruenebaum (Color Commentator) and Jake Yadrich (Lead Analyst) on SKCTV broadcasts in 2015.
McDonnell has been busy over the past week making the media rounds, with features in both Ink and Pitch. Pick up your copy of both papers on newsstands starting today!
Sporting Kansas City will kick off their 20th season in Major League Soccer on Sunday evening against the New York Red Bulls at Sporting Park (Buy Tickets). The match will kick off at 6 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Deportes with radio coverage on Sports Radio 810 WHB and La Gran D 1340.
Leading up to the opening weekend, MLSsoccer.com has created video previews for each team. Check out Sporting KC's video preview to see where experts think Peter Vermes' club will finish in 2015 as well as which individual hardware could find itself in KC by year's end.
As he has repeatedly shown during his time at Sporting Kansas City, Dom Dwyer is one of the most vibrant personalities in Major League Soccer. Even during a typical day of preseason training in Tucson, Arizona -- where Dwyer's team is competing in the 2015 Desert Diamond Cup -- the Englishman is quick to embrace the words of MLS veteran and fellow friend Mike Magee: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."
MLSsoccer.com followed Dwyer on a sunny Tucson afternoon earlier this month. Check out the video above, as the newlywed 24-year-old shows off his new tattoos, goes ding dong ditching with his teammates and enjoys a little poolside relaxation.
With Sporting Kansas City in the midst of preseason, there are lots of great storylines coming out of preseason training camp. Sports Radio 810's Nate Bukaty, who will also be the voice of Sporting KC in 2015, has been in Tucson over the past few days covering the team's camp. Bukaty has been interviewing players as well as joining his 810 colleagues on their various shows to provide updates from Tucson. Check out the podcasts below to hear three different interviews from Friday.
Nate Bukaty chats with Matt Besler on The Border Patrol
Nate Bukaty joins Soren Petro on The Program KC (includes interview with Peter Vermes)
Nate Bukaty joins Kevin Kietzman on Between the Lines (includes interview with Kevin Ellis)
Dom Dwyer also had the opportunity to speak with 610 Sports Radio's Bob Fescoe and Josh Klinger on Friday about his recent marriage to U.S. Women's National Team star Sydney Leroux and his goals for the upcoming season. Listen closely to hear which U.S. Men's National Team star audiobombs the interview!
After a two-year stint in England with Wigan Athletic, All-Star midfielder Roger Espinoza has returned to Major League Soccer. Sporting Kansas City's marquee offseason signing, the 28-year-old Honduran international is back where he spent his first five professional seasons from 2008-2012.
Espinoza appeared today on the latest episode of MLSsoccer.com's Extra Time Radio to discuss his move to Kansas City, wedding gifts for Dom Dwyer and his experience playing in England. You can catch Espinoza's segment below and visit MLSsoccer.com for the full podcast episode.
The Sporting KC Academy U14's and U18's won U.S. Youth Futsal national titles last weekend at the New Century Field House in Gardner, Kansas. The U14's defeated Ginga Academy 4-1 in Sunday's championship match, while the U18 division featured an all-Sporting KC championship as Team Indigo topped Team Argyle 8-7.
The Sporting KC U16's finished the group stage in first place with a 2-1-0 record and claimed a 6-5 semifinal win before falling 6-0 to Samba Black Boys in the championship. Fellow Academy clubs Sporting Blue Valley and Sporting Lincoln also competed in the tournament, which hosted 126 teams from 19 different states.
As Dom Dwyer soared to the top of Sporting KC's single-season scoring charts last year, the one question on many people's mind was how many goals will he finish with? And better yet, what number did he set for himself at the start of the year? Although the Sporting KC Golden Boot winner would not reveal the number at year's end, he did say that his 22 goals was shy of his preseason goal.
In a recent interview with ESPNFC's Alejandro Moreno, Dwyer hinted that 30 goals might be in the cards for his goal this coming year. He also made a bet with Moreno if he were to score more than 18 goals. The terms of the bet? You'll have the watch the interview to find out.