MLS 2021 will begin soon. The 26th season is getting closer as every team is already preparing for a demanding year, in which we will continue to watch the experienced stars alongside the promising youth talent that feature in this exciting league.

With a new franchise making its debut in the league, 27 teams are going to battle in the new soccer year in the US. Columbus Crew were crowned champions in the last season and they are going to be the defending title holders in this edition. Moreover, expansion side Austin FC prepare to make their breakthrough in the competition.

The new MLS season will begin on Friday, April 16. After a 2020 year in which the activity was interrupted by the pandemic, a fresh start is closer for the US soccer league. Before the kickoff, here we'll take a look into the schedule, the format of the competition and key dates for MLS 2021.

MLS 2021 Format

Teams will be divided in Eastern and Western Conference as usual. This year, however, with the addition Austin FC, there will be 13 teams in the Weast, and 14 in the East. The regular-season consists of 34 games for each of the 27 MLS sides and it will take place from April to November. The top seven teams from each conference will get into the playoffs looking to have a deep run until the MLS Cup final. 

MLS 2021 Schedule

The MLS 2021 full schedule has been released, and there are plenty of exciting games in a highly-expected new season. Austin FC's debut against Los Angeles FC, Inter Miami's second year in the tournament and Columbus Crew's beginning of the title defense are some of the highlights. This is how the competition will kick off:

. MLS first round - Weekend of April 16, 17 and 18

Houston Dynamo vs Seattle Sounders
Seattle Sounders vs Minnesota United FC
New York Red Bulls vs Sporting Kansas City
CF Montreal vs Toronto FC
Orlando City vs Atlanta United
LAFC vs Austin FC
FC Dallas vs Colorado Rapids
DC United vs New York FC
Chicago Fire vs New England Revolution
Nashville vs Cincinnati
Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy
Columbus Crew vs Philadelphia Union
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Portland Timbers

MLS 2021 Key Dates

After the Major League Soccer announced the full schedule for the 2021 season, let's take a look at the key dates for this tournament.

. LAFC vs Austin FC - April 17 
. Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy - April 18
. LAFC vs Seattle Sounders - April 24
. San Jose Earthquakes vs FC Dallas - April 24
. Nashville vs Inter Miami - May 2
. LA Galaxy vs LAFC - May 8
. Inter Miami vs Atlanta United - May 9
. Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders - May 9
. LA Galaxy vs Austin FC - May 15
. Cincinnati vs Inter Miami - May 16
. Portland Timbers vs LA Galaxy - May 22
. Seattle Sounders vs Atlanta United - May 23
. New York Red Bull vs New York City FC - August 21
. Orlando City vs Inter Miami - August 27
. LAFC vs LA Galaxy - August 28
. Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers - August 29

Decision Day - November 7

Cincinnati vs Atlanta United
Columbus Crew vs Chicago Fire
Nashville vs New York Red Bull
New England Revolution vs Inter Miami
New York City FC vs Philadelphia Union
Toronto FC vs DC United
CF Montreal vs Orlando City
Sporting Kansas City vs Real Salt Lake
Colorado Rapids vs LAFC
LA Galaxy vs Minnesota United
Portland Timbers vs Austin
San Jose Earthquakes vs FC Dallas
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Seattle Sounders

MLS Cup 2021 Playoffs - Begins November 19

MLS Cup final - December 11