The 2018 MLS season is done and dusted, and fans of the American/Canadian league certainly can not wait for the next edition to come up soon. For now, they will have to contend themselves with European football, but they will not have to fret, as the 2019 MLS campaign is just around the corner.
With a new team joining the mix this year, the 2019 term is certain to be even more exciting than its predecessor, and here's all you need to know ahead of the upcoming installment of MLS action kicking place in less than two months' time.
When does the 2019 MLS season begin?
The 2019 MLS regular season will begin on March 2, 2019 and end on October 6, 2019. After that, the MLS Cup Playoffs will commence just under two weeks later, on October 19, 2019 and will end with the MLS Cup Final on November 10, 2019.
Which teams are playing in the 2019 MLS season?
This season will see FC Cincinnati joining the franchise, so now there will be 24 teams in total competing in MLS. Unlike the European leagues, MLS does not have a relegation and promotion scheme, and the competition is split into two conferences: the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference.
With 24 teams, both conferences will now have 12 teams in each, as opposed to last term, which saw the Eastern Conference have just 11 versus the Western Conference's 12.
Who are the current champions?
There are two reigning champions in MLS at the moment. In terms of the Supporters' Shield, that honor goes to the New York Red Bulls, who won their third title due to enjoying the best regular season record. Meanwhile, Atlanta United won their first ever MLS Cup by beating Portland Timbers 2-0 in the final on December 8, 2018.
Where to watch the 2019 MLS season on ESPN
ESPN will be carrying over 30 games from the upcoming 2019 MLS season. Here are some of the earlier season fixtures you certainly won't want to miss:
D.C. United vs Atlanta United FC - March 3 - 18:00 EST (15:00 PST)
Los Angeles vs Sporting Kansas City - March 3 - 20:00 EST (17:00 PST)
Atlanta United FC vs FC Cincinnati - March 10 - 17:00 EST (14:00 PST)
Here are the six games which will be shown only on ESPN2:
- LA Galaxy vs Portland Timbers (Sunday, March 31 at 21:00 EST)
- Minnesota United vs New York City FC (Saturday, April 13 at 17:00 EST)
- Los Angeles FC vs FC Dallas (Thursday, May 16 at 22:00 EST)
- Portland Timbers vs Los Angeles FC (Saturday, June 1 at 22:30 EST)
- LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders FC (Saturday, August 17 at 22:00 EST)
- New York City FC vs New York Red Bulls (Saturday, August 24 at 19:00 EST) - Hudson River Derby
ESPN will cover all the other 25 games which were not in that list of six fixtures, including the "El Trafico" Derby between Los Angeles FC and LA Galaxy and the Cascadia Cup clash featuring Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders:
- LA Galaxy vs Los Angeles FC (Friday, July 19 at 22:00 EST)
- Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders FC (Friday, August 23 at 22:00 EST)
And of course, make sure not to miss Decision Day, shown exclusively on ESPN:
- Decision Day (Sunday, October 6 at 16:00 EST)
All 31 games will be shown on ESPN's Spanish network, ESPN Deportes.
Make sure you check out our dedicated 2019 MLS season page for additional broadcast info as the season progresses.