NEW YORK — The newest Major League Soccer expansion franchise will begin its inaugural campaign on the road when St. Louis City SC plays at Austin FC on Feb. 25 before making its home debut in Week 2 of the 2023 season.
The league on Tuesday released its schedule for next season, highlighted by the debut of St. Louis City, the 29th MLS franchise. St. Louis will be one of 14 teams in the Western Conference, with Nashville shifting to the Eastern Conference and creating a 15-team division.
The Fire will start the season on Saturday March 4 at Soldier Field against New York City FC.
The opening week also will include an El Trafico matchup between MLS Cup champion Los Angeles FC and the LA Galaxy at the Rose Bowl.
Most games will be played on Saturdays with a 7:30 p.m. local start time; a select number will be on Wednesdays. All games will be broadcast through the league’s new streaming deal with Apple called MLS Season Pass. Fox Sports will also air 34 of those games, with 15 on FOX and 19 on FS1.
MLS will take a one-month break after the July 15 games for the Leagues Cup competition, which features all teams from MLS and Liga MX. MLS play will resume on Aug. 20 and the regular season will conclude on Oct. 21.
St. Louis City will debut CITYPARK, its 22,500-seat home stadium, on March 4 while hosting Charlotte FC. Other schedule highlights include rivalry week in mid-May, the MLS All-Star Game in Washington on July 19 and an MLS Cup final rematch between LAFC and Philadelphia on Sept. 23.
The unbalanced divisions will require some schedule juggling. All Eastern Conference teams will play each other twice, along with six games against opponents from the Western Conference. In the 14-team Western Conference, each team will play twice, with one or two additional games against intra-conference opponents.