Major League Soccer is back, and it's back with some new friends.
The Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers will make their MLS debuts today as the Expansion class of 2011. The Whitecaps will open their season against Canadian rivals Toronto FC, while Portland will be in Colorado to watch the Rapids make their debut as reigning MLS Cup champions.
There are plenty of entertaining match-ups in the first week, with the Seattle Sounders looking to shake off their opening loss with a win at Red Bull Arena, while Charlie Davies is set to make his first professional first-team appearance in 17 months when D.C. United plays host to the Columbus Crew.
SBI will be covering three of tonight's matches live, with Avi Creditor and Thomas Floyd at the D.C. United-Columbus match, Adam Serrano and Jonathan Vera at the Chivas USA-Sporting Kansas City match and Michael Nastri and I at the Red Bulls-Sounders match. We will have live commentaries from all three matches. Feel free to share thoughts, opinions and some play-by-play for the rest of tonight's matches in the comments section below.
Here is a rundown of all of this weekend's matches:
MLS WEEK ONE
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Toronto FC (6pm)
The Whitecaps make their MLS debut at home against a rebuilt TFC side. Designated Player Eric Hassli will get to show what he can do, while we get our first glimpse at the cast of little-known internationals brought in by TFC.
D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew (7:30pm)
Two teams that appear to be heading in opposite directions square off as a revamped D.C. side take on a rebuilding Crew team that isn't quite done tweaking its roster. Charlie Davies' D.C. debut will be the headliner, but Andy Najar will also be looking to build on his impressive Rookie of the Year-winning first season. For Columbus, the Crew will be looking to show that it's youth infusion and rebuilding process won't mean a forgettable season for the Crew.
New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders (7:30pm)
Thierry Henry and Juan Agudelo will get their first chance to work their magic together, but a hungry Seattle side coming off a season-opening loss will be hungry to avoid a two-match losing streak to start the season.
Houston Dynamo vs. Philadelphia Union (8:30pm)
Eastern Conference rivals square off (yes, admit it, that will take some getting used to). The Dynamo will show off a rebuilt defense and some promising rookies against a Union side that brought in a strong group of veterans to solidify a squad that went through its expansion growing pains in 2010.
FC Dallas vs. Chicago Fire (8:30pm)
MLS Cup finalist FC Dallas sets out to show 2010 was no fluke with an opening win against a Fire team hoping to make people forget last season ever happened. Can reigning MLS MVP David Ferreira spin some more magic in the opener, or will Sean Johnson pull off some of his dynamic saves to keep Chicago in the game?
Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers (9pm, Fox Soccer Channel)
The Rapids lift a championship banner on the same night the Timbers make their MLS debut. Portland head coach John Spencer will be facing a Rapids team he once starred for, but now he'll be leading a Timbers attack that could be dangerous. The Timbers defense will have their hands full trying to contain Omar Cummings and Conor Casey.
Chivas USA vs. Sporting Kansas City (10:30pm)
Sporting KC unveils a new look as well as a new striker in Omar Bravo, who should provide a stiff test for the rebuilt Chivas USA defense. Can former Kansas City captain Jimmy Conrad gain a measure of revenge against the team that cut him loose last winter?
San Jose Earthquakes vs. Real Salt Lake (10:30pm)
One of the best matches of the day features reigning Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski against the stingiest defense in the league in 2010. Real Salt Lake could feel some fatigue after playing a CONCACAF Champions League match on Tuesday, but RSL is deep and dangerous enough to test a San Jose defense that was surprisingly stingy at home last season.
Los Angeles Galaxy vs. New England Revolution (8pm, Galavision)
The Galaxy opened the season last Tuesday with a 1-0 victory, and now LA returns to the Home Depot Center, where Juan Pablo Angel could make his Galaxy debut. New England will be looking to show off a revamped defense that will need to be strong considering New England's attack still looks to be lacking a bit of punch.
Which match-ups are you most looking forward to? Which game do you see being the best of the weekend? Excited to see Portland and Vancouver making their debuts?
Share your thoughts on today's matches in the comments section below.