Key dates for 2024 Major League Soccer season

The 2024 MLS campaign is just around the corner, and we finally know several key dates to look forward to in the league’s 29th season.

Lionel MessiLionel Messi

Inter Miami kick-off the 2024 season / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Inter Miami kick off the 2024 campaign against Real Salt Lake at DRV PNK Stadium on February 21, putting Lionel Messi and company back in the spotlight to begin the season.

It’s an interesting but not surprising move from MLS to feature just Miami and Messi from the jump instead of the rest of the league including reigning champions Columbus Crew, who will follow suit with their opening games on February 24 and 25.

Malte Amundsen, Obinna Nwobodo, Ray GaddisMalte Amundsen, Obinna Nwobodo, Ray Gaddis

Rivalry Week sees FC Cincinnati and Columbus Crew battle once again / Jeff Dean/GettyImages

Rivalry Week action begins on May 11 and concludes on May 18, as we’ll get the next installment of the Hell is Real Derby after the dramatic 2023 Eastern Conference final between FC Cincinnati and the Crew.

Portland Timbers will play host to Seattle Sounders at Providence Park, also on May 11.

Miami will travel to Exploria Stadium to take on in-state rivals Orlando City on May 18, while Toronto FC and CF Montreal will square off at BMO Field in the Canadian Classique.

Riqui Puig, Kellyn AcostaRiqui Puig, Kellyn Acosta

El Trafico returns on USA’s Independence Day / Melinda Meijer/ISI Photos/GettyImages

The latest edition of El Trafico returns on July 4 — Independence Day — for the second straight year at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, where the MLS single game attendance record was broken in 2023 with 82,110 fans in attendance.

It will be a very different El Trafico between LAFC and LA Galaxy, which El Tri legend Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez not returning to the Galaxy while Carlos Vela’s future with the Black and Gold remains up in the air.

Aidan Morris, Diego PalaciosAidan Morris, Diego Palacios

A rematch of 2023 MLS Cup is set / Emilee Chinn/GettyImages

Columbus and MLS Cup runners-up LAFC collide again in a rematch of the 2023 final on July 13 at BMO Stadium.

It’ll be one of the most highly anticipated contests in 2024, pitting the likes of Cucho Hernandez & Diego Rossi up against Denis Bouanga & Cristian Olivera.

Los Angeles Football Club v Columbus Crew - 2023 MLS CupLos Angeles Football Club v Columbus Crew - 2023 MLS Cup will play host in the All-Star Game / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

Columbus’ Field was in the spotlight for 2023 MLS Cup, and it will return to glory again for the 2024 MLS All-Star Game on July 24.

While we don’t know the opponent yet for the exhibition contest, hopefully the MLS side can put up more a fight this time around after their previous 5-0 humbling against Premier League giants Arsenal.


Inter Miami won 2023 Leagues Cup / CHANDAN KHANNA/GettyImages

Leagues Cup returns for more action in 2024 after Miami and Messi stole the show to narrowly defeat Nashville SC in the final in a penalty shootout, winning the first-ever trophy in club history.

The competition that sees MLS and Liga MX sides go head-to-head begins on July 26 and will last roughly one month, concluding on August 25 before the back-end of the MLS seasons returns.

John TolkinJohn Tolkin

John Tolkin fired Red Bulls into the postseason in 2023 / Stephen Nadler/ISI Photos/GettyImages

The end of the 2024 regular season leads up to Decision Day, which is slated for October 19, as in-and-around the playoff spots will take part in dramatic clashes across both conferences to punch their tickets to MLS Cup playoffs.

2023 Decision Day was full of drama, as New York Red Bulls full-back John Tolkin slotted home a 94th penalty kick at Nashville SC to ensure his side made the postseason before being eliminated in the first round at the hands of FC Cincinnati.

Los Angeles Football Club v Columbus Crew - 2023 MLS CupLos Angeles Football Club v Columbus Crew - 2023 MLS Cup

Columbus Crew aim to defend their MLS Cup title / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The 2024 MLS Cup playoffs will conclude with MLS Cup on December 7, as the Crew will no doubt look to do what LAFC couldn’t do — repeat as champions to earn their fourth star.

Out of the two finalists, the team who finished higher up in their respective conference will play host in the final, which will be the last MLS Cup with 29 teams before San Diego FC’s inaugural 2025 season.

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