When does the MLS season start? Key dates for 2024

February is the start of the new Major League Soccer campaign

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The 2024 calendar has flipped to February, which can only mean one thing -- it's Major League Soccer season.

Fresh after the Columbus Crew beat LAFC 2-1 in the 2023 MLS Cup Final on Dec. 9, teams are about to re-take the pitch to give it another go.

It's been a shorter offseason than usual due to the recent tweak to the postseason that included a best-of-three round. So, instead of the MLS Cup Final occurring in early November, it was essentially pushed back a month.

Some teams, like Inter Miami, have already started playing preseason games, while others will begin soon.

With opening day looming, here's everything to know about the 2024 MLS campaign:

When does the 2024 MLS season start?

The first game of the MLS regular season is a standalone match on Wednesday, Feb. 21. It will see Lionel Messi and Inter Miami host Real Salt Lake.

Every other team will open the season on Saturday, Feb. 24, and Sunday, Feb. 25. Inter Miami will play again that Sunday, visiting LA Galaxy.

When is MLS rivalry week in 2024?

MLS rivalry week, which pits the league's best rivals against one another, is set for the week of Saturday, May 11, through Saturday, May 18.

When is El Trafico at the Rose Bowl?

LAFC and LA Galaxy will meet at the Rose Bowl for the second straight season in another installment of El Trafico. The match will be played on Thursday, July 4. Last year's match was also played on the same day and drew a league-record 82,110 fans.

When and where is the 2024 MLS All-Star Game?

This year's All-Star Game is slated for Wednesday, July 24. Columbus Crew is the host this season, though no opponent has yet been announced. Last year, Arsenal of the English Premier League traveled to D.C. United for the fixture.

When is the 2024 Leagues Cup?

The Leagues Cup that pits MLS teams against Liga MX teams in a month-long tournament will start on Friday, July 26, and run until Sunday, Aug. 25.

When is MLS Decision Day 2024?

Decision Day, which is the final regular-season matchday in MLS, is slated for Saturday, Oct. 19.

When is the 2024 MLS Cup Final?

The postseason will again feature the same format as last season, so the final will be held in December. The exact date is Saturday, Dec. 7, with the host team being the side with the better regular-season record.

Who are MLS teams to watch in 2024?

A new season means some teams will have fresh rosters while others will mostly run it back with small tweaks.

The Colorado Rapids could be in for a serious improvement after a last-place finish out West in 2023. They brought in goalie Zack Steffen from Manchester City, Djordje Mihailovic from AZ Alkmaar and Sam Vines from Royal Antwerp, among others, to bolster their floor. Chris Armas also arrived from the Premier League to be head coach.

The Portland Timbers will look to bounce back into the postseason after being one spot shy of the wild card round. They acquired Canadian left-footed center back Kamal Miller from Miami while also adding goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau as a free agent from LAFC. Their defense conceded the second-most goals in the Western Conference in 2023, so that should improve.

Lastly, Inter Miami will be the big draw with Messi starting the season with the club. Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba will also be joined by Uruguayan legend Luis Suarez, who joined the team over the offseason. Right back Julian Gressel could be key after arriving as a free agent from Columbus. Losing young forward Facundo Farias to an ACL tear is a blow, though, and relying on a core of legends a few years past their prime may not end in the glory Miami is seeking.

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