MLS Matchday 1: 5 must-watch games

  • Atlanta take on the current MLS Cup Champions at Field
  • Inter Miami and Lionel Messi travel out west to take on LA Galaxy
  • Two first-year head coaches go head-to-head at Providence Park

Columbus Crew play host to Atlanta United in Matchday 1
Columbus Crew play host to Atlanta United in Matchday 1 / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

Matchday 1 of the 2024 Major League Soccer campaign contains plenty of entertaining and intriguing matchups across both conferences.

Inter Miami and Lionel Messi trek across the country to take on one of the Los Angeles-based clubs, Atlanta United travel up north for a rematch with the reigning MLS Cup champions and two first-year head coaches collide in a late-night clash on the west coast.

Here are five must-watch games from this weekend's opening fixtures in Major League Soccer.

1. Columbus Crew vs Atlanta United - February 24, 2:00 p.m. EST

Thiago Almada, Darlington Nagbe
Atlanta take on Columbus / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

Columbus Crew and Atlanta United clash to bring us one of the most mouth-watering fixtures from the opening weekend's slate of games.

The two Eastern Conference juggernauts last met in the first round of the 2023 MLS Cup playoffs, when the Crew toppled the Five Stripes in game three before going on to lift their third MLS Cup.

The Crew have kept most of their players from their championship-winning team, while Atlanta have made some under-the-radar moves to fill out their starting lineup.

2. LAFC vs Seattle Sounders - February 24, 4:30 p.m. EST

Timothy Tillman, Alex Roldan
LAFC and Seattle Sounders clash / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

LAFC play host to Seattle Sounders at BMO Stadium for an afternoon rematch of the 2023 Western Conference semifinals.

Both sides will look a little different compared to their last meeting in November, as Nicolas Lodeiro departed the Sounders to join Orlando City while Maxime Crepeau and Diego Palacios exited Los Angeles to sign for their new clubs.

Regardless, it's still set to be an entertaining encounter with the likes of Pedro de la Vega and Hugo Lloris making their MLS debuts.

3. Houston Dynamo vs Sporting Kansas City - February 24, 8:30 p.m. EST

Hector Herrera
Hector Herrera leads Houston into battle / Lyndsay Radnedge/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Houston Dynamo welcome Sporting Kansas City to Shell Energy Stadium in a Western Conference primetime clash between the two clubs that qualified for the postseason in 2023.

Houston lost striker Corey Baird in free agency but still have a solid squad under second-year head coach Ben Olsen. On the other hand, Sporting Kansas City's squad remains mostly intact from the previous season with head coach Peter Vermes set to take charge for his 16th season.

4. Portland Timbers vs Colorado Rapids - February 24, 10:30 p.m. EST

Portland Timbers can rely on Evander / Soobum Im/GettyImages

While Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids both finished outside of the playoff line in 2023, both sides have undergone major changes this winter to try to change their fortunes this time around.

Both clubs have new coaches in Phil Neville and Chris Armas and both have also brought in new faces to reshape their squads.

With the likes of Maxime Crepeau, Kamal Miller and Evander in Portland, and Zack Steffen, Djordje Mihailovic and Sam Vines in Colorado, you won't want to miss this late-night showdown at Providence Park.

5. LA Galaxy vs Inter Miami - February 25, 8:30 p.m. EST

Lionel Messi
Inter Miami and LA Galaxy meet on Sunday / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages

Lionel Messi is set to take on LA Galaxy for the first time ever on Sunday night following Inter Miami's opening fixture against Real Salt Lake.

Miami travel to Dignity Health Sports Park with Luis Suarez added to their star-studded lineup, but the Galaxy have made reinforcements of their own. The Gs signed winger Gabriel Pec from Brazilian giants Vasco da Gama and full-back Miki Yamane to bolster their defense.

This primetime contest is set to feature plenty of goals and entertainment with Messi taking on Riqui Puig.