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2021 MLS season preview: Key info on all 27 clubs ahead of kick-off

Major League Soccer returns for its 26th season in 2021, with the brand new season kicking off on Friday April 16 when Houston Dynamo host San Jose Earthquakes in the opening game of the year.

MLS has expanded to 27 clubs in 2021 as a result of Austin FC joining the competition and becoming the third club from Texas. This season will also be an important sophomore year in the league for both Inter Miami and Nashville, while FC Cincinnati are entering their third campaign.

Columbus Crew, one of the league’s founder members way back in 1996, are reigning champions after beating Seattle Sounders in the 2020 MLS Cup final. But they will have plenty of competition to hold onto that title, with Los Angeles FC, Toronto FC, Orlando City, Minnesota United, Philadelphia Union and Portland Timbers among those teams predicted to do well in 2021.

The 2021 regular season will wrap in early November, with the club top of the overall standings to be awarded the Supporters’ Shield as normal, and the MLS Cup playoffs will begin later that month. The season finale is scheduled for December 11.

The first transfer window of the season opened last month and remains open until 1 June, while the mid-season window will follow between July 7 and August 5.

Read on for a rundown of the key information on all 27 clubs ahead of the new season…

MLS debut: 2017

Last season: Did not qualify for playoffs (12th in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Josef Martinez, Ezequiel Barco, Alan Franco

Major signings: Alan Franco, Lisandro Lopez, Erik Lopez, Santiago Sosa

Coach: Gabriel Heinze

Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (42,500)

2021 opening match: @ Orlando City (April 17)

MLS debut: 1998

Last season: Did not qualify for playoffs (11th in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Ignacio Aliseda, Robert Beric, Gaston Gimenez

Major signings: Stanislav Ivanov, Jhon Espinoza

Coach: Raphael Wicky

Stadium: Soldier Field (24,995)

2021 opening match: vs New England Revolution (April 17)

MLS debut: 2019

Last season: Did not qualify for playoffs (14th in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Brenner, Jurgen Locadia, Luciano Acosta

Major signings: Brenner, Jurgen Locadia, Luciano Acosta, Ronald Mataritta

Coach: Jaap Stam

Stadium: West End Stadium (26,000)

2021 opening match: @ Nashville SC (April 17)

MLS debut: 1996

Last season: MLS Cup champions (3rd in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Darlington Nagbe, Lucas Zelarayan, Gyasi Zardes

Major signings: Bradley Wright-Phillips, Perry Kitchen, Alexandru Matan

Coach: Caleb Porter

Stadium: New Crew Stadium (20,000)

2021 opening match: vs Philadelphia Union (April 18)

MLS debut: 1996

Last season: Did not qualify for playoffs (13th in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Edison Flores, Paul Arriola (out on loan)

Major signings: Nigel Robertha, Brendan Hines-Ike

Coach: Hernan Losada

Stadium: Audi Field (20,000)

2021 opening match: vs New York City (April 17)

MLS debut: 2020

Last season: Play-in round of playoffs (10th in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Gonzalo Higuain, Rodolfo Pizarro, Matias Pellegrini

Major signings: Ryan Shawcross, Gregore, Joevin Jones, Kelvin Leerdam

Coach: Phil Neville

Stadium: Inter Miami CF Stadium (18,000)

2021 opening match: vs LA Galaxy (April 18)

MLS debut: 2012 (as Montreal Impact)

Last season: Play-in round of playoffs (9th in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Victor Wanyama

Major signings: Djordje Mihailovic, Aljaz Struna, Bjorn Johnsen

Coach: Wilfried Nancy

Stadium: Saputo Stadium (19,619)

2021 opening match: vs Toronto FC (April 17)

MLS debut: 2020

Last season: Eastern Conference semi-finals (7th in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Randall Leal, Hany Mukhtar, Jhonder Cadiz

Major signings: Rodrigo Pinero, C.J. Sapong

Coach: Gary Smith

Stadium: Nissan Stadium (69,143)

2021 opening match: vs FC Cincinnati (April 17)

MLS debut: 1996

Last season: Eastern Conference final (8th in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Gustavo Bou, Adam Buska, Carles Gil

Major signings: AJ DeLaGarza, Christian Mafla, Wilfrid Kaptoum

Coach: Bruce Arena

Stadium: Gillette Stadium (20,000)

2021 opening match: @ Chicago Fire (April 17)

MLS debut: 2015

Last season: First round of playoffs (5th in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Maxi Moralez, Jesus Medina

Major signings: Alfredo Morales, Malte Amundsen

Coach: Ronny Deila

Stadium: Yankee Stadium (30,321)

2021 opening match: @ D.C. United (April 17)

MLS debut: 1996 (as NY/NJ MetroStars)

Last season: First round of playoffs (6th in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Dru Yearwood

Major signings: Fabio, Andres Reyes, Tom Edwards

Coach: Gerhard Struber

Stadium: Red Bull Arena (25,000)

2021 opening match: vs Sporting Kansas City (April 17)

MLS debut: 2015

Last season: Eastern Conference semi-finals (4th in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Mauricio Pereyra, Nani

Major signings: Alexandre Pato, Silvester van der Water

Coach: Oscar Pareja

Stadium: Exploria Stadium (25,500)

2021 opening match: vs Atlanta United (April 17)

MLS debut: 2010

Last season: First round of playoffs (1st in Eastern Conference; Supporters’ Shield)

2021 designated players: Jamiro Monteiro

Major signings: Stuart Findlay

Coach: Jim Curtin

Stadium: Subaru Park (18,500)

2021 opening match: @ Columbus Crew (April 18)

MLS debut: 2007

Last season: First round of playoffs (2nd in Eastern Conference)

2021 designated players: Alejandro Pozuelo, Jozy Altidore

Major signings:

Coach: Chris Armas

Stadium: BMO Field (28,351)

2021 opening match: @ CF Montreal (April 17)

MLS debut: 2021

Last season: N/A

2021 designated players: Tomas Pochettino, Cecilio Dominguez

Major signings: Tomas Pochettino, Cecilio Dominguez, Rodney Redes, Alexander Ring

Coach: Josh Wolff

Stadium: Q2 Stadium (20,500)

2021 opening match: @ Los Angeles FC (April 17)

MLS debut: 1996

Last season: First round of playoffs (5th in Western Conference)

2021 designated players: Younes Namli

Major signings: Michael Barrios, William Yarbrough

Coach: Robin Fraser

Stadium: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (18,061)

2021 opening match: @ FC Dallas (April 17)

MLS debut: 1995 (as Dallas Burn)

Last season: Western Conference semi-finals (6th in Western Conference)

2021 designated players: Bryan Acosta, Franco Jara

Major signings: Jose Martinez, Jader Obrian, Szabolcs Schon

Coach: Luchi Gonzalez

Stadium: Toyota Stadium (20,500)

2021 opening match: vs Colorado Rapids (April 17)

MLS debut: 2006

Last season: Did not qualify for playoffs (12th in Western Conference)

2021 designated players: Darwin Quintero

Major signings: Maxi Urruti, Tim Parker, Fafa Picault, Joe Corona

Coach: Tab Ramos

Stadium: BBVA Stadium (22,039)

2021 opening match: vs San Jose Earthquakes (April 16)

MLS debut: 1996 (as Kansas City Wizards)

Last season: Western Conference semi-finals (1st in Western Conference)

2021 designated players: Johnny Russell, Alan Pulido

Major signings: Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Remi Walter

Coach: Peter Vermes

Stadium: Children’s Mercy Park (18,467)

2021 opening match: @ New York Red Bulls (April 17)

MLS debut: 1996

Last season: Did not qualify for playoffs (10th in Western Conference)

2021 designated players: Jonathan dos Santos, Javier Hernandez, Kevin Cabral

Major signings: Victor Vazquez, Samuel Grandsir, Derrick Williams, Jorge Villafana

Coach: Greg Vanney

Stadium: Dignity Health Sports Park (27,000)

2021 opening match: @ Inter Miami (April 18)

MLS debut: 2018

Last season: First round of playoffs (7th in Western Conference)

2021 designated players: Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi

Major signings: Kim Moon-hwan, Jesus David Murillo, Corey Baird, Marco Farfan

Coach: Bob Bradley

Stadium: Banc of California Stadium (22,000)

2021 opening match: vs Austin FC (April 17)

MLS debut: 2017

Last season: Western Conference final (4th in Western Conference)

2021 designated players: Jan Gregus, Emanuel Reynoso

Major signings: Ramon Abila, Jukka Raitala, Juan Agudelo, Niko Hansen

Coach: Adrian Heath

Stadium: Allianz Field (19,400)

2021 opening match: @ Seattle Sounders (April 16)

MLS debut: 2011

Last season: First round of playoffs (3rd in Western Conference)

2021 designated players: Sebastian Blanco, Jaroslaw Niezgoda, Yimmi Chara

Major signings: Claudio Bravo, Felipe Mora

Coach: Giovanni Savarese

Stadium: Providence Park (25,218)

2021 opening match: @ Vancouver Whitecaps (April 18)

MLS debut: 2005

Last season: Did not qualify for playoffs (11th in Western Conference)

2021 designated players: Albert Ruznak, Jeizon Ramirez

Major signings: Bobby Wood, Anderson Julio

Coach: Freddy Juarez

Stadium: Rio Tinto Stadium (20,213)

2021 opening match: @ Minnesota United (April 24)

MLS debut: 1996 (as San Jose Clash)

Last season: First round of playoffs (8th in Western Conference)

2021 designated players: Cristian Espinoza

Major signings: Javier Lopez, Eric Remedi, Luciano Abecasis

Coach: Matias Almeyda

Stadium: Earthquakes Stadium (18,000)

2021 opening match: @ Houston Dynamo (April 16)

MLS debut: 2009

Last season: MLS Cup runners-up (2nd in Western Conference)

2021 designated players: Joao Paulo, Raul Ruidiaz, Nicolas Lodeiro

Major signings: Joao Paulo, Fredy Montero, Kelyn Rowe

Coach: Brian Schmeltzer

Stadium: Lumen Field (37,722)

2021 opening match: vs Minnesota United (April 16)

MLS debut: 2011

Last season: Did not qualify for playoffs (9th in Western Conference)

2021 designated players: Lucas Cavallini, Ali Adnan

Major signings: Deiber Caicedo, Caio Alexandre, Bruno Gaspar,

Coach: Marc Dos Santos

Stadium: BC Place (22,120)

2021 opening match: vs Portland Timbers (April 18)

Click here for a ranked list of the 12 best new MLS kits in 2021

For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

Source: 90mins

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