By FRANCO PANIZO
The 2012 MLS regular season schedule has been unveiled, and it is the longest ever in the league's history.
MLS's 17th season begins on March 10 and ends with MLS Cup on December 1, the first time the championship game will be decided in the final month of the year.
The league's 19 teams will all play 34 games in 2012 for a total of 323 regular season matches. All matches will be televised live this year.
The complete season spans over 267 days while the regular season takes place over 232 days, both of which are the respective longest in league history.
Some of the more notable matches include the New York Red Bulls-Los Angeles Galaxy game at the Home Depot Center on May 5. Another is the lone rematch of last year's MLS Cup between the Galaxy and Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium on May 26.
The Montreal Impact makes its MLS debut against Canadian rival, the Vancouver Whitecaps, on March 10. The Impact also take on Toronto FC on April 7 for their first encounter in MLS.
Some other notes from the 2012 schedule:
- MLS originally did not schedule any games on FIFA fixture dates, but the league gave the option of moving a game, by mutual consent only, to one of those dates when other scheduling conflicts could not be resolved. As a result, a few games will occur on select FIFA fixture dates.
- The first game broadcasted by NBC will be on March 11 when FC Dallas faces the New York Red Bulls.
- Due to the unbalanced schedule, the defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy will not play any games in the mid-Atlantic region, meaning no visits to the New England Revolution, D.C. United, Philadelphia Union or New York Red Bulls.
- The Houston Dynamo will play their first seven games of the season on the road before opening their new home, BBVA Compass Stadium, versus D.C. United on May 12.
- After drawing more than 40,000 fans for a game against the New York Red Bulls last season, the San Jose Earthquakes will again host a game at Stanford Stadium this year. The opponent this time will be rival Los Angeles Galaxy on June 30.
- More than 83 percent of all MLS games will take place on weekends or holidays.
What do you think of the schedule? Which matches are you most looking forward to? Which team do you think has the easiest/toughest schedule?
Share your thoughts below.