The nation will be able to watch as Seattle and Portland shift their longtime soccer rivalry to Major League Soccer.
The MLS schedule released Thursday shows five nationally televised games for Sounders FC, including the season-opener against Los Angeles and both Cascadia Cup matches against the expansion Timbers.
All league teams will play 34 games, made up of home-and-away series against the other 17 teams.
For the third straight season, the First Kick game will take place at Qwest Field, where the Galaxy will visit at 6:30 p.m. March 15 in a game to be telecast by ESPN.
Four days later, the Sounders will play their first road game of the season against the Red Bulls in New York.
The four Cascadia Cup matches will have Portland visiting Seattle on May 14 and Vancouver on June 11. The Sounders will go to Portland’s renovated PGE Park on July 10 and Vancouver’s temporary home at Empire Field on Sept. 24.
Other highlights in the schedule include a July 4 game at Los Angeles, a July 16 visit from the MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids, and an Aug. 6 visit to Sporting KC’s new soccer-specific stadium. Seattle’s third regular season will end Oct. 22 at Chivas USA.
The Sounders’ longest homestand will cluster games against Portland, Kansas City and Dallas from May 14-25.
The club will make six two-game trips, but none longer.
“We have got one tough road trip in there with D.C. United and Columbus coming in the same week, so that means you are on the road for about seven days in a row,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “The other thing you got as you look at the schedule is sometimes you wish you could have more night games at home.
“Overall, I think the spacing of the schedule is good. I think the mix of home and away is good.”
All games will be televised live on KING/5, KONG/6 or as part of the MLS national broadcast package.
Leaguewide, about 82 percent of MLS games will take place on weekends or holidays, although every day of the week will be used at least once during the season. March 26 will set a record for most league games in a single day, with all 18 clubs in action.
No games are scheduled Aug. 10, Sept. 3-4, and Oct. 8-9, leaving those dates open for international competition.
The Columbus Crew kicked the Sounders, 3-0, Thursday in a training game over periods of 45, 45 and 30 minutes.
Columbus’ goals came from Andrew Mendoza, Jeff Cunningham and an own goal by Zach Scott.
Seattle fell to 1-1 with one more Arizona training game Saturday against Chivas USA.
“I have got to see some fighting power when they come back on Saturday, that little bit of desire, that, ‘Hey, the result didn’t go the way we wanted it to go,’ ” Schmid said of his players.
“But we are continuing to build fitness as well so we are going to continue to do that also.”
The club will return to Puget Sound for three days of training next week before traveling to Florida for another round of preseason friendlies.
SOUNDERS FC 2011 SCHEDULE
March 15Los Angeles6:30 p.m.
March 19 at New York4:30 p.m.
March 26Houston7 p.m.
April 2at San Jose7:30 p.m.
April 9Chicago1 p.m.
April 16at Philadelphia1 p.m.
April 22 at Colorado6:30 p.m.
April 30 Toronto7 p.m.
May 4at DC United4:30 p.m.
May 7at Columbus4:30 p.m.
May 14Portland8 p.m.
May 21Kansas City7 p.m.
May 25Dallas7 p.m.
May 28at Real Salt Lake6 p.m.
June 4at Chicago5:30 p.m.
June 11Vancouver7 p.m.
June 18at Toronto4 p.m.
June 23New York7 p.m.
June 26New England1 p.m.
July 4at Los Angeles7:30 p.m.
July 10 at Portland2 p.m.
July 16Colorado1 p.m.
July 23Philadelphia7 p.m.
July 30 at Houston5:30 p.m.
Aug. 6at Kansas City5:30 p.m.
Aug. 13Chivas USA1 p.m.
Aug. 20at Dallas6 p.m.
Aug. 27Columbus1 p.m.
Sept. 10Salt Lake1 p.m.
Sept. 17 DC United6 p.m.
Sept. 24 at Vancouver4:30 p.m.
Oct. 1at New England4:30 p.m.
Oct. 15San Jose7 p.m.
Oct. 22at Chivas USA7:30 p.m.