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MLS Rivalry Week has arrived! Also known by its sponsored name, Heineken Rivalry Week, the five days of matches pit foes against one another. Some, like the Seattle-Portland rivalry, go back nearly five decades to the old NASL days. Others, like L.A.’s El Trafico and the New York Derby, are relatively new yet already chock full of narrative.
Here are all the MLS Rivalry Week matches you won’t want to miss, and here’s what you need to know in order to live stream MLS.
MLS Rivalry Week matches to live stream
Wednesday, Aug. 21 (8pm ET): DC United vs. New York Red Bulls, UniMas
Wayne Rooney, heading to player-manage Derby County in England at the start of the New Year, has taken to social media lately to unload on MLS like a disgruntled short-timer employee. (Which, on reflection, he is.) Yet his current team’s playoff aspirations depend largely on him, and this match with a Red Bulls team right next to them in the standings looms large.
Wednesday, Aug. 21 (10:30pm ET): LAFC vs. San Jose Earthquakes, UniMas
This cross-state battle features the best team in MLS this season against a team that, despite a recent cool-off, has been one of its hottest teams. LAFC is the first team to have qualified for this season’s playoffs, with Carlos Vela having a landmark MVP season. San Jose, coached by likely Coach of the Year Matias Almeyda, employs an aggressive man-marking style that makes it must-watch TV.
Thursday, Aug. 22 (9:30pm ET): Sporting Kansas City vs. Minnesota United, ESPN
SKC’s social media team has been pushing the narrative that this is the nicest rivalry in Rivalry Week, but in reality, it features an SKC team fighting for its playoff lives and a Minnesota team that is jockeying for playoff position. New arrival Thomas Chacon is the latest player brought in by Minnesota to bolster the attack; the team looks to be a very tough out in the upcoming MLS Cup run.
Friday, Aug. 23 (8pm ET): Orlando City SC vs. Atlanta United, ESPN
This regional battle got a little more friction in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, with Atlanta besting Orlando on its way to the finals. Atlanta’s the defending MLS Cup champion, and is back to being best in the East after a tumultuous start to the season. Is first-year MLS coach Frank de Boer figuring it out? Or are the players?
Friday, Aug. 23 (10pm ET): Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders, ESPN
Perhaps the best and richest rivalry in MLS, these two teams and their spirited fans have been at it since the ’70s. Brian Fernandez has been a potent addition to the Timbers squad, and thanks to construction to expand their Providence Park home stadium that went into the first part of the season, they’ll get lots of home games in the season’s home stretch. Seattle is still above them in the standings, though, with Raul Ruidiaz and Nicolas Lodeiro leading the way.
Saturday, Aug. 24 (7pm ET): NYCFC vs. New York Red Bulls, ESPN2
The New York Derby may have started with an infamous 7-0 drubbing, but the teams have been on more even footing since then. It seems inevitable the teams will face each other in the upcoming playoffs; a Red Bulls win, depending on if they can get a result against D.C. on Wednesday, will nudge them above their hosts in the standings.
Saturday, Aug. 24 (8:30pm ET): Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact, ESPN+
Canada’s derby is one of the most spirited in MLS Rivalry Week, which is a way to say these fan bases don’t like each other at all. It’s been a trying season for both squads, and yet they’re tied on points in a crowded competition for the last playoff spots. Should just one of these teams ascend to MLS Cup contention, they’ll likely look back to a result in this important showdown as part of the story.
Sunday, Aug. 25 (6pm ET): FC Cincinnati vs. Columbus Crew SC, FS1
This cross-state addition to Rivalry Week was forged when FCC was in USL and the teams were dueling in the Open Cup. Amusingly named the “Hell is Real Derby” (for a “repent, sinners”-style billboard on the interstate joining the two cities), the showdown likely won’t have playoff implications given the teams’ struggles in 2019. FC Cincinnati’s had a rough go of it in its debut MLS season, while the Crew is having a strange season fresh off a switch in ownership allowing the team to remain in Columbus. The match will, to its credit, feature a big, lively home crowd packing into the one-of-a-kind Nippert Stadium.
Sunday, Aug. 25 (8pm ET): FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo, FS1
The Texas Derby has built a solid history so far, starting in 2006 when the original Bay Area team (first the Clash, then the Quakes) moved to Houston, became the Dynamo, and won back-to-back MLS Cups in its new home. This season, FC Dallas has been on the front foot, with young USMNT hopeful Paxton Pomykal having a breakout season, while the Dynamo has just parted ways with head coach Wilmer Cabrera after the team’s mid-season swoon.
Sunday, Aug. 25 (10:30pm ET): LAFC vs. LA Galaxy, FS1
Fans rose to the occasion when LAFC entered the league and dubbed the crosstown battle with the Galaxy El Trafico. The initial battle between the teams saw LAFC go up 3-0 before Zlatan Ibrahimovic took over, tying the match on a long-distance volley and heading in the winner. Since that 4-3 classic, the rivalry’s taken on a pitched tenor, and it’s now become an essential Rivalry Week match. It’ll close out an amazing triple-header of MLS action on FS1.
2019 MLS live stream: Watch MLS matches online
MLS matches are broadcast on an array of networks, including ESPN, FS1, TUDN, and UniMas (carrying an assortment of matches with a SAP option for English-speaking viewers), and ESPN+ (carrying regional feeds for a national audience seeking Saturday soccer). No matter what service you decide to try, it offers a free one-week trial.
- Cost: $4.99 per month or $49.99 for 12 months
- Devices: Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku players and TV, Oculus Go, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Samsung smart TVs, and iOS and Android devices
ESPN+ is a subscription service that extends ESPN’s existing website and app, and it’s essential for soccer fans, in particular, carrying all MLS matches not on ESPN or FS1, as well as Serie A+, USL, Copa America, and FA Cup matches. It encompasses other sporting events as well, including 20 exclusive UFC Fight Night events per year, 180 NHL games, at least one MLB game a day for every day of the season, and a cornucopia of college sports.
ESPN+ also features the network’s sports talk programming, and it features original series starting with the entire 30 for 30 catalog ESPN made its name on. It also unlocks more content and fewer ads on the ESPN site.
2) Sling TV
- Sling TV pricing: $25-$40 per month (40% first month)
- Sling TV devices: Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Xbox One, Google Chromecast, Oculus Go, Microsoft Edge, and iOS and Android devices
- Sling TV local channels: NBC, Fox (check your local availability here)
Sling TV provides two base channel package options, each priced at $25 per month. Sling Orange includes three ESPN channels, while Sling Blue includes sports channels like NFL Network, FS1 and FS2, NBCSN, and local channels. If you’re Team “Why Not Both,” Sling Orange + Blue combines the two for just $40 per month. To add beIN SPORTS and maximize your soccer-watching potential, you’ll want to add either Sports Extra: Sling Orange ($5 per month) or Sports Extra: Sling Blue ($10 per month). (The latter also includes NFL RedZone.)
Spanish-speaking viewers have quite a few options. For bilingual families, you might consider the Español: Best of Spanish TV package for either Sling Orange or Sling Blue for 24/7 specialty channel LaLiga TV and beIN SPORTS Connect: Channels 4-9, which features matches from LaLiga, Ligue 1, and Copa del Rey, among others. Both packages cost $5 per month after your free trial. Sling TV Latino is another Spanish-language package for $10 per month, including NBC Universo, History en Español, and—of import to soccer fans—four beIN SPORTS channels. (And choosing Sling TV Latino + Sling Orange for $30 per month gives you access to ESPN Deportes.) For more information, check out our guide to Sling TV channels and our Sling TV review.
- Cost: $44.99 for the first month, $54.99 per month thereafter (after a 7-day free trial)
- FuboTV devices: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Android TV, iOS and Android devices
- FuboTV local channels: Fox, NBC, CBS (check local availability here)
FuboTV is a solid TV streaming service option, whether your tastes run to entertainment (AMC, Syfy, FX), news (MSNBC, CNN), or sports (NBA TV, NFL Network). If you’re a soccer fan, however, it will appear tailor-made for you, with FS1 for MLS action, 10 beIN SPORTS channels, NBCSN, FS2, UniMás, Champions League action via TNT, and Copa America action via Telemundo and Universo all on tap. If you can’t watch a match live, FuboTV offers a three-day replay for each match and 30 hours of cloud DVR. (Check out the complete FuboTV channels list.)
FuboTV also has bilingual families in mind; each subscription comes with UniMás, Galavisión, NBC Universo, beIN SPORTS, Univision, and Fox Deportes. An extra $7.99 per month will bring you Latino Plus, which includes CNN en Español and TyC Sports among its offerings.
- Cost: $44.99-$79.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- PlayStation Vue devices: PlayStation 3 and 4, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Kodi, iOS and Android devices
- PlayStation Vue local channels: NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS (enter your ZIP code here to check your availability)
PlayStation Vue is a fantastic option for soccer fans who already own a PlayStation console, but this streaming platform is available on a variety of devices. ESPN and FS1, where you’ll find MLS matches, are part of the Core package of channels, which offers soccer and other sports programming, and the options increase at the Elite and Ultra levels.
- Cost: $44.99 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- Hulu devices: Roku, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch, and iOS and Android devices
- Hulu local channels: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, the CW (check your local availability here)
Hulu with Live TV includes sports programming among its offerings, including MLS matches on ESPN and FS1, and as a subscriber to the service, you’ll get free access to Hulu’s sizable on-demand library. (Check out the full list of Hulu Live TV channels.)
6) YouTube TV
- Cost: $50 per month (after a 7-day free trial)
- YouTube TV devices: Google Chromecast, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Xbox One, iOS and Android devices
- YouTube TV local channels: NBC, CBS, Fox, ABC, the CW (enter your ZIP code here to check your availability)
YouTube TV is a great option for soccer fans, including ESPN and FS1 and broadcasting partnerships with three MLS teams for MLS matches, TNT for Champions League matches and NBCSN for Premier League matches. (Take a look at the full list of YouTube TV channels here.)
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Phil West is a sports reporter and the author of two books on soccer, ‘The United States of Soccer,’ and ‘I Believe That We Will Win,’ both from The Overlook Press. His work has appeared most recently in MLSSoccer.com, Pro Soccer USA, Texas Highways, and Howler. Based in Austin, he is also a lecturer in the Writing Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.