SCORESHEET/Portland's 2019 MLS schedule loaded with games at under-renovation Providence Park during second half of season

Portland Timbers fans will be kept busy this summer.

After spending their spring on tour — playing their first 12 games on the road — the Timbers will play their first 2019 home match on June 1 against Los Angeles FC.

From Aug. 10 to Sept. 25, Portland will play 10 home games in a row, including games against Atlanta United and Seattle.

The 12 games on the road to open the season are necessary because of the ongoing expansion project that will add about 4,000 seats to the east side of Providence Park.

The Timbers can use D.C. United in 2018 as an example of how to handle the quirky schedule. United opened its new stadium on July 14 and went 12-2-2 at Audi Field down the stretch to surge into the playoffs.

Atlanta, which beat Portland last month in the MLS Cup championship match, visits on Aug. 18, followed by Seattle on Aug. 23.

Portland's season opens March 3 at Colorado and ends on Oct. 6 at home against San Jose.

Notable games among the dozen trips to start the season include a March 17 visit to expansion side FC Cincinnati, which has former Timbers Fanendo Adi and Alvas Powell, and an April 20 match at Columbus. The Crew recently hired Caleb Porter as their coach.

A unique aspect of the 2019 MLS season is that it will have a balanced schedule. Each team will play its 11 conference opponents once at home and once on the road. Each club will play all 12 teams from the opposite conference once, six at home and six on the road.

That balance won't last. Nashville and Miami are scheduled to become the 25th and 26th clubs in 2020, and the league intends to add two more teams to bring the total to 28. 

College football: The Big Sky's Eastern Washington made it to the FCS championship game before coming up short, 38-24, on to North Dakota State, which has won seven of the last eight national titles. The game drew 17,802 Saturday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

Eastern Washington has finished in the top four six times in the last nine years — and figures to be the Big Sky favorite in 2019. The Eagles, who will open Aug. 31 at Washington, return quarterback Eric Barriere, a dual threat who took over as a sophomore for injured senior star Gabe Gubrud this season.

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