Even though most of the major professional sports are in the thick of their offseason, it’s a great time to be a sports fan if you follow Major League Soccer. As we push on into the month of August, we enter one of the best parts of the year for MLS: a month which includes the league’s All-Star Game and Rivalry Week.

For those of you who aren’t diehard fans of the sport, you might not have heard of Rivalry Week. No worries! We’ve got you covered with a quick and easy breakdown of one of the best events in soccer.

What is Rivalry Week?

Rivalry Week is a one-week stretch during the MLS Schedule which pits rival teams against each other – providing for some of the best matches of the regular season.

Most of the featured rivalries revolve around teams’ proximity to each other or longtime playoff foes facing off yet again. Given the increased viewership and intensity surrounding these matches, the games can get chippy in nature due to the added pressure. This makes for must-see matchups.

Major League Soccer itself heavily promotes its slate of rivalry games and they, in turn, encourage teams to bump up their game-day atmosphere with different promotions in an effort to capitalize on increased visibility.

When is Rivalry Week Taking Place?

This year’s iteration is set to take place from August 22 through the 26.

How Long Has Rivalry Week Been Around For?

The first ever official Rivalry Week took place back in 2013. With each passing year, the rivalries get increasingly more intense, which in turn gives the fans better soccer games to watch. This year’s set of games will almost certainly be the best in the history of Rivalry Week.

Where Can I Watch Rivalry Week Matches?

This year’s games will be broadcast on several different platforms which include Fox Sports 1, Unimas, TSN and ESPN.

Rivalry Week 2018 Schedule

August 22 – NYCFC vs. New York Red Bulls – 7 P.M. EST on FS1
August 23 – Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas – 9 P.M. EST on Unimas
August 24 – Orlando City vs. Atlanta United – 8 P.M. EST on ESPN
August 24 – LA Galaxy vs. LAFC – 10 P.M. EST on ESPN
August 25 – Toronto FC vs. Montreal Impact – 8 P.M. EST on TSN
August 26 – New York Red Bulls vs. DC United – 7 P.M. EST on FS1
August 26 – Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders – 9:30 P.M. EST on FS1

If you’re looking to attend one of these matches live, SeatGeek has you covered for all of your ticketing needs.

Which Games Are Worth Watching This Year?

If you have the time, we highly recommend watching as many of these games as possible, but there are a couple of standout fixtures.

The match between NYCFC and the Red Bulls will surely be a fantastic affair as the two sides have had a heated rivalry ever since NYCFC joined the league back in 2015. Dubbed the “Hudson River Derby,” the two New York City teams are both eager to prove they’re the dominant team in the Big Apple.

Another cross-town derby worth tuning into is the game on August 24 between the Los Angeles Galaxy and LAFC. This star-studded affair will likely feature world-class players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Vela. The two Southern California based sides have played each other twice already in 2018, scoring 11 goals in their two meetings so far. This game should feature a hearty amount of attacking play, which is sure to please neutral fans and diehards alike.

Which Players Should I Keep an Eye Out For?

In addition to the previously mentioned Ibrahimovic and Vela, there are plenty of other big-named players worth tuning in to see.

Atlanta United has been one of the most exciting teams to watch since coming into the league in 2017, and their star striker Josef Martinez is on pace to set the single-season MLS goal record. The Venezuelan forward has tallied 24 goals in 23 games, including 10 goals in his last six. Martinez needs just four goals in his next 11 games to break the record.

England and Manchester United’s all-time leading goal scorer Wayne Rooney made his way stateside earlier this summer. He’ll be in action on the 26th for D.C. United in their tilt against the New York Red Bulls. The 32-year-old is still working on getting his fitness up but he’s already made an impact in the nation’s capital, scoring his first goal against his former teammate Tim Howard en route to a 2-1 United win on July 28.