Fire open season March 17 in Montreal

The Chicago Fire will appear on national television 13 times during the 2012 season which opens March 17 in the home opener for the expansion Montreal Impact.

This will mark the longest Major League Soccer season with the final played on Dec. 1. The season begins five days earlier than in 2011. Last year's final was Nov. 20.

With the expansion Impact giving the league 19 teams, MLS is switching to an unbalanced schedule while keeping the regular season at 34 games per team.

The Fire's home opener is March 24 at Toyota Park against the Philadelphia Union.

The Fire will appear on national broadcast partners NBC, NBC Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN Deportes and Galavision.

Just seven MLS games conflict with FIFA fixture dates, when many star players are away with national teams: Chicago at New England (June 1); Los Angeles at Columbus; Portland at Toronto and Houston at Vancouver (Aug. 15); Portland at Colorado (Sept. 5); Salt Lake at Houston (Sept. 6); and Chivas USA at Seattle (Sept. 8).