New Schedule, New Club: Big Day in the MLS

LAFC logo

While there aren’t many people that sit around with January the 7th on their calendar marked, those of us nerdy enough to care about the introduction of the new MLS calendar have been waiting on this since the parades ended in Portland. Sadly, as is the case with anything that I look forward to, the launch of the schedule was teased for the entirety of the day until MLS finally gave us what we were looking for. However, the day was not lost as there was something to satiate any fan of stateside footy: Los Angeles showed off their new club.

A club that won’t be around for a few more years (next year, we get Atlanta United!), LAFC was launched to the world on 1/7/16. Amidst a very classy color scheme and crest, the biggest news from the club has to be the members of their ownership group. While we knew that Magic Johnson and Mia Hamm Garciappara (yes, THAT Mia Hamm) would headline a very influential group of owners, none of us could expect one of the members and his appearance at the club’s launch. About thirty minutes into the presentation, a certain fake step-brother, certain fake Nascar driver, certain fake elf, certain fake newscaster took the stage to talk about his part in the LAFC ownership. Will Ferrell showed up and stole the headlines, giving all of us a small reason to have a second favorite (or maybe new favorite) MLS club.

After the shock and excitement wore off from the LAFC announcement, we (eventually) got to see the upcoming schedule for the 2016 MLS season.

The first thing we are looking forward to is a rematch of the 2015 MLS cup with the Timbers and Crew facing off on the first day of the season. While my wife may be a massive Timbers fan, I think that the year after a championship will be tough for the Portland club. Some are saying Supporter’s Shield challenger…I’m saying they will be lucky to sneak into the playoffs. Also, on Saturday May 7, we get to see the recently traded Brad Davis return to Houston with his new club, Sporting KC. While Davis is one of the most likable people of all time (seriously…all time), this game will show which club is heading in the best direction.

Gerrard scores for Galaxy

The schedule is absolutely chocked full of great rivalry games. There are two stretches of days where, even if you aren’t an MLS fan, you still need to be watching. May 20-22 and August 26-28 have been sponsored AND dubbed Heineken Rivalry Week (because, in the MLS three day stretches constitute a week…and, you know, its not like Heineken sponsors any other massive soccer-related tournaments…oh…wait), and there are going to be some great match ups. In the first round of “Rivalry Week,” we get to see the the battle for the Big Apple between NYCFC and NY Red Bulls (will NYCFC be the real deal this year?) and the California Clasico between the Galaxy and the Earthquakes. I look forward to this game every year (not because I want to be best friends with Stevie G in some form of long, road-trip style film where he’s having to drive non-stop to salvage a relationship and our bond becomes unbreakable…but, if he’s open for that then…) because it still stands for the ultimate showdown between a team constantly improving by bringing in the best, and a team trying to improve from within and with smart, cheap moves.

The second rivalry week also includes the Portland/Seattle rivalry that always has the best Tifo creations in the league, and the Canadian showdown between Toronto and Montreal.

One other thing that the MLS gave us yesterday is actually a strength of schedule chart. The two ends of the spectrum show Colorado with the hardest road, but New York Red Bulls with a markedly easier path. I always find it interesting that clubs in the middle of America (shorter flights to away games) can still have harder schedules than east and west coast teams, but the reasoning behind the chart is very sound. Some teams have to visit the better home clubs and atmospheres (Dallas/Seattle) twice (how does that work Don Garber?) and some have to host some of the better road teams (Vancouver is completely nasty on away trips) twice (seriously Don…how does that work?), resulting in the strength of schedule stuff.

If you are wondering about when you favorite club takes the pitch against your least favorite club, go check out the schedule for yourself! Let us know which games you will be attending and which games you are definitely looking forward to.

 

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About the author: Andrew McCole

 

If I may be so bold to condense my immense personality into two words, it would be: soccer nerd. I love everything about the beautiful game and I tend to reflect that in my writing. I suffer through Liverpool fandom and hope that they will win another title before my wife spreads my ashes at Anfield (considering I'm in my twenties, it seems somewhat likely). Although I also dabble in tennis, teaching, and coaching, most of my free-time is spent writing articles for The Center Circle! Feel free to stalk me on Google+

 

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