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IS IT SOCCER SEASON YET?

Photo: Paul Rudderow

With the release of the Union’s 2012 regular season schedule, I, along with my colleagues at the PSP, am buzzing about the prospects of the new season. Just 66 more days (stupid leap year) until the Union take the pitch in Portland to get Year Three underway. In the meantime, now that MLS has thrown out last year’s balanced schedule (take that purists) we have plenty to talk about with respect to the construction of the 2012 Union schedule.

Two Home Red Bulls Matches

Assuming Tim Ream does not run off to England to hide from this well publicized gaffe at PPL Park, he will get not one, but TWO chances to make another one. With the new weighted schedule, the Union will face the Red Bulls twice at home in 2012. Sunday, May 13, the rivalry will be renewed, on ESPN2, and will serve to whet the appetites of Union fans who can’t wait until the final match of the season to see our boys dish it out to New York. Additionally, Union fans will have the opportunity to storm Red Bull Arena on Saturday, July 21.

Home Rivalries, Longer Road Trips

While two home matches against regional rivals New York, DC, Columbus and New England are great for the home supporters, it means that two trips each must be made to the Eastern Conference’s more remote outposts in Toronto, Chicago and Houston. Ultimately, the extra travel amounts to only a few more hours on the plane, but over the course of a long season, those miles can add up.

Friendly Break?

With no fixtures on either of the first two weekends of June, the Union’s front office will likely look to plug in friendlies during that twenty-day hiatus. Regardless of whether they are able to schedule one or two high profile matches during that period, it is extremely confusing that MLS would give three weeks off to a team that will later be forced to endure more than one three game week…

Oh What a Week – Part 1

Good lord. Somehow MLS has concocted not one, but two sets of three matches in eights days for the Union.

The first is an absolute nightmare with respect to travel (something that I was led to believe this whole weighted schedule was meant to avoid). On Saturday, June 30, the Union travel to Livestrong Park to battle last year’s top Eastern Conference point leaders, Sporting KC. Four days later the Union face the reigning champion Galaxy in Carson, CA on Wednesday, July 4 before hustling back across the country for a home fixture with Toronto FC on Sunday. Yuck.

No David Beckham

Sorry, Pam (and everyone else who gets their jollies seeing Golden Balls in person). With only one match against the Western Conference foes, sadly, assuming he re-signs, the Los Angeles Beckhams will not be making a trip to PPL Park in 2012. Yes, he’s a big draw, but to be honest, watching LA’s cohort of diving, complaining prima donnas is best done through the safety of your television set.

That said, the timing of the Union’s one fixture against LA is indeed peculiar, 10:30pm the night of July 4th. Assuming you manage to stay awake following a day of celebrating our great country’s independence, keep that barbecue buzz going through the night with the Union. Though, as mentioned above, the Union will be playing on less than four days rest.

A rest from the West

If the only downside of playing teams from the Western Conference once is that we miss out on a visit from Beckham, that is a beautiful thing. While the East looks set to have a much better season this year than last, there cannot be too many complaints about squaring off with the likes of Seattle, Dallas, RSL and Colorado only once during the 2012 campaign.

Minimal Impact

Circle Saturday July 14 on your calendars as the first time the Montreal Impact bring their new club smell and one man goon squad, aka Brian Ching, to town. Let’s hope Jesse Marsch brings more to the table than the soon to be 34-year-old Hawaiian that he kidnapped from Houston. If not, it could be a stroll in the park for the Union, not that an easy three points would be a bad thing. And Justin Mapp will be back in town… Moving on. Depending on Caleb Porter’ plans for the Olympic team, this could also be the final pre-London match for any Union participants and will therefore be a great chance to give our boys a rousing send off.

Mind the Gap (The London Olympics 2012)

The tournament itself runs from July 25 until August 11, and with at least a week of camp prior, it is likely that any Union members of the 2012 Olympic squad will miss home matches against New England and Chicago, and away fixtures at New York and Montreal. If the team gathers earlier, Montreal’s visit to PPL Park could also be a miss for our boys in red, white and blue.

Oh What a Week – Part 2

The final week of the season is an absolute disaster. Especially considering how MLS tends towards the absurd and usually schedules the first round of the playoffs less than a week after the season’s conclusion. If the Union are to make the postseason, and they should, we will all hope they can wrap it up before that final week of death. Otherwise they will have to fight it out with arguably the top three Eastern Conference teams outside of Philadelphia. Trips to Houston on Saturday, October 20 and Kansas City four days later will be followed by the season finale at home against the Red Bulls on October 28. Seeing as the world is not perfect and no one is expecting the Union to wrap up the top spot in the Eastern Conference with three games to go, this amounts to essentially three extra playoff games. It will be interesting to see whether the Union can maintain momentum throughout.

Nationally Televised Soccer? Yes! We Approve!

The 2012 calendar features 14 nationally televised matches between NBC, NBC Sports, ESPN, ESPN2 and Galavision. Two of those games, both against the Red Bulls, will be on network TV, the July 21 away fixture will air on ESPN, while the season finale will air on NBC.

The 2012 season is nearly upon us! How does this schedule strike you? Which matches have you circled on your calendar?

4 Comments

  1. Only thing I can say is “This is better than a balanced schedule?” This shit is insane. For a league that values getting new people into the sport via big name stars pity the teams that don’t get LA but will get to see teams like New England.

  2. This is better than a balanced schedule for teams on the West Coast. It was done for the successful new market teams, like Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver, who will save a ton on travel expenses. This isn’t Europe, where all of the games are around the corner. Obviously, a balanced table is better, but if there are playoffs anyway, it is less of a big deal.

  3. True, one of the first things I noticed was the lack of a home game against the Galaxy but I won’t turn in my season tickets over it. Good excuse for a road trip to LA over the long 4th of July weekend – any of my fellow fans interested in getting their ‘jollies seeing Golden Balls in person’ … let me know;)

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