D.C. United’s schedule promises nearly a planet-worth of travel before healthy home stretch
From the second it broke floor on a new stadium at Buzzard Point final March, D.C. United knew the 16-month building timetable would pressure the workforce to play a heavy load of away matches at first of the 2018 season. Would it break the MLS document of 10 straight on the highway? Or take up momentary residence at close by venues for respite from its travels?
After average calls for over virtually two months, a interval interrupted by two home video games at different venues within the metro space, United will accumulate frequent-flier miles in bulk throughout seven unforgiving weeks. Road journeys are one factor; a bus experience to Philadelphia or a prepare to New York barely register. Road journeys to distant places are fairly one other.
And so away they’ll go . . .
May 12: Salt Lake City, Three,730 spherical journey miles and two time zones.
May 19: San Jose, Four,870 and three time zones.
May 28: Los Angeles, Four,602 and three time zones.
June 9: Seattle, Four,708 and three time zones.
June 30: Boston, 840 and no time change.
July Four: Los Angeles, Four,602 and three time zones.
Total: 23,352, virtually the circumference of Earth.
“I was expecting worse,” Coach Ben Olsen stated. “Look, we all knew this was coming. When I first looked at the schedule, it was ‘Whoa!’ But when you start putting it down on the calendar, those West Coast games are pretty spread out. We’ll get through it.”
The matches are far sufficient aside that United will in all probability come home after each, aside from the final stretch, which might in all probability entail a flight from Boston to L.A.
Of word: MLS not often bundles away video games for the aim of easing travel calls for.
Of insane word: MLS requires groups to virtually at all times fly industrial. There are 4 exceptions per yr. The antiquated purpose is to stop a aggressive imbalance between workforce traders keen to pay for charters and people who aren’t.
United, a thrifty group whereas taking a monetary hit at RFK Stadium, has by no means organized charters. Sorry, rookie, you’ve obtained the center seat once more.
It might’ve been worse: For stadium income functions, membership administration wished MLS to schedule all 17 home video games in a four-month stretch, leaving United with about a dozen away matches between early March and late June.
The 2018 haul contrasts with United’s 2017 slate: D.C. left the Eastern time zone as soon as within the first 4 months. Not that it helped from a aggressive standpoint — United was 5-9-Three on the halfway mark and completed 9-20-5, final within the Eastern Conference and tied for final with the Los Angeles Galaxy within the total standings.
With a cohesive unit getting back from a profitable season, this yr’s schedule wouldn’t appear as imposing. But United was a bust final yr — it by no means had a profitable document, by no means rose above seventh place after the primary week and completed on a 1-5-1 skid — and is within the course of of renovating the roster. Four potential starters have arrived, one other might be a part of quickly and the membership stays available in the market for extra assist, significantly at striker.
With the newcomers needing to combine and MLS’s schedule-maker providing no favors, Olsen will purpose to outlive the highway adventures and choose up most, if not all, obtainable factors within the two early “home” matches — Maryland SoccerPlex and Navy are near being finalized — before settling into the brand new digs. In 2017, United was Three-12-2 on the highway with a minus-25 aim differential.
Although D.C. doesn’t have any taxing journeys for the primary two months, many of the matchups are imposing: high-powered Atlanta, Eastern Conference finalist Columbus, U.S. Open Cup champion Kansas City and MLS Cup champion Toronto.
Both spring home video games are in opposition to 2017 playoff groups: Houston and Columbus. United acquired byes on April 21 and May 5. After a quick journey to Chester, Pa., to start out a seven-game highway swing, United will develop weary of airport terminals in a hurry. It will make its first look at Banc of California Stadium on Memorial Day to play enlargement Los Angeles FC and, 12 days later, go to Seattle for the second straight yr. Last summer time, United blew a three-goal lead at CenturyLink Field and misplaced to the Sounders, Four-Three.
D.C. will then play 15 of its remaining 20 matches at Audi Field (10 on weekends and 5 on Wednesdays). Over the final three months, the one time it should go away the Eastern time zone is for the finale at Chicago.
Nine of the final 11 video games are at home — a good setup if the early-season rigors haven’t already exacted a horrible toll.