MLS schedules are about to come out. Where will D.C. United play its home opener?
MLS is sort of prepared to announce the 2018 home openers for all 23 groups, however with Audi Field not scheduled to open till the summer season, the placement of D.C. United’s first home match — and some further video games — stays unclear.
In all chance, the league will quickly set United’s first date and opponent with out figuring out the placement. The membership would then proceed weighing stadium choices and announce the venue in subsequent weeks. MLS is aiming to announce the home openers earlier than Christmas and the entire schedule someday subsequent month.
United has been lobbying to play each home match on the 20,000-capacity stadium in Southwest D.C., packing 17 video games into the final 4 months of the season. As we’ve reported, nevertheless, the league is reluctant to accomplish that due to scheduling issues and considerations about affording one workforce a protracted stretch of home dates over the past a part of the common season.
So United has been exploring alternatives, from Delaware to North Carolina, in anticipation of getting to play between two and 4 off-site home video games between early March and early June. Without any home dates, D.C. would find yourself enjoying not less than 12 consecutive away matches to begin the yr; the league file is 10.
MLS is anticipated to mandate the precise variety of various home video games for United within the coming weeks.
Both the workforce and league have identified since final winter’s groundbreaking that Audi Field wouldn’t be prepared till summer season 2018; the tentative debut is June 30. Construction is on schedule, United officers say.
With the schedule in flux, the workforce didn’t need to remark at the moment on the prospects of enjoying at secondary venues. However, it’s changing into clearer which areas are within the working and which have been dominated out:
* Annapolis: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium seems to be a front-runner for not less than one recreation. An academy spokesman mentioned final month that the edges have engaged in talks.
Positives: It’s within the metro space (30 miles from the U.S. Capitol), offers a pleasant day outing for followers from close to and much, and the venue dimension is appropriate for United’s functions (34,000 capability).
Negatives: synthetic turf and attainable scheduling conflicts with the Navy males’s and girls’s lacrosse groups, which are home on a number of Saturdays: March 10, 17 and 31, and April 7 and 28. (United may play on a Sunday.) In addition, the Washington Capitals will play the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL out of doors recreation March three. (The MLS season commences March 2-Four.)
* College Park: It’s an amazing location, simply contained in the Beltway, however comes up brief in vital areas. Capitol One Field at Byrd Stadium, a 51,000-seat soccer venue, is just too slim for soccer requirements. It’s additionally coated with synthetic turf. Across the parking tons, Ludwig Field, home of the soccer applications, can accommodate solely about 7,500 and lacks correct locker rooms and different infrastructure.
* Montgomery County: The stadium area at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds affords a flawlessly manicured grass floor and a beautiful, relaxed setting with seating areas on a grass embankment behind one aim. However, with a capability of 5,200, it will not generate the mandatory ticket gross sales and game-day income. United has performed many U.S. Open Cup matches there over time, however these match video games are exterior regular scheduling and don’t determine into common season budgeting and income.
* Richmond: It’s 110 miles, however on most traffic-jammed days on I-95, it looks like 1,100. So if United determined to play at City Stadium, home of its second-division associates often known as the Kickers, the membership would have to market primarily to followers within the Richmond and Hampton Roads areas. The stadium is able to holding 22,000 spectators, however one aspect is now not in use and would require upgrades. Consequently, United would have to intention for a capability crowd of about 10,000.
* Washington: The Nationals, who will change into United’s neighbors when Audi Field is full, apparently have little interest in disrupting baseball operations for a soccer match. Even in the event that they have been open to the concept, United would most likely balk on the price.
Meantime, RFK Stadium, the place United performed for 22 seasons, sits vacant. It could be logistically seamless for the membership, which will proceed utilizing the locker room, weigh room, basement places of work and observe fields for not less than one other yr or two till possession builds a coaching facility. However, RFK is just not getting ready the sector for any sporting occasions within the close to future. One supply acquainted with the state of affairs mentioned United would play at RFK once more “only in the case of emergency.”
* Baltimore: United has had conversations with the Orioles about enjoying at Camden Yards, which has by no means staged a soccer recreation. But these talks haven’t made a lot progress. M&T Bank Stadium, an occasional worldwide soccer venue, will endure additional renovations through the NFL’s offseason.
* Landover: United has apparently had no talks with the Redskins about utilizing FedEx Field, which is just too massive for its functions and costly to hire.
* Elsewhere within the Mid-Atlantic: United has thought-about WakeMed Soccer Park, a 10,000-seater with grass within the Raleigh suburb of Cary, N.C., and Delaware Stadium, a 22,000-capacity, school soccer venue with synthetic turf. However, Newark, Del., is deep contained in the Philadelphia Union’s advertising and marketing territory.
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