The Union will have their first reunion with Fafa Picault right out of the gate in 2020.
Major League Soccer announced the slate of home openers leaguewide Thursday, including the Union’s visiting Picault’s FC Dallas on Feb. 29. It’s the earliest season kickoff in MLS history, designed to avoid a jammed calendar with the playoffs now in October.
Though it’s a dramatic start to the campaign, it wasn’t a deliberate plot. MLS had the schedule in the works well before Dallas acquired Picault in a sign-and-trade deal last week. But it’s certainly a game that will bring the team immediate attention.
The Union’s home opener is set for two weeks later, March 14, against the San Jose Earthquakes. It will be a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, so get ready to bundle up.
What will happen on the weekend between those games wasn’t announced, but it’s safe to bet the Union will be on the road somewhere. They won’t be playing in another team’s home opener, or MLS would have announced the matchup.
The Union’s 2020 local television contract still hasn’t been confirmed. PHL17′s previous TV deal ran out at the end of this season.
MLS is expanding by two teams in 2020, adding Nashville SC and Inter Miami, but the schedule length will remain at 34 games. Teams will play conference foes once each, home and away, and one contest each against 10 of 13 teams in the other conference.
It’s the first time ever that an MLS season won’t have every team facing every other team at least once. We’ll know which matchups won’t happen when the full schedule is released. That is expected to happen before the end of the year.
It won’t be surprising if the league’s national TV partners — ESPN, Fox and Univision — have a say in the matter. And the TV networks are raising the stakes. MLS commissioner Don Garber said after Thursday’s Board of Governors meeting that there will be “way more” games on over-the-air broadcast networks in 2020 “than we’ve ever had in the history of the league.”
That is expected to include regular-season games on ABC for the first time since 2008, along with Fox and Univision’s slates on their flagship channels.
MLS’s 2020 opening weekend will feature a raft of big games, headlined by Nashville SC hosting southern neighbor Atlanta United on Feb. 29. Nashville will play at the Tennessee Titans’ Nissan Stadium for two years, then move to their own new home in 2022.
On March 1, there will be two big games. Star-studded Los Angeles FC, last year’s Supporters’ Shield winner, will host Miami, and the Seattle Sounders will raise their MLS Cup banner while hosting the Chicago Fire.
Inter Miami, part-owned by David Beckham, will play its home opener March 14 against Beckham’s old team, the Los Angeles Galaxy. Miami’s first home will be a new stadium in Fort Lauderdale on the site of the old Lockhart Stadium, where the Miami Fusion played in MLS from 1998 to 2001. Miami aspires to build a swanky venue in the city, but it still has many political hurdles to clear.
Chicago will make headlines for something other than its controversial new logo when it returns to Soldier Field after 14 years in suburban Bridgeview. The Fire’s first game back in the city is set for March 21 against Atlanta United.
Home teams listed first.
1 p.m.: D.C. United vs. Colorado Rapids
3 p.m.: Montreal Impact vs. New England Revolution*
3:30 p.m.: Houston Dynamo vs. Los Angeles Galaxy
5:30 p.m.: San Jose Earthquakes vs. Toronto FC
6 p.m.: FC Dallas vs. Philadelphia Union
6 p.m.: Orlando City vs. Real Salt Lake
8 p.m.: Nashville SC vs. Atlanta United
10:30 p.m.: Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Sporting Kansas City
* — Montreal will open the season indoors at Olympic Stadium, playing its league opener and Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 game there. Stade Saputo, the club’s home stadium, will reopen in April.
12:30 p.m.: Columbus Crew vs. New York City FC
1 p.m.: New York Red Bulls vs. FC Cincinnati
3 p.m.: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Chicago Fire FC
5:30 p.m.: Los Angeles FC vs. Inter Miami
7:30 p.m.: Portland Timbers vs. Minnesota United
1:30 p.m.: New England Revolution vs. Chicago Fire
2 p.m.: Real Salt Lake vs. New York Red Bulls
5 p.m.: Toronto FC vs. New York City FC
7 p.m.: Atlanta United vs. FC Cincinnati
8:30 p.m.: Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo
9 p.m.: Colorado Rapids vs. Orlando City
10 p.m.: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
12:30 p.m.: New York City FC vs. FC Dallas
2:30 p.m.: Inter Miami vs. Los Angeles Galaxy
5:30 p.m.: FC Cincinnati vs. D.C. United
7:30 p.m.: Philadelphia Union vs. San Jose Earthquakes
7 p.m.: Minnesota United vs. New York Red Bulls