Union fans who like having a home game on the opening weekend of the MLS season will get their wish next year, but they’ll have to get out all their layers to be ready for it.
The 2022 campaign will begin at Subaru Park against Minnesota United on Saturday, Feb. 26, at a time still to be determined. It’s the earliest start to a season in MLS history, forced on the league so that the playoffs can be completed before FIFA’s Nov. 14 player release date for the autumn World Cup in Qatar.
The early start will also help the league play as few midweek games as possible to avoid taxing players’ legs, as happened this year with a pileup of games on weekdays and during FIFA windows. There will be at most five midweek game windows next year, with the aim of having one each in May, June and July and two in August.
There are FIFA windows in March (the end of Concacaf’s qualifying tournament), June and September. Teams may reschedule games into the March and June windows if necessary, but they are barred by the league from rescheduling into the September window.
The regular season will end Oct. 9 with the usual Decision Day spectacle of all teams in each conference playing at the same time, then the playoffs will start the following weekend. The championship game is set for Nov. 5, a Saturday.
We also know of two other dates to put on the Union’s calendar, as MLS announced all of its teams’ season openers for next year on Monday.
In the second week of the season, the Union will head to an even colder climate to face Club de Foot Montréal on Saturday, March 5. But the weather won’t be too much of a factor, because the game will be played indoors at Olympic Stadium, the former home of the Expos and the 2015 women’s World Cup. Montréal usually plays a few games there early in each year when it’s too cold to be outdoors at Stade Saputo.
We also learned that the Union will be the inaugural visitors to Nashville SC’s 30,000-seat stadium that will open next year, on Sunday, May 1. That will be a marquee road trip for Union fans.
Coincidentally, that announcement came as the Union wait to find out whether they’ll host Nashville this Sunday in the second round of this year’s playoffs (5:30 p.m., ESPN and ESPN Deportes).
Nashville hosts Orlando City on Tuesday in one of the last games of the first round (8 p.m., FS1 and Fox Deportes), and what could be the home team’s last game at the Titans’ Nissan Stadium.
The full 2022 schedule, including broadcast details, will be announced by the end of the year.
2022 MLS home openers
Saturday, Feb. 26
Time TBD: Union vs. Minnesota United
3:30 p.m.: Columbus Crew vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Los Angeles FC vs. Colorado Rapids
5:30 p.m.: FC Dallas vs. Toronto FC
6 p.m.: Austin FC vs. FC Cincinnati, D.C. United vs. Charlotte FC (next year’s expansion team), San Jose Earthquakes vs. New York Red Bulls, Inter Miami vs. Chicago Fire
7:30 p.m.: Portland Timbers vs. New England Revolution
Sunday, Feb. 27
Time TBD: Seattle Sounders vs. Nashville SC
1 p.m.: Orlando City vs. Club de Foot Montréal
3 p.m.: Atlanta United vs. Sporting Kansas City
5 p.m.: Los Angeles Galaxy vs. New York City FC
7 p.m.: Houston Dynamo vs. Real Salt Lake
Saturday, March 5
1:30 p.m.: New England Revolution vs. FC Dallas
2 p.m.: Toronto FC vs. New York Red Bulls
3:30 p.m.: Sporting Kansas City vs. Houston Dynamo
4 p.m.: Club de Foot Montréal vs. Union (at Olympic Stadium)
6 p.m.: Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City, Colorado Rapids vs. Atlanta United, Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle Sounders, Vancouver Whitecaps vs. New York City FC, Minnesota United vs. Nashville SC, FC Cincinnati vs. D.C. United
8 p.m.: Charlotte FC vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (at Bank of America Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Panthers; both teams have the same owner and will share the stadium)
Saturday, March 12
2 p.m.: New York City FC vs. Club de Foot Montréal
Sunday, March 13
2 p.m.: New York Red Bulls vs. Minnesota United FC
Sunday, May 1
4 p.m.: Nashville SC vs. Union