OK, after a long wait MLS announced their 2011 regular season schedule today. You can see the full calender here:
A couple of things jumped out at me right away, first we don't end the season with a match against Colorado. That does away with a tradition that had gotten very popular with the fans, also Colorado hosted the 2nd leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup in 2010 and again they get the advantage of being the home team in the 2nd leg again. The first match will be at Rio Tinto on Wednesday, April 13th, not sure if I like one of our big rivalry matches being midweek but what can you do? The second match will be at Dick's on Friday, October 14th, which of course make it difficult for many fans to make the annual trip to out cheer the Rapids fans. I know you can't get everything when you schedule but it seems like the Rocky Mountain Cup (what MLS labeled as the "Best Rivalry in MLS") doesn't matter as much.
more after the jump:
So looking beyond the Rocky Mountain Cup a couple things jump out at me:
June will be a very busy month for RSL as they have 6 matches in 21 days, with half of them on the road.
RSL has qualified for the knockout rounds of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, making my #TheQuad much more of a reality. Does anyone know how we win MLS Cup in 2009 but have to qualify for the LHUSOC in 2010, but by getting knocked out of the playoffs in the first round we automatically qualify to represent MLS in the tournament proper? I am sure it has to have something to do with our regular season schedule, but man if these things were in writing it would be a lot easier for everyone to know what to expect.
I also noticed no huge gaps in the schedule or mention of SuperLiga, so I am hoping it has been put to rest, even if only for the 2011 season.
Some bad news is that RSL will only have 4 home matches in the months of August, September, and October. That is awful scheduling by MLS, given the amount of time they took it simply is sad that they couldn't figure that out better.
And the expected, 8 appearances by the New York Red Bulls on ESPN2 this year, LA shows up 6 times, Seattle 5, and the rest of the league gets the scraps. So once again the TV partner with the most ability to grow the league is only interesting in showing teams they think make good TV and ignore the rest of the league. Come on MLS you can and should demand better.
Over 1/3 of the national broadcast of your league feature New York, while your Champions are on only twice, this is a great way to showcase your league. Of course nobody will know who is in MLS Cup when you don't even feature one of the teams that appeared in it last year, not a single broadcast for FC Dallas. The last 3 winners of MLS Cup, get a total combined 3 appearances in your "match of the week". Yup you are really going to build better ratings by ignoring your own champions like this. This also makes it clear that when and if "the Don" finds someone to bankroll his pipedream of NY2, that you can bet half of all the league's nationally televised matches will feature them and the Red Bulls.
I guess after taking months to figure out a schedule, I had much higher expectations. Perhaps the hash tag joke of Friday won't be Thursday's trending #MLSScheduleIsLateBecause, but it will be #IveLoweredMyMLSexpectationsBecause
OFF MY SOAPBOX