I'll admit, from my playing days to my writing days, I've always been a big believer in the power of a good schedule for a club. Sure a lot goes into a season but a schedule can make and break a club depending on how it is laid out sometimes.
Today was a mini-Christmas for MLS fans. While most were picking on the league early on this morning with priceless Tweets about why the schedule was late this year, the league was putting their final touches on that very schedule. The complaining stopped for a moment once the schedule was finally released but the more you dive into the schedules the more some folks started to complain.
(Read on after the jump)But for fun let's look at this month-by-month shall we?
Sat. March 19, home v. Chicago Fire
Sat. March 26, home v. San Jose Earthquakes
Right off the bat two nice home games for the club. As much of a rivalry the Chicago game is I can't see a way FC Dallas drops that First Kick opener at home.
The Quakes match falls on a big day for the league, all 18 clubs in action on one day (same day as the US-Argentina game btw). Still you have to like FC Dallas's chances in this one to get points.
Sat. April 2, @ Columbus Crew
Sat. April 9, home v. Colorado Rapids
Sun. April 17, @ Portland Timbers
Sat. April 23, @ Vancouver Whitecaps
Three road games, but two are against expansion clubs. The only big match is the MLS Cup rematch against Colorado. You gotta figure Schellas Hyndman and the boys will be looking for revenge in that one. The match against the Crew could be fairly interesting provided they have a full enough team by then (I kid, I kid).
We also get to see our first look of both expansion sides not to mention we'll be able to see former FC Dallas stars Kenny Cooper (Portland) and Atiba Harris (Vancouver).
Sun. May 1, home v. Los Angeles Galaxy
Sat. May 7, @ DC United
Wed. May 11, home v. Toronto FC
Sat. May 14, home v. Philadelphia Union
Sun. May 22, home v. Real Salt Lake
Wed. May 25, @ Seattle Sounders FC
Sat. May 28, @ Houston Dynamo
The club's biggest month. Seven games, four of them at home. Why so many games? Simple, to help the club out when they have extra CONCACAF Champions League games later on in the season. You'll see what I'm talking about in a moment (see June, August, September and October).
This month will either set the club out from the pack in the standings or break them a bit and keep them in the mix with everyone else. The LA, RSL and Seattle games are all going to be tricky. Luckily Dallas does seem to have RSL's number when the club comes to Dallas, so fans will hope that trend continues. Plus RSL could be busy worrying about winning the CCL around that time anyways.
But the potential for more points this month is definitely there with visits from TFC and Philadelphia. The trip to D.C. should also yield positive points as well.
Then we have the Battle for El Capitán at the end of the month. By that point we'll know if Houston is a contender or a pretender for this season.
Sat. June 4, home v. New England Revolution
Sun. June 12, home v. Sporting Kansas City
Sat. June 18, @ Chivas USA
Sat. June 25, home v. Portland Timbers
Four games, three at home and the lone roadie isn't too shabby. Overall this could be the month that Dallas sweeps.
New England is still a team in transition and that should be a win. SKC will be an interesting battle as I think they'll be improved this season. How they do on the road will be interesting consider the amount of games that they start off away from home due to the opening of their new stadium. This game will be right after they go home for the first time all season. Could be interesting to see if they have any gas in the tank or if they are rejuvenated by the new stadium.
Chivas could be tricky given the fact that I think new coach Robin Fraser will revamp that club in a positive way. Could be a dangerous game to say the least.
By this point in the year Portland could be hitting that "expansion wall". At least this will be Kenny Cooper's homecoming, that should be worth coming out to PHP to see.
Sat. July 2, home v Columbus Crew
Sat. July 9, @ Real Salt Lake
Sat. July 16, home v. D.C. United
Wed. July 20, @ Toronto FC
Sat. July 23, @ New York Red Bulls
Sun. July 31, home v. Chivas USA
Busy, busy month for the boys in stripes. Three home and three away seems manageable. I'd say all three home games seem like wins to me or at least positive points. Two of the three road games however are very difficult. Going to Sandy, UT to play RSL is never easy though Hyndman and company have found success where others have not at Rio Tinto Stadium.
This month also marks the first time Dax McCarty plays against Dallas. I do wonder how he will be received when he returns here.
Sat. Aug. 6, @ LA Galaxy
Sat. Aug. 13, @ Philadelphia Union
Sat. Aug 20, home v. Seattle Sounders FC
Sat. Aug 27, @ Sporting Kansas City
Big road month for the club and all are big tests either way. Could be a month the club slows down too. I kind of want to go to KC for that game at the end of the month, just to see their new digs. Got a feeling they'll create a very tough environment to play in up there.
Sun. Sept. 11, @ New England Revolution
Sat. Sept. 17, home v. New York Red Bulls
Sat. Sept. 24, home v. Houston Dynamo
We get a fairly mangeable road game to start off, which by the way if you look at the club is on the road for four of of five games at that point. Thankfully the club returns home for two key battles late in the season. At this point playoff positioning will be up for grabs. No doubt New York will be searching for a Supporter's Shield in my mind this season so this could be a tricky game, as will the Houston game being that it is a rivalry game.
Getting max points out of a month like this will be critical at this juncture in the season too. Not to mention getting by clubs as good as New York and beating a rival at home has to be a good boost for any club.
(Note: This month could get busier with CCL group games should FCD win their play-in games! If that is the case you can expect at least three or four more matches in this month)
Sat. Oct. 1, @ Colorado Rapids
Wed. Oct. 12, @ Chicago Fire
Sat. Oct 15, home v. Vancouver Whitecaps
Sat. Oct 22, @ San Jose Earthquakes
Pretty rough way to finish the year. Three of four on the road. We'll know at this point for sure where the club stands in terms of playoffs and CCL games. You have a MLS Cup rematch, a rivalry match and possibly a club trying to get into the playoffs all on the road.
With two new clubs it meant the schedule increased by a couple games this season. So the point total barrier to get into the playoffs should increase a little bit from last year's mark of 46 points. For arguments sake getting 48 points should get you in the playoffs this season. Should being the key word there.
Given the fairly reasonably start to the season and a coupe light months the club should have no issue getting to that point total this season. Now I don't expect another 19-game unbeaten run this season out of the club (at least not yet) but there are chances for FCD to reel off plenty of points in a row. The summer months and late season months will be tricky though.
I'm still shocked the club got no love in terms of games on ESPN and the fact that they have a few more road games late in the year when they could potentially be in the CCL group phase. The club is only at home four times in the final three months of action. On the flip side they do start with 11 home games before the 4th of July.
I know a lot can change between now and the summer and the summer and the fall for any club. Still Dallas should be a playoff team with this kind of schedule.