I've been arguing lately that one of the biggest reasons why FC Dallas was so successful in 2015 was because of their schedule. From March until October, the club had a fairly balanced set of games to deal with. Sure, there was the five-game stretch that put them on the road but other than that, everything was pretty simple.
That may not be the case in 2016. From additional games late in the year in the Champions League, to breaks for Copa America, this will be one challenging year for FC Dallas.
Last year FC Dallas had very few midweek games to deal with in the league. In fact they didn't have any regular season midweek games until October when they had two in a row.
That number will double this year as FCD will have three Wednesday night and one Thursday night game to deal with. You could make the case for a fifth if you want to include that Monday game on July 4.
Front loaded with games against the East
Just like we've seen over the last couple of season, the front part of the schedule is starting to be more heavy with games against Eastern Conference foes. This is to help build up those rivalry and conference matches late in the season (which is something I actually love that MLS does).
FCD was a whopping 7-2-1 last year against teams in the East. FCD has four out of the first five against teams from the other side of the league table this year, with three of the four being at home. Given how well the club did last year at home and against the East, getting hot out of the gate is a real possibility this season.
We knew this year that the Texas Derby would be flipped to have two games in Houston instead of just one like last year. FCD has to go to Houston right out of the gate in Week 2 and will do so again in late August. The big thing to note about this year's schedule with Houston is that two of the games will be on Saturday this year, unlike the Friday night games we had with them a year ago. The lone difference is the Thursday night game in early June before the Copa America break.
I'm not sure if this has anything to do with some Toyota Stadium construction that will kick off this year as the Hall of Fame comes into play, but between mid-April and May, we're going to be seeing FCD on the road a lot. Six of the nine games in that span will be played away from our friendly confines, with three of those on the west coast and one to Toronto for their home opener.
A mid-season break?
Yes, there is a time off period on the books for Copa America between June 3rd and 18th, but that is likely a spot where we'll see at least one US Open Cup game be played.
Late summer stay in Frisco
Because of the road-heavy spring, FCD will get a nice break from traveling late in the year. In the final 11 games, FCD leaves Texas just three times (four out of the 11 total games are on the road).
There are some good matchups in that mix as well as FCD stays home in the fall. Plenty of games where FCD can earn a lot of points and begin that prep for the run into the post season.
Road to MLS Cup playoffs
The first thing that jumped out at me on Thursday when the schedule was released was the final month of the season. Typically that is a month I gravitate towards when the schedules are released as it is always a good way to see if it is set up to help or hurt your club going into the playoffs.
This year, its brutal. At least now it is on paper with two games against the LA Galaxy and one against the Seattle Sounders. Right now, we assume those two teams will be in the thick of things this year in the Western Conference. But given how both teams are aging quite a bit, maybe it will be a good thing to have them at the end of the year when they've run out of gas. We'll certainly see.
The one wrinkle worth mentioning that we don't have official word on is the CONCACAF Champions League. The two things we don't know are yet are who FCD is playing and when they will be playing in the group stage. If last year is any indication, the group stage will begin in early August and run through October.