The MLS schedule was released last week, which got me thinking about a full-season road trip. No, I won't be taking one, but it is always fun to plan. The MLS is like the NFL, with teams generally playing once a week and mostly on weekends. Unlike the NFL where there are only single games on Thursday and Monday, MLS splits its weekend slate more evenly, with 3 or 4 games on one day and 6 or 7 on the other. This makes it pretty easy to plan a road trip, especially with the geographic distribution of the teams.
There are 20 clubs this season as Chivas USA has folded while Orlando City SC and NYCFC have joined as expansion clubs. That allowed for realignment and there are now 10 teams in both the East and West divisions. Moreover, all but one of these teams is geographically close to at least one other without any area of the country dominating. The Pacific Northwest has Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver; California hosts the L.A. Galaxy and San Jose; the Rockies includes Real Salt Lake, Colorado, and Sporting KC; Houston and Dallas take Texas; Chicago and Columbus constitute the Midwest; Canada contains Montreal and Toronto, and there are now five clubs in the northeast: DC United, Philadelphia, New England, and the two in New York. Only Orlando is orphaned, all alone in Florida.
What this fairly even distribution across the country means is that you can see two games on a weekend in one area and then spend the weekdays driving to the next area to see another two games. The following schedule took me about five minutes to create, simply by starting on the first weekend with Portland and Seattle. I am sure there are more efficient trips, but I'm not going to bother looking for one.
Sat, Mar 7 Salt Lake at Portland Sun, Mar 8 New England at Seattle Fri, Mar 13 Orlando at Houston Sat, Mar 14 Kansas City at Dallas Fri, Mar 20 Dallas at Philadelphia Sat, Mar 21 Montreal at New England Sun, Mar 22 DC United at New York Red Bulls Sat, Mar 28 New York Red Bulls at Columbus Sun, Mar 29 Philadelphia at Chicago Sat, Apr 4 New England at Colorado Sun, Apr 5 Philadelphia at Kansas City Sat, Apr 11 Vancouver at San Jose Sun, Apr 12 Seattle at Los Angeles Sat, Apr 18 Vancouver at Salt Lake Sat, Apr 25 DC United at Vancouver Sat, May 2 Columbus at DC United Sun, May 3 Seattle at New York City FC Sat, May 9 Portland at Montreal Sun, May 10 Houston at Toronto Sun, May 17 Los Angeles at Orlando
Assuming you start and finish in Portland, you'd be driving around 19,300 highway miles, more than I did on my NFL trip in 2013, mainly because you are making four cross country trips. Again, this is just for fun, if I were to do this I would spend a lot more time planning it. You might also notice that this schedule coincides nicely with the NHL and NBA playoff push as well as the first month of baseball not to mention March Madness (regional sites in Pittsburgh and Cleveland are easy to get to), so you can see sports pretty much every day in between the soccer games. I guess what this shows is that if you really, really, wanted to (and had unlimited resources), you could spend all your time driving around watching sports. To dream the impossible dream...