Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2015 MLS Road Trip

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...



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