Hurricane Irene Causing Shifts in MLS Schedule
UPDATE: The DC United-Portland Timbers match has been postponed; a make-up date will be announced next week.
The expected landfall of Hurricane Irene has caused MLS and other major professional sports teams to shift their schedules in anticipation of dramatic winds, rain, and flooding. Irene is expected to reach land by Saturday and move up the coast through Sunday evening. While meteorologists have stressed that the hurricane could change trajectory and intensity between now and the anticipated landfall, some states have already declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the weather.
Three MLS games were scheduled to take place on the East Coast this weekend, including the much-anticipated New York Red Bulls/Los Angeles Galaxy match. Because all three games were expected to take place during the storm’s strongest point at those locations, all three have been rescheduled. The most high-profile of the three matches, the nationally televised game between the Red Bulls and Galaxy, is now rescheduled to October 4 at 8 PM and will be shown on ESPN2. The timing works for the Red Bulls, as they will play at Toronto on October 1st then not have another game until October 15. The rescheduling is not so nice to the Galaxy, as they play Real Salt Lake at home the weekend before flying to New York. The back-to-back high-profile matches will be a challenge for this veteran team.
Originally scheduled to take place the same time as the NY/LA match, the Philadelphia Union match against the New England Revolution was rescheduled late this afternoon to Wednesday, September 7 at 8 PM ET. The match, scheduled to be shown on Galavision, will be still be shown on the station. The Union will squeeze this match into the part of their schedule that sees them play at Real Salt Lake, vs. Portland, and vs. Columbus in a two week period. New England is the biggest beneficiary – they actually do not play again until the reschedule date before flying home to host FC Dallas.
In a match featuring two teams on the outside of the playoffs looking in, DC United was scheduled to host the Portland Timbers Saturday evening. However, DCU announced early this afternoon that their match against Portland on Saturday was moved from 7:30 PM to 2 PM, and all pre-game activities are cancelled (see update above). DCU was scheduled to hold a LatinFest celebration and an induction ceremony for Black-and-Red great Richie Williams, who helped the team win three MLS Cups. MLS notes on its website that a definitive announcement about the game will be made Friday afternoon, as Irene’s trajectory may bring bad weather to the DC area earlier than expected.
“With the safety of our fans and clubs top of mind, and thanks to the cooperation of our clubs and broadcast partners, Major League Soccer has rescheduled two games that were originally set for this weekend,” said Nelson Rodriguez, Executive Vice President of Competition and Game Operations, on the MLS site. “We expect that Hurricane Irene will likely cause hazardous travel and unplayable conditions throughout the Northeast. We appreciate our fans’ understanding of these decisions and the media’s assistance in communicating the message.”