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Report: MLS 2012 Season to Start Week of March 4

A report out of Toronto indicates that MLS fans had better get their overcoats ready for First Kick 2012.

Duane Rollins reports that Toronto FC executives told a fan gathering that they expect the MLS season to begin Saturday, March 10, with the First Game logically falling on March 8.  The start, which would be the earliest in MLS history, would be earlier than usual because the league would incorporate the three World Cup qualifying periods into the schedule.  The executives also confirmed that the league would be keeping the 34 game schedule which, with the addition of Montreal, would necessitate unbalanced scheduling.

The Toronto FC executives confirm what many season ticket holders knew and subsequent league sources have confirmed, that the league would keep its 34 game schedule for now.  How the unbalanced schedule will shake out is unknown, although the league executives did meet two weekends ago to discuss next year’s schedule.

While the new schedule will allow players to participate in World Cup qualifiers, the earlier schedule will conflict with the CONCACAF Champions League.  The quarterfinals are scheduled to take place March 6-8 and 13-15, meaning some MLS teams could miss the beginning of the season and First Kick would be hosted somewhere besides Seattle for the first time in four years.  Some teams may also start the season on the road as the weather may prevent hospitable home openers; Rollins notes that Toronto would likely play at Rogers Center to begin the season.

So assuming the five teams currently in the CCL are not eligible to host First Kick due to continuing in the competition, where is the logical place to hold First Kick 2012?  It would have to be somewhere that could guarantee a huge crowd, TV viewers, and not be too cold.  My guesses for hosting would be Portland (crowd guarantee) and New York Red Bulls (big names, good crowd) with the MLS Cup winner (assuming it isn’t one of those teams) paying a visit.

What do you think of the early start to the season?  What is your prediction for the First Kick match-up?

22 Responses to Report: MLS 2012 Season to Start Week of March 4

  1. Jonny T says:

    Can’t wait until the NBC Sports/Versus games come on. I hope they
    have some kin of MLS highlight/review during the week.

  2. johnny h says:

    really? an unbalanced schedule…. i guess i just dont know why
    this league doesnt want to be taken seriously, what a joke

    • The original Tom says:

      Hopefully just slightly unbalanced- meaning you play everybody but
      two teams twice, and those two you play once.

    • Derek says:

      I keep trying to tell people that MLS is getting better and then
      they do things like this. Garber is a good business man but has no
      clue about soccer. People love the simplicity of the sport. Stop
      trying to make it American football. Play everyone twice you idiot.

      • Scott says:

        People love rivalries a lot more. Having rivals play each other is
        more important than having everyone play twice. Unless you get
        jacked up for Chivas USA vs. Columbus Crew. I really wonder about
        soccer fans sometimes. It’s like they don’t get business or sports.

  3. Earl Reed says:

    Kansas City would be a reasonable choice, new stadium, rejuvenated fan base. The question is if LSP is large enough for MLS’ desires for opening night. Still, if you’re going to have <30,000, as long as there is a passionate fanbase and a full park it should be OK.

    • bullsear says:

      I think LSP would be a great venue for first kick. I was shocked at
      how loud the fans come across on TV, and thee presence of a really
      great naming rights sponsor makes the league look good too.

      • Robert says:

        Its called mixing you “mark”. If you ever have a chance to watch
        Sounders on ESPN and ESPN Deportes listen to the different audience
        mix. Loud as hell on ESPN but not so much on ESPN Deportes. Once
        fans start shouting “SEEAAAAATTLe SOOUUUUNDERS” the commentators
        shut up and the volume goes up.

  4. Psul says:

    My guess would be either Vancover @ Portland or the opposite. you
    have loud vocal fans & both stadiums can hold 22,000 but i
    would be willing to bet that if it was in Vancover it would be
    close to 30,000 if not more. i live in seattle so i know how
    intense the rivalry is between my team and those two and the same
    goes for them.

    • Earl Reed says:

      Yes, Vancouver could be a good thought. Maybe have Red Bulls start the season on the road out there, since there seems to be a need for a big name draw like LA Galaxy.

  5. Psul says:

    * name is Paul i miss typed it in a hurry.

  6. Tome says:

    I suspect the reason MLS is (and should have done it a while ago)
    taking the the weeks off that have the USA qualifiers is because
    NBC and ESPN put pressure on them so all American MLS fans wouldn;t
    have to choose between country and club which results in lower
    viewership for both. Now the USA games get full attention from all
    soccer fans. It was hideous that MLS had games playing exactly the
    same time as the USA national team. They even did it during the
    freaking Gold Cup.

    • tlas says:

      It remains to be seen how NBC handles the MLS when they get it. As
      well as the USMNT. Judging by what I saw in the US-Honduras game, I
      hope that NBC learns from the mistakes of Fox Soccer (and there
      were many).

  7. eplnfl says:

    All for it, the early start that is. With enough teams in moderate
    or warm weather cities Chicago and other cold weather towns can
    find themselves on the road the first two weeks but that presents
    little problem. It would make sense given the new tv contract that
    we will see a bigger mid-week schedule next year which I am all
    for. As for the opening game MLS needs to establish a tradition
    like the NFL has arrived at. Last two champs meeting in the opener
    is the NFL formula. May be MLS can go with the USOC winner v.
    League champ at the better weather site.

  8. The original Tom says:

    Colorado is OK during the day in March, but freezing at night. If
    we have March games, I hope they are during the day. Also,
    curiously, the first half of March is usually nicer than the end of
    March and early April. So, yes, I like the earlier start; but no
    “first kick” for us, please.

  9. Robert says:

    MLS needs to stop changing every single year. Has anyone asked why
    it was so important to add Montreal? Is this a cash flow issue for
    the league and needed the expansion fee?

    • Scott says:

      The EPL needs to stop changing ever year. Three new teams and three
      old teams gone? What is up with that? But seriously. Montreal draws
      12,000 a game to see crappy D2 soccer. They will now sell out their
      building and get 20,000 plus. Combined with the expansion fee, why
      would you not want Montreal in the league? Unless you are brain
      dead or something. If you are brain dead, then my apologies.

  10. John says:

    First Kick has to be in a big stadium!

  11. Tim says:

    I really feel dumber after reading all these comments. Some of you
    geeks need a life besides complaining about MLS. If any one iof you
    actually knew what you were talking about don’t you think you would
    be working for MLS?

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