Major League Soccer today will release the schedule for its inaugural season, which will include 16 home and 16 road games for each of the 10 teams and at least two international games for each club.
The league’s opening game will be played April 6 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, featuring the San Jose Clash against Washington D.C. United. It will be the only game on the opening weekend.
The Los Angeles Galaxy, coached by Lothar Osiander, plays its first game a week later, on Saturday, April 13, against the New York/New Jersey Metro Stars at the Rose Bowl at 7 p.m.
The Galaxy home schedule includes 10 Sunday afternoon games, most at 4:30, three Thursday night games, two Wednesday night games and one Saturday night game.
Los Angeles area fans will be able to see all nine of the other MLS teams, and there will be double visits by all but D.C. United and the Tampa Bay Mutiny. Thirteen Galaxy games will be televised nationally, six on Univision, two on ESPN and five on ESPN2.
Bill Sage, MLS’ senior vice president for operations and the person primarily responsible for the schedule, said it was no easy task, given the problems of having to play in stadiums occupied by other teams and having to work around the U.S. Cup ’95 tournament in June and the Olympic Games soccer tournament in July.
“You have to take your shoes off to figure all this out,” he said. “It’s a difficult schedule to do.
“Basically, you play everybody in your conference two home and two away. You play one other team in the other conference two home and two away; two teams two home and one away and the other team two away and one home. Everybody will play each other a minimum three times, although two teams will only be in each market once.”
A quick survey of league general managers Monday revealed general approval of the schedule. The Galaxy’s Danny Villanueva said he is “extremely pleased” by Los Angeles’ schedule, which includes a July 4 game against the New England Revolution, followed by the annual Rose Bowl fireworks display.
One interesting aspect of the schedule is the provision for MLS teams to play international opponents during the season. No names have yet been mentioned, but the likelihood is that several European and Latin American teams will be visiting MLS cities.
“There are holes in everybody’s schedule where international games can be plugged in,” Sage said. “We have really not looked at this point at specific opponents.”
Nor has it yet been decided whether international games will count in the league standings.
“There hasn’t been a final determination, but the likelihood is that they will not count,” Sage said. “That presents a number of difficulties in terms of parity of competition and so forth. There is some interest in that, but the current plan is that they would not count.”
The Columbus Crew today will announce that Timo Liekoski, recently fired as U.S. Olympic team coach, will be its coach. The San Jose Clash is expected to announce the appointment of Laurie Calloway as coach on Thursday.