Christmas has come very, very early for Major League Soccer fans: The 2014 schedule arrived on Monday afternoon. Time to start planning those road trips.
By Charles Gooch
The Kansas City Star
Sporting Kansas City will kick off the 2014 campaign literally, the first match of the season traveling to Seattle to face the Sounders on March 8. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. and is part of NBC's seven-match soccer-bonanza weekend.
Kansas City's home opener in the league is the following weekend, Saturday, March 15, against FC Dallas. The first match at Sporting Park next year, however, will be the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday, March 12 against Mexican side Cruz Azul.*
*The road trip to Mexico City for the second leg is March 19, squeezed in between the MLS home opener and a visit from San Jose.
If you're looking for tickets next year, there's already a waiting list sign-up form for 2014 season tickets.
Sporting KC will be part of 12 national broadcasts NBC Sports Network will air seven, ESPN/ESPN 2 will broadcast four and UniMas will show Sporting KC's only visit to Chicago on May 18.
Here are a few notables from the schedule:
• Because MLS will observe a two-week break for the 2014 World Cup, there are no games between June 12-24. This means Kansas City and many other teams will have a far busier May than usual. Kansas City will play seven matches in May (four at home, three on the road), including a 14-day stretch with four games.
• There are only four weekday MLS fixtures on the schedule for Sporting (three Wednesday, one Tuesday), leaving the other 30 matches to the weekends.
• Friday is a popular time this year, with eight matches landing on that night, including a stretch to end the season with three Friday-night fixtures in a row.
• Because of the imbalanced schedule, Sporting KC will play each Western Conference team just once. This year's road trips: Seattle (March 8), Colorado (March 29), Portland (June 27), Vancouver (August 10) and Chivas (Sept. 13).
• Kansas City won't play an Eastern Conference foe until April 19 (Montreal). The slate opens with five-straight Western Conference opponents.
• The imbalanced schedule also means Kansas City will play two teams in the Eastern Conference just twice: Columbus and Houston. They'll play New York, Chicago, New England, Philadelphia, Montreal, Toronto and D.C. United three times.
• New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Montreal and Toronto will travel to Sporting Park twice next year.
• There is just one extended road trip: A Wednesday-Saturday swing against New England (Sept. 3) and New York (Sept. 6) with a cross-country trip to Chivas USA the following weekend.
You can check out the entire Sporting KC schedule here. Here are The Full 90's Top Five matches coming to Sporting Park next year.
1. Sporting KC vs. Real Salt Lake, April 5 (7:30 p.m.)
This will be a rematch of the yet-to-happen MLS Cup. No matter what the result is on Dec. 7, this will be a highly-charged fixture. Shame it's not been given the national-television treatment.
2. Sporting KC vs. New York Red Bulls, Oct. 26 (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
Kansas City will be involved in the very first game of the season and the very last. This has the very real possibility of being an Eastern Conference decider between the defending MLS Cup squad and the reigning Supporters' Shield holders.
3. Sporting KC vs. Chicago, July 6 (2 p.m., ESPN)
This Sunday afternoon game is big because A) it's a rivalry game against the Fire and B) it will be the first game at Sporting Park after a break of more than a month (May 27-July 6).
4. Sporting KC vs. FC Dallas, March 15 (6:30 p.m.)
There's just something about Sporting Park and St. Patrick's Day-adjacent fixtures. This will be the third home opener in three years on or very near the holiday. The last two seasons, KC have opened against New England.
5. Sporting KC vs. Houston, August 29 (7 p.m., NBC Sports Network)
The only regular season match between these two at Sporting Park. I don't know if you've heard, but games at Sporing Park against Houston tend to be kind of insane.