The full schedule for the 2021 MLS season has finally been released. This week, we’ll break down what the schedule looks like for FC Dallas in 2021.
For the sake of brevity and not throwing a huge table into the article, I’ll simply link the schedule here.
The 2021 schedule marks a return to normalcy in some ways for MLS. After a shortened season due to the pandemic in 2020 in which teams did not play the same number of games and the league table came down to points per game, the league has returned to a full 34 game season with the final weekend coming in the first weekend of November. With the league not starting until mid-April, this means an increase in mid-week games to make up for the lost month and a half compared to a normal MLS season that starts in early March. League wide, games really start coming in hot (literally) and heavy in July and carrying through to the end of the season. This is likely to try to take advantage of the loosening of restrictions as more of the population gets vaccinated as the summer wears on.
Although the league has returned to the full 34 game schedule, the matchups within that schedule look very different from a typical season. Almost every team in the league will only play two games outside of their conference while playing most teams within their conference three times. This is an effort to cut down on long distance travel across the league and make accommodations for the fact that this season will go on in the midst of a continuing global pandemic. Considering the circumstances, the schedule that we have is probably about the best MLS could do to properly handle everything involved.
Getting Into the Details
Enough about the league as a whole, let’s look at some specifics in regards to FC Dallas.
Games by Month
April: 1 home, 1 away (2)
May: 3 home, 2 away (5)
June: 2 home, 1 away (3)
July: 2 home, 4 away (6)
August: 3 home, 3 away (6)
September: 2 home, 4 away (6)
October: 4 home, 1 away (5)
November: 1 away (1)
After only 10 games in the first two and half months, July will see a big ramp up in games for FCD, with the remaining 24 games being played largely between July and October. July and September will be notably tough months with the team playing 4 away games in both months. October will be a huge opportunity to push for a strong finish to the season ahead of the playoffs with FCD getting to play 4 home games.
Games by Opponent
Houston: 3 (1 home, 2 away)
Austin: 3 (2 home, 1 away)
Minnesota: 3 (2 home, 1 away)
Colorado: 3 (1 home, 2 away)
SKC: 3 (2 home, 1 away)
San Jose: 3 (1 home, 2 away)
LAG: 3 (1 home, 2 away)
RSL: 3 (2 home, 1 away)
New England: 1
Similar to what the league did in 2020, the number of games per opponent is largely based geographically, with FCD only playing twice against the more distant conference foes in Portland, Seattle, Vancouver and LAFC. Dallas will play their inaugural series against Austin with the benefit of getting two home games but will have to make two away trips down to Houston. New England and NYCFC, two opponents that FCD did not see in 2020, are the two out of conference games for the team, with New England coming to Frisco and Dallas making a trip to NYC in the fall.
Other Odds and Ends
Dallas will play 8 mid-week games in 2021, 3 at home and 5 away. This is mostly in line with the rest of the league which has seen an increase in mid-week games across the board to accommodate the shortened time frame of the season.
Dallas has three separate instance of playing three straight games on the road while also having two instances of three home games in a row.
FCD has five nationally televised games. Four of those (4/24 at San Jose, 5/8 vs Houston, 9/4 at RSL and 10/23 at LA Galaxy) will air on Univision while the fifth game, FCD’s inaugural trip to Austin FC, will air on Fox Sports 1 as part of rivalry week. Strangely, although FCD plays Houston just a week earlier, that matchup was not included as part of rivalry week.
Assuming the Olympics going on as scheduled in 2021, there will be a series of games that certain FCD players could miss due to being called up. At the very least, Brazilian goalkeeper Phelipe Megiolaro is likely to be called as he is well established in Brazil’s U23 team. The US is yet to officially qualify, but a number of players could potentially be called: Paxton Pomykal, Tanner Tessmann, Jesus Ferreira, Ricardo Pepi and Brandon Servania have all been called into youth and senior national teams recently and could end up on the Olympic roster.
The official dates of the Olympics are July 23rd through August 8th, but any players called would likely depart for their national teams at least a week before the start of the games. It is likely that any player called would miss the entirety of the July matches, other than the July 4th match against Vancouver. That would potentially see some key players miss out on a stretch of games where Dallas will travel to the LA Galaxy, Portland, Colorado, Sporting KC and Seattle while also hosting the LA Galaxy in the midst of the away games. Away trips will be a challenge in 2021 and doing so without some key players could make that run of games rough for FCD.
There is also a CONCACAF Gold Cup scheduled for 2021 between July 10th and August 1st. This may pull from the same group of players mentioned above if they do not end up on the Olympic roster and would almost certainly take Honduran midfielder Bryan Acosta out of the team as he is a regular with his national team. Fortunately for FCD, there are not a lot of other players likely to be involved in the Gold Cup but having both competitions basically happening at the same time is not ideal for FCD. July will certainly be a major challenge for the club.
All things considered, Dallas should be looking at the 2021 schedule with an air of positivity. They do not have to play some of the conference heavyweights like Seattle, Portland and LAFC three times and they have a very favorable run-in at the end of the season, playing 4 of their last 6 games at home. July will be a major challenge with a majority of the games on the road and the team likely to be missing multiple players on international duty, but overall, FCD’s schedule should not be considered a major hurdle for 2021. They will deal with some challenges, like every team in the league, but certainly can look at their schedule and see a lot of things that could work in their favor by the end of the season.
What are your thoughts on the 2021 schedule? Which games jump out at you as important matchups during the season? Which game are you most excited for? Let me know in the comments below!
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