Major props to MLS for getting the schedule out earlier than ever in recent memory. Supporters Groups can now plan trips to even the early games. I know one the questions at the fore for all of the Timbers Army is if the unbalanced schedule going to help or hurt the Timbers. The answer to that question depends on if Portland's follows the Trailblazers' unofficial philosophy, namely "get energy from the fans at home and win (mostly) but go out on the road and get pushed around." Or do they make the next step and pick up points on the road?
First let's look at how many games the Timbers have in each Month:
March- 4 total games (2 home-2 away)
April- 4 total games (2 Home-2 Away)
May- 4 Total Games (3 Home- 1 Away)
June- 3 Total Games (1 Home- 2 Away)
July- 6 Total Games (3 Home- 3 Away)
August- 5 Total Games (3 Home- 2 Away)
September- 5 Total Games (2 Home - 3 Away)
October 3 Total Games (2 Away- 1 Home)
More after the Jump
As you can see the schedule is really balanced in terms of home and away games. If you look at the schedule closer you see that the longest home stand is 2 games(occurs 3 times) and the longest road trip is 2 games (occurs 5 times). However 1 of those road trips, Seattle and then Vancouver, has the two games 13 days apart.
With the balance in home and away games on a month to month basis it feels like this will be an advantage for the Timbers as their home games will be spread out over the course of the year and not as clustered as they were last year. It could also eliminate some of the weariness of some of the longer road trips, twice Portland had 3 road games in a row last year.
Advantage or Disadvantage? Neither it appears. The schedule is pretty balanced month to month.
Now for the unbalanced part:
Eastern Conference Teams
The Timbers play the following teams once at home: Philadelphia, Sporting KC, Columbus, Chicago, and DC United.
The Timbers play the following teams once away: New England, Montreal, Houston, New York and Toronto.
As you can see the Timbers get some of the tougher Easter Conference Teams at home with 3 out of the top 4 in the east from last year visiting Portland. Those three teams (Philly, Sporting KC, and Columbus) had a combined record at home of 25-6-22. While those same teams had a road record of 12-24-15.
Advantage or Disadvantage? Advantage as the Timbers get the 3 out of the 4 toughest home teams in the East visiting PDX.
Western Conference Teams
The teams Portland will place twice at home are: Seattle, Vancouver, Chivas USA, San Jose.
The teams Portland will play twice on the road are: Colorado, RSL, Galaxy and FC Dallas.
Portland hosting Chivas, Vancouver and San Jose twice will be an advantage as each of those team struggled last year to get results on the road, they were a combined 6-27-18 on the road. Those three teams seemed to have improved a little on paper but until they prove otherwise having them twice at home will prove to be a major advantage for the Timbers.
The other side of the coin is the four teams Portland visits twice [Colorado, RSL, Galaxy and FC Dallas]. Galaxy and RSL away are going to be tough to handle twice and all four were participants in the Playoffs last year and lost a combined total of 10 games at home with 21 ties. Colorado struggled toward end the year and may be regressing instead of progressing, however, with a new coach signed things may have turned a corner in Denver.
Advantage or Disadvantage? Slight Advantage and I do mean slight. Getting a full three points at home is crucial to making the playoffs. While we are not guaranteed 18 points out of Vancouver, Chivas and San Jose there is a real possibility of just that happening. 18 points would put Portland a third of the way to making the playoffs as 49 points will most likely be the cut off this year (18/49 is just over 36%).
Overall the schedule on paper looks like an advantage for the Portland Timbers.
Quirks and Notes:
- Largest break is between May 26 (POR v. VAN) and June 17 (POR @ LAG). A full 22 days between matches. Why? FIFA International Dates: June 1-5 and June 8-12. Considering this is the first year for USA World Cup Qualifying those dates are important, in addition Wallace, Marcelin, and others may be pulling national team duty.
Some matches are being played on FIFA international dates, but don't blame MLS:
"MLS initially did not schedule any games on FIFA fixture dates, but the league afforded the option, only by mutual club consent, of moving a game to one of those dates when other scheduling conflicts could not be resolved. Thus a small number of games do occur on select FIFA fixture dates."
- Between August 5 and October 27 the Timbers were be on national television for 8 of their last 13 matches.
- There will be a much needed break in October for another FIFA international date October 12-16.
- By August 19th Portland will have played all but 1 of their games against the Eastern Conference teams and that last game won't be until September 29th.
- On July 18th Portland will be playing a game at 1 PM in the afternoon on a Wednesday in LA against Chivas USA. (most likely a typo for the start time but interesting if it isn't)
- Of the days of the week in which the Timbers play there will be one Monday, two Tuesdays, four Wednesdays, one Friday, twenty Saturdays, and six Sundays. Thor is sitting in Valhalla dejected the Timbers will not play on his day. Also, not a single Wednesday home match, instead the Timbers have four Wednesday away matches.
- Looking into my crystal ball the average attendance for the Timbers will be 20,323.
- NBC Sports going the extra mile again:
2012 MLS Television Schedule
"All games on NBC and NBC Sports Network will consist of pre-game and post-game coverage. The NBC Sports Group will expand upon the successful NBC SportsTalk platform with a Pro SoccerTalk blog that will start with MLS season. Along with already-established MLS partnerships with five Comcast SportsNets (California, Chicago, Mid-Atlantic, New England and Philadelphia), this new media rights partnership provides the league with coverage across the NBC Sports Group's unique four-tier portfolio of assets: broadcast network, national cable, regional sports networks and digital."
- NBC and NBC Sports Network will air a tripleheader across the networks on October 27, the last Saturday of the regular season.
- Saturday December 1, 2012. First time in league history the MLS Cup Final is hosted on a Saturday.
- ESPN's Portland v. Seattle match on June 24 may very likely immediately follow European Championship broadcasts. Euro Schedule shows the one quarterfinal match of the day starts at 10:45 am, whereas the Timbers match starts at 2:00 pm. Lets hope the match doesn't go into extra-time. [PGE Park lives! Check the Euro Schedule Link :)]