Inside the 2016 Red Bulls Schedule

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

BY MARK FISHKIN

After an afternoon of the traditional delays, MLS released the 2016 schedule Thursday afternoon, setting off the annual rituals of calendar filling and trip planning.

The 2016 New York Red Bulls now have the road to a second consecutive Supporters Shield, and at least statistically, it will be an easy one. Based on the 2015 league standings, the Red Bulls strength of schedule is the easiest in MLS, with opponents garnering only 1.32 points per game.  Given the frequency of turnover within league rosters, and the maturity of the two Eastern expansion clubs, however, that stat must be taken lightly.

New York gets a boost by facing Eastern Conference playoff teams Columbus and New England just twice, along with bottom-feeder Chicago. The Red Bulls will host the possibly Drogba-less Impact two times, as well as Orlando City and Toronto FC. New York will visit RFK, Yankee Stadium, and the former PPL Park (now Talen Energy Park) two times each this year.

Out West, the Red Bulls will double up on one road trip, visiting San Jose and Colorado four days apart in April. The club will also visit Salt Lake, the Galaxy, and Vancouver, a team the Red Bulls have never beaten.  New York hosts Houston, Kansas City, Dallas, Seattle, and MLS Cup Champions Portland.  The Western opponents are jammed into the first half of the season. New York plays sixteen of its final eighteen matches against Eastern competition, giving the team a big opportunity to pick up points and move up the table in the fall.

Although schedules have tendencies to shift as the season gets closer, one bit of good news is that MLS has scheduled just two midweek matches at Red Bull Arena: May 18th v Chicago, and July 13th v Orlando. The league appears to have learned that cold weather midweek games are usually a bust in Harrison. There’s also one Friday night match, April 29th v Dallas. The other fourteen home matches are all on weekends.

The flip side of the coin is the number of midday, midsummer kickoffs the Red Bulls and their fans will have to endure, and Fox television is the culprit. The July 3rd kick in the Bronx is scheduled for high noon, and NYCFC’s only appearance at RBA this season, on July 24th, begins at 1pm. Both matches will air nationally on FOX proper, and neither kickoff time makes a bit of sense for the players, or the fans (or a national TV audience, for that matter) hoping to see exciting, sharp, energetic play.

In all, the Red Bulls will play on national television sixteen times in 2016, including three straight Friday night tilts on UniMas (April 29th v FCD, May 6th at Orlando, May 13th at DCU). New York will also appear on ESPN proper in three out of four weeks in late summer (August 21st at DCU, August 28th v Revs, September 11th v DCU).  It’ll be the second straight season that New York plays at home on 9/11.

National television also has an impact on the alignment of home kickoff times. Red Bull Arena will host kickoffs at 7pm seven times, 7:30pm  four times, 1pm twice, and once each at 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 5p, and 6pm. I’ve long contended that these times should be consolidated to build awareness and attendance. Having starting times all around the clock only confuses fans.

New York will contend with the dreaded “three-matches-in-eight-days” run three times in 2016:

  • in April (the 9th v SKC, 13th at SJ, 16th at COL)
  • in May (the 13th at DCU, 18th v CHI, 21st at NYC)
  • and in July (the 10th v POR, 13th v ORL, 17th at PHI)

Thankfully, New York plays only weekend matches after July 13th.

Among the additional quirks to the schedule:

  • New York will play all three matches against Orlando before facing Philadelphia even once.
  • The Red Bulls have the Union twice over the last three matches of the regular season, October 1st at RBA, and the season finale at Talen Energy Park on October 23rd.
  • New York doesn’t see the Columbus Crew until week 17, in late June.
  • All three matches against NYCFC take place over a 64-day span from late May to late July.
  • Due to the Copa America Centenario break, New York plays at home only once (June 16th v SEA) over a six-week span from late May to mid-July.
  • The Red Bulls have one three-match road trip (June 22nd at RSL, June 25th at CLB, July 3rd at NYC) and one three-match home stand (Sept. 24th v MTL, Oct. 1 v PHI, Oct. 16th v CLB) this season.
  • Starting March 19th, New York will play five of seven matches versus Western teams.

With less than two months until New York’s 21st season, Red Bulls fans can finally fill in the calendar to what will be another exciting season.

 

  • Cosmo

    If red bull don’t win MLS cup this year, just sell this team to a better ownership.

    • Pele

      Yes, yes, Mr. Cosmo is right, sell them to the Arabs just like the Cosmos. More money for me endorsing the team I never played for. All from my wheelchair and soon to be nursing home.

  • Freddie Football

    Two Shields and top of the East three times in six seasons, and they need “better ownership?” Seven academy signings this offseason And they’re doing something wrong? I don’t get it.

    • slowleftarm

      Right and that’s the problem GUY WHERE ARE THE CHAMPIONSHIPS THIS FRANCHISE IS GOING ON 20 YEARS WITH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO CHAMPIONSHIPS

      DO U GET IT NOW ?