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January 5, 2012 at 10:15 AM

MLS schedule release imminent, but what will Week 1 bring?

MLS Logo.jpgUPDATE 10:15 a.m. — A reader raised a good point in the comments section — that MLS and the Sounders have a busy fall to consider. CenturyLink Field will be shared by the Seahawks and UW football team later in the year. Something to think about.

The schedule for the 2012 MLS season is coming. Sooner or later, it’s coming.

Most likely sooner.

I’ve seen many references to it being released at 11 a.m. today (including on the Real Salt Lake team website), so that’s a good place to start. I’ve also seen a number of league announcements delayed — which isn’t a crime — but adjust your expectations accordingly.

As is sometimes the case when news is finalized before it’s announced, as Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson insinuated on Twitter is true regarding the 2012 schedule, information can leak out early. Along those lines, Canadian Soccer News claims to have a copy of Toronto FC’s schedule (coming to CenturyLink Field on Mar. 17 after a Week 1 bye?). Hot Time in Old Town has a partial Chicago Fire schedule (hosting Seattle on Apr. 28?) through the CSN report and other sources.

The main talking point, and credit to the folks at Sounder at Heart for addressing it first, is Sounders FC’s season opener.

According to an MLS release from November, Seattle will open the league season at home on March 10 against a to-be-determined opponent. What makes this worth noting is the Sounders are already scheduled to play two quarterfinal legs against Mexico’s Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League — March 7 at home, March 14 on the road — then again in MLS, potentially, on March 17 per the CSN report. That would be four games in 11 days.

Now if you checked out said CSN report, or remember what was written in this post a couple paragraphs ago, their schedule has Toronto FC getting a Week 1 bye during MLS First Kick weekend. The Canadian club is also in the CCL quarterfinals, where it faces the Los Angeles Galaxy, and in that scenario would only have three games in those 11 days.

It would certainly seem somewhat curious if Toronto got a Week 1 bye in MLS and Seattle/L.A. did not (the Galaxy is also set for a March 10 league opener at home). With 19 teams in MLS next year with the addition of expansion Montreal, someone would have to get a bye that weekend. Though giving a bye to three teams — the three teams in the CCL quarterfinals, in a competition that the league claims to hold in high regard — also seems reasonable.

Anyways, I hope you were able to follow all that as it’s certainly something to keep an eye on when the schedule is released, either at 11 a.m. this morning or beyond. If there isn’t a late shuffle in the schedule and a handful of Week 1 byes aren’t instated, then at least we’ll learn the Sounders’ opponent for their MLS opener.

NOTE: Before you go, here’s a reminder of the changes underway in 2012. The Cliffsnotes version is there will be an unbalanced 34-game schedule; Seattle will play each Western Conference opponent three times and each Eastern Conference opponent once.

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