Atlanta United’s path to defending its MLS title won’t be easy after a look at the schedule released by the league on Monday.
The Five Stripes will play in a league-leading nationally televised games 17 times, but they are going to rack up miles doing so. The opener at D.C. United on March 3 and the home-opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against Cincinnati on March 10 were announced previously.
May will be particularly brutal with seven games. In a 12-day span, new coach Frank de Boer and the team will host Orlando on May 12, travel to Vancouver on May 15, then to Red Bulls on May 19, then to Real Salt Lake on May 24. Atlanta United supporters can take some solace in knowing the team secured more points on the road (32) last season than any team in MLS in the post-shootout era.
September will also be tough with five games in the final two weeks.
Home highlights include New York Red Bulls, which Atlanta United defeated in the Eastern Conference finals, coming to Mercedes-Benz on July 7. Wayne Rooney and D.C. United will be in Atlanta on July 21, followed by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the L.A. Galaxy on Aug. 3. Atlanta United went 11-2-4 at home last season. It also defeated Portland 2-0 at home to win the MLS Cup.
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Road highlights include at Seattle on July 14, at LAFC on July 27, which it didn’t play on the road last season, an MLS Cup rematch against Portland on Aug. 18 and at Orlando on Aug. 23.
Because the schedule is condensed by three weeks this season, Atlanta United will twice play back-to-back midweek games. The first is Wednesday, May 8 vs. Toronto followed by the games vs. Orlando on Saturday and at Vancouver on Wednesday May 15. The second series is June 26 at Toronto and July 3 at Chicago. Between is June 29 vs. Montreal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The team will also play midweek games on July 17 vs. Houston, Sept 18 at newest expansion side Cincinnati and on Sept. 25 at NYCFC.
Atlanta United will also be participating in other tournaments: the CONCACAF Champions League and U.S. Open Cup that will further congest the schedule.
Atlanta United’s first series in the Champions League will be played Feb. 21 and 28 against Costa Rican power Herediano. Should Atlanta United advance, the quarterfinals are scheduled between March 6 and March 13. The semifinals are scheduled between April 3 and 10. The finals are April 17 and 24.
Atlanta United is likely to begin play in the U.S. Open Cup in early June.
ATLANTA UNITED’s SCHEDULE
Date, Opponent, Time, TV Channel
March 3 at D.C. United, 6 p.m., ESPN
March 10 vs. Cincinnati, 5 p.m., ESPN
March 17 vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FSSO/SE
March 30 at Columbus, 6 p.m. FSSO/SE
April 13 at New England, 7:30 p.m. FSSO/SE
April 20 vs. Dallas, 4 p.m., ESPN
April 27 vs. Colorado, 6 p.m. FSSO
May 5 at Sporting KC, 9 p.m., FS1
May 8 vs. Toronto, 7 p.m., FSSO/SE
May 12 vs. Orlando, 2 p.m., FOX
May 15 at Vancouver, 10 p.m., FSSO/SE
May 19 at New York Red Bulls, 1 p.m., FS1
May 24 at Real Salt Lake, 9 p.m., UniMas
May 29 vs. Minnesota United, 7 p.m., FSSO/SE
June 1 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., UniMas
June 26 at Toronto, 8 p.m., FSSO/SE
June 29 vs. Montreal, 7 p.m., FSSO/SE
July 3 at Chicago, 8 p.m., FSSO/SE
July 7 vs. New York Red Bulls, 2 p.m., FOX
July 14 at Seattle, 4 p.m., ESPN
July 17 vs. Houston, 7 p.m., FSSO/SE
July 21 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., ESPN
July 27 at LAFC, 8 p.m., ESPN
Aug. 3 vs. L.A. Galaxy, 4:30 p.m., FOX
Aug. 11 vs. NYCFC, 4 p.m., ESPN
Aug. 18 at Portland, 10 p.m., FS1
Aug. 23 at Orlando, 8 p.m., ESPN
Aug. 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m., FSSO/SE
Sept. 14 vs. Columbus, 7 p.m., FSSO/SE
Sept. 18 at Cincinnati, 7 p.m., FSSO/SE
Sept. 21 vs. San Jose, 3:30 p.m., UNIV
Sept. 25 at NYCFC, 7 p.m., FSSO/SE
Sept. 29 at Montreal, 5 p.m., FSSO/SE
Oct. 6 vs. New England, 4 p.m., FSSO/SE
FSSO/SE is Fox Sports South/Fox Sports Southeast