We’re back for part 2 of our season preview and this time it’s all about the schedule. If you remember from part 1, this will be Austin FC’s longest season ever as the Verde & Black will participate in four different competitions.
What competitions you ask?
- CONCACAF Champions League
- U.S. Open Cup
- Leagues Cup
Let’s go month-by-month and see how all of these competitions could shape the way Austin attacks the season. Any games in italics are games that COULD happen if Austin advances to further rounds.
Yes, the season starts in February, but it’s one match so I’m going to lump these into the same bucket. Here’s the schedule as we know it.
- 2/25 vs St Louis CITY (MLS)
- 3/4 vs Montreal (MLS)
- 3/7 @ Violette (CCL)
- 3/11 @ Real Salt Lake (MLS)
- 3/14 vs Violette (CCL)
- 3/18 @ Houston (MLS)
- 3/25 vs Colorado (MLS)
Well, Austin fans will quickly learn about the scheduling perils that come along with CCL qualification. The two matches against Violette will mean some long plane flights along with playing 5 matches in 15 days. The good news is that on the field, the two games against Violette are probably the easiest the squad will have to play in this stretch. If Austin can run up a nice goal differential in the first leg, there may be an opportunity to rest some key starters a week later at Q2 Stadium.
The MLS portion of the schedule looks rather manageable. Montreal has had some major changes and shouldn’t be the same team that finished #2 in the East last year. Houston and Colorado are both rebuilding, leaving just the match at RSL as the one to really keep an eye on, especially after the way the playoff game ended in October.
- 4/4 OR 4/5 away (CCL)
- 4/8 @ LAFC (MLS)
- 4/11 or 4/12 home (CCL)
- 4/15 vs Vancouver (MLS)
- 4/22 @ LA Galaxy (MLS)
- 4/25 or 4/26 unknown (CCL)
- 4/29 vs San Jose (MLS)
Here’s what we know: if Austin FC beats Violette in round one of CCL, then the Verde will play midweek matches against either Leon (Mexico) or Tauro (Panama) in the early part of April. And if Austin were to win that two-legged matchup, a CCL semifinal match would be added towards the end of the month.
And to top it all off, let’s throw in two trips to Los Angeles and a game against resident Western Conference chaos agents Vancouver and San Jose. There’s one word to describe April: survive.
- 5/2 or 5/3 unknown (CCL)
- 5/6 @ Portland (MLS)
- 5/9 or 5/10 unknown (US Open Cup)
- 5/13 vs FC Dallas (MLS)
- 5/17 @ Seattle (MLS)
- 5/20 vs Toronto (MLS)
- 5/23 or 5/24 (US Open Cup)
- 5/27 @ Houston (MLS) – Copa Tejas
- 5/31 vs Minnesota United (MLS) OR unknown (CCL)
May could be busy folks. Not only is there the potential for a CCL 2nd leg semi-final match to start the month, but Austin also enters the US Open Cup a week later. ATX gets a bye to the round of 32, but a win there means another US Open Cup just two weeks after that.
The MLS slate isn’t easy either with trips to Portland and Seattle, a rivalry game, a Copa Tejas match, and a Toronto team that features Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi.
One thing to note here: the home match against Minnesota would be moved to a later date if Austin FC were to qualify for the CCL finals. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if MLS also moved the match against Houston as well so that ATX could prepare for the final. The league did this last year for Seattle and the move paid off with a victory.
- 6/3 vs Real Salt Lake OR 6/4 unknown (CCL)
- 6/6 unknown (US Open Cup)
- 6/10 @ Sporting KC (MLS)
- 6/21 vs FC Dallas (MLS) – Copa Tejas
- 6/24 vs Houston (MLS) – Copa Tejas
So the month either starts out with a playoff rematch or the second leg of the CCL final. After that, there’s a potential quick turnaround for the US Open Cup followed by a trip to Sporting KC. The league may step in here if all of that happens and move the Kansas City game to a later date. Austin would finally get a bit of a break before playing back-to-back home Copa Tejas matches.
- 7/1 @ Miami (MLS)
- 7/8 @ Minnesota (MLS)
- 7/12 @ Vancouver (MLS)
- 7/15 vs Sporting KC (MLS)
- 7/21 – Begin Leagues Cup
July looks more like a normal month. Austin will play three straight road matches before coming back to Q2 Stadium for a minimum of three consecutive home games.
Well dear friend, this year the MLS schedule will stop for a month. Every team from MLS and Liga MX will come together for a World Cup style tournament and ATXFC has earned the right to host both of its group stage matches against FC Juarez and Mazatlan FC. If the Verde can advance from the group, it’s likely they will host more matches as the competition progresses.
Leagues Cup will run July 21 – August 19.
This begs the question: If Austin is successful with a deep CCL run and still alive for the US Open Cup, does it “go easy” in the Leagues Cup in order to get some much-needed rest and make a push to lift the Open Cup and position itself well for the MLS playoffs?
- 8/20 @ St Louis CITY (MLS)
- 8/23 unknown (US Open Cup)
- 8/26 @ FC Dallas (MLS) – Copa Tejas
- 8/30 vs Seattle (MLS)
The amount of matches in August all depends on how far Austin goes in Leagues Cup. An early knockout means several weeks off. A decent run could end up in as many as five more games. And if ATXFC were to make the Leagues Cup final, the game at St Louis CITY would have to be moved as the final is set for 8/19. Throw in a potential Open Cup semi-final and the month could get busy in a hurry.
Oh yeah, there’s a potential Copa Tejas deciding, parking lot celebration part 2 in here too.
- 9/2 @ New England (MLS)
- 9/17 vs Portland (MLS)
- 9/20 @ NY Red Bulls (MLS)
- 9/24 vs LA Galaxy (MLS)
- 9/27 unknown (US Open Cup)
- 9/30 @ Colorado (MLS)
It’s mostly MLS action from here on out, with the lone change-up coming from a potential US Open Cup final. There’s also a nice two week break early in the month, but I think that could change if Austin needs to move games from earlier in the season.
- 10/4 vs D.C. United (MLS)
- 10/7 vs LAFC (MLS)
- 10/21 @ San Jose (MLS)
Only three games for the final month of the regular season, but again, a fourth could get added during the off week if one needs to be made up. Everyone will point to the LAFC match, but the game at San Jose terrifies me for Decision Day. Here’s hoping ATXFC already has a post-season spot sewn up.