MLS released FCC’s inaugural MLS schedule on Monday, and the club has nine of its first 10 MLS matches against playoff teams from last year.
Welcome to MLS, FC Cincinnati. And good luck.
FC Cincinnati fans might have thought the club’s first three MLS matches were rough — at Seattle Sounders FC, at Atlanta United and home against the Portland Timbers — when the league announced home openers in December. That was just a taste of the formidable foes lined up to greet the Orange and Blue in their inaugural MLS season.
MLS released its entire league schedule on Monday, and the beginning doesn’t get much easier. Nine of FC Cincinnati’s first 10 matches will be against playoff teams from last season. Seattle played in the 2017 MLS Cup final, and Atlanta beat Portland to win last year’s cup. Then FCC gets the Philadelphia Union home and away, Real Salt Lake at home and road matches against Los Angeles FC and New York Red Bulls — all by May 1.
A Hell is Real Derby with the Columbus Crew doesn’t happen until August, but there will be two in 15 days — Aug. 10 at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus and Aug. 25 at Nippert Stadium. The second derby is part of Rivalry Week.
FC Cincinnati will play Eastern Conference teams twice, home and away, and Western Conference teams once.
MLS will have flex scheduling in late September, leading up to Decision Day on Oct. 6. To get the most meaningful matches available on national television, certain match times might get jostled on Sept. 15 and 22.
Four matches will be broadcast on ESPN:
- Sunday, March 10, 5 p.m. at Atlanta. FC Cincinnati gets to watch Atlanta celebrate its MLS Cup title.
- Sunday, April 7, 3 p.m. vs. Sporting Kansas City.
- Saturday, June 29, 4 p.m. at Minnesota United FC.
- Thursday, July 18, 8 p.m. vs. D.C. United. Might we see former English Premier League star Wayne Rooney?
Three matches can be seen on FS1:
- Saturday, March 2, 10 p.m. at Seattle Sounders FC. The club’s first MLS match.
- Sunday, March 17, 5 p.m. vs. Portland Timbers. The first MLS match at Nippert.
- Sunday, Aug. 25, 8 p.m., vs. Columbus Crew. The Hell is Real scene returns to Nippert
Here are a few more notable matches:
- Saturday, June 22, 7:30 p.m., vs. Los Angeles Galaxy. Will former European star Zlatan Ibrahimovic travel with the Galaxy to play on the Nippert turf?
- Saturday, Aug. 10, 7:30 p.m., at Columbus Crew. First Hell is Real Derby since FC Cincinnati won in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup.
- Saturday, Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m., vs. Chicago Fire. Something magical happened the last time the Fire played at Nippert.