Major League Soccer announced its opening day schedule on Tuesday, and the league has made a change for the better heading into the 2016 season.
As opposed to last season, when the first fixtures of the year were spread across an entire weekend from Friday night through Sunday, the league will be rolling out a 10-game slate in a single day to kick the 2016 season off on Sunday, March 6. The action will start at 1:30 p.m. ET and conclude with a 10 p.m. ET kick between LA and D.C., and the slate will include a showdown between Orlando City and Real Salt Lake at the Citrus Bowl in addition to an MLS Cup rematch between Portland and Columbus at Providence Park.
As MLS increases its viewership around the world and continues to close the gap with the American "Big Four," this new scheduling endeavor represents another step in the right direction for the league.
By scheduling matches for all 20 of its teams on one day, the league creates a spectacle that it can easily market to viewers and use to get the 2016 campaign off to a fast start. We have seen the Premier League use this type of scheduling on the final day of its season and will see it in a couple of days when the league showcases 10 fixtures on Boxing Day.
Just as the NFL does every Sunday during the fall, MLS will give its soccer-starved fans a full day of action to watch -- spanning from early afternoon to late evening -- as an oasis to end the drought of the offseason.
This schedule will allow match-going Orlando City fans to get back home and keep the party going after a hopeful victory over RSL. After the Lions' 2 p.m. tilt, City fans will conceivably be able to catch the majority of Portland vs. Columbus before watching a marquee match-up between Sporting KC and Seattle at 7 p.m. and the night cap between LA Galaxy and D.C. United.
Taking in all of the action will require some handy last button work and maybe even a multi-device set up, but that is a good problem for many fans to deal with. The 10-match opening day slate on March 6 is an overwhelming positive for fans of MLS and is a good move by the league office.
Only 72 more days to go.