Major League Soccer’s change to an unbalanced schedule for the 2012 season could make the Cascadia Cup more difficult for Sounders FC, while making the Supporters’ Shield a little easier.
The schedule released Thursday shows the Sounders will play four of their six games against Cascadia rivals Portland and Vancouver on the road.
However, the Sounders get two home games and only one road game against both reigning Supporters’ Shield champion Los Angeles and Western Conference contender Real Salt Lake.
The 34-game unbalanced schedule gives Seattle three games each against the other eight Western clubs, but only one game each against the 10 Eastern Conference clubs. This season, that means Toronto, Houston, Philadelphia, Columbus and Sporting Kansas City will visit CenturyLink Field, while the Sounders will travel to D.C. United, Chicago, New England, New York and expansion newcomer Montreal.
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The emphasis on Western Conference games will reduce Seattle’s league travel miles by an estimated 18.5 percent. According to the club, the Sounders traveled an estimated 50,582 miles last season. This season, that will drop to 41,220.
The club will play six of its first eight matches at home, including the opener March 17 against Toronto. That marks the fourth consecutive season the Sounders have opened at home.
Their regular season will end Oct. 28 on the road against the defending MLS Cup-champion Galaxy.
Sounders FC will appear on national television a dozen times, including a Sept. 15 match at Portland that will be shown by new league broadcast partner NBC. Five other matches will be shown on the NBC sports cable network, NBCSN (formerly Versus). Six will air on ESPN or ESPN2. All other games will be shown locally on KING 5 or KONG 6/16.
Seattle’s busiest portion of the schedule clusters seven games between May 2 and May 26. There are four times when the Sounders will play three games in a seven- or eight-day span. However, there is also a long break with no games scheduled from May 26 until June 16.
The MLS season stretches a league-record 267 days, from first kick on March 10 to MLS Cup on Dec. 1.
Sounders single-game tickets go on sale Feb. 13.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer