Sounders FC

Balanced schedule pleasing to Sounders

Major League Soccer announced its 240-game regular season schedule Wednesday, starting March 25 with Sounders FC meeting the expansion Philadelphia Union at Quest Field.

The addition of that 16th franchise allows a balanced 30-game schedule, with each club playing the other 15 teams home and away.

Again this season, the Sounders’ schedule is somewhat frontloaded with three of their first four games at home, and four of their last six on the road. However, Seattle has no homestand or road trip longer than two games.

“Sometimes you have some rough patches, and you have patches that you are happy with in terms of times between games,” coach Sigi Schmid said from Arizona, where his team began training Wednesday.

“Obviously, playing away at Dallas on a Thursday and away at Toronto that next Sunday is a tough stretch. ... What’s nice about it is we now have 16 teams, so there is no unbalance in our schedule.”

Highlights on the Sounders’ second schedule include a May 15 visit to new Red Bulls Arena in New York; a June 27 match that will mark the debut of the Union’s new soccer-specific stadium in Chester, Penn.; and a Sept. 9 visit from defending MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake.

The Sounders conclude the regular season Oct. 23 at Houston, where their 2009 season ended in an extra-time playoff loss.

Three international friendlies, two CONCACAF Champions League games and the Sounders’ opening match in the U.S. Open Cup will be announced later.

Seattle’s home schedule has three Thursday games, one match on Friday, eight on Saturdays and three on Sundays. The Sunday games all are scheduled at night to avoid conflicts with afternoon Mariners games at Safeco Field.

Across the league, 75 percent of the games will be played on Saturdays and 85 percent on weekends.

MLS will take a two-week break to accommodate the group phase of World Cup play. The All-Star game will be played in late July or early August at Reliant Stadium in Houston against an opponent to be named.

The regular season ends Oct. 24 with a pair of games. Then eight teams will advance to the playoffs, which begin the weekend of Oct. 28-30.

The season will conclude with MLS Cup on Nov. 21 at a neutral site to be announced.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808

Sounders FC 2010 schedule

DateOpp.Time (PT)

March 25Philadelphia6:30 p.m.*

April 3New York7:30 p.m.*

April 10at Real Salt Lake6 p.m.

April 17Kansas CityNoon

April 22at FC Dallas5 p.m.*

April 25at Toronto FC11 a.m.

May 1Columbus7:30 p.m.

May 8Los Angeles1 p.m.

May 15at New York4:30 p.m.

May 22San JoseNoon

May 29at ColoradoTBD

June 5New England7:30 p.m.

June 10D.C. United7:30 p.m.*

June 27at Philadelphia2 p.m.*

July 4at Los Angeles7:30 p.m.

July 11FC Dallas7:30 p.m.

July 15at D.C. United5 p.m.*

July 25Colorado8 p.m.*

July 31at San Jose7 p.m.

Aug. 8Houston7:30 p.m.

Aug. 14at Chivas USA7:30 p.m.

Aug. 28Chicago7:30 p.m.

Sept. 4at New England4:30 p.m.

Sept. 9Real Salt Lake8 p.m.*

Sept. 18at Columbus4:30 p.m.

Sept. 25at Chicago5 p.m.

Oct. 2Toronto FC12:30 p.m.

Oct. 9at Kansas City5:30 p.m.

Oct. 15Chivas USA8 p.m.*

Oct. 23 at Houston1 p.m.

*-Nationally broadcast on ESPN2 or FSC; dates, times subject to change.