We’re almost exactly two months away from Orlando City’s season-opener against Real Salt Lake on March 6 at the Citrus Bowl. On Thursday, Major League Soccer will announce the entire league schedule for the 2016 season.
Based on the new schedule layout listed by MLS prior to the 2015 season with the additions of New York City FC and Orlando City, we might be able to project just about all of Orlando City’s opponents in 2016.
Western Conference Games
Unless MLS revamps its scheduling, Orlando City will play each Western Conference team once in 2016 for a total of five home and five away matches. Last season, Orlando hosted Vancouver, Los Angeles, Colorado, Dallas, and Sporting KC, while travling to Portland, Seattle, Houston, Real Salt Lake, and San Jose.
Though not officially listed, the assumption is that the league will flip those fixtures for 2016.
In that event, the Lions would host Portland, Seattle, Houston, San Jose, and, as we already know, RSL on opening day. That would mean road trips to LA, Vancouver, Kansas City, Colorado, and Dallas — a fairly helpful schedule for Orlando, which will only make two trips far west, and then their one high-altitude trip to Colorado.
Eastern Conference Games
The Lions will play each of their nine Eastern Conference foes at least twice in a home-and-home series, leaving 28 games already accounted for. In addition, to complete the schedule, each club will play six additional intra-conference games — three home and three away.
In 2015, Orlando City played three matches against DC United (two home, one away), NYCFC (two home, one away), Columbus Crew (two home, one away), Chicago Fire (one home, two away), Toronto FC (one home, two away), and Montreal Impact (one home, two away).
Right now, there's no telling who the Lions might see three times in 2016. There's a good chance they'll have New York, Philly, and New England rotated in to be played three times. You could also make the case to play Columbus, NYCFC, and DC three times again this season as rivalry matches. It's possible they may just flip the fixtures and keep the same teams in the three-time rotation, but flip the extra date.
We won't know for sure until Thursday, though, when the full schedule is released. So for now, we can only continue to play the waiting game.