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A Schedule Companion

Adam Merges gives you an early idea of what games to circle on the calendar early on and how to prepare for a bare summer weekend schedule.

Adam Merges highlights some 2016 schedule nuggets
Adam Merges highlights some 2016 schedule nuggets
Guy Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

It’s never too early to circle important dates on the schedule and get travel plans in place. Adam Merges did some of that work for you.

The Basics

The Fire’s schedule breaks down like this:

  • At home, the Fire play four Sunday games, eight Saturday games, two Wednesday games, two Friday games and one hursday game. They start the season at home against New York City FC on March 6 and finish up their home schedule against New England on Oct. 16. The Fire does not have a home game in the month of June.
  • Away, they have two Sunday games, nine Saturday games, four Wednesday games and two Friday games. The Fire’s first trip is to Orlando on Friday, March 11 and their last trip in the regular season is on "Decision Day" against Toronto FC on Oct. 23. The Fire’s longest road trip is May 11 through 18 when they first travel to Vancouver for a Wednesday night game, followed three days later with a Saturday game against New England before concluding the three-game stretch with a trip to Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.

Tests Against The Best

There is no better measuring stick than to play the best teams in the league. I know that the Fire’s last-place finish last season means they technically can measure themselves against every other team across the league, but fans can really see the progress when the club takes on the title contenders.

The Fire’s first big test is going up against MLS Cup runners-up the Columbus Crew on March 19 at Toyota Park. The next measuring stick comes against the Red Bulls on May 18 in New Jersey when they will take on the current Supporters Shield holders. Ten days later the Fire welcome MLS Cup champions Portland to Toyota Park on May 28.

The toughest test could come in July when the Fire has six games against quality opposition. Games include a home date against U.S. Open Cup holders Sporting Kansas City followed three days later with a trip to Dallas to take on the runners up to the Supporters Shield. They then finish July off with an away date at New England and home date versus the Red Bulls again.

October contains two potentially crucial games for bitter rivals as the Fire have a back-to-back, home-and-home series with the Crew. It could determine Chicago’s fate as the season draws to a close.

A Bummer Summer Schedule

We all know that summer time weather, at least the past few years, provides near perfect conditions to head down to Toyota Park to tailgate and catch a Fire game on a Saturday. That’s what makes this year’s home schedule during the months of June, July and August so frustrating.

When I first glance at the schedule I always scan how many games are on the weekends. I do that because, like most people, those are the games I’m most able to make because there are no work responsibilities getting in the way. So this year when I scanned the schedule it left me confused. It turns out the Men in Red do not have any Saturday home games in June, July or August. They do have two Sunday games as well as two Wednesday games and a Friday game, but no Saturday games. Their last Saturday game before the summer months is May 28 and that’s a night game as well. The next time the Fire plays at home after August is on Sept. 3 when they host the Union that night. I know the club does not have much if any input in the schedule, but in terms of convenience for people to go to summer games, this year’s schedule just does not do that.

Pack Your Bags

A disappoint summer home schedule means plenty of opportunities for road trips! Ever been to BMO Field in Toronto? How about Dicks Sporting Goods Park in Colorado? What about Stade Saputo in Montreal? Ever seen a game in DC, New England, Dallas, Salt Lake, or God forbid, Columbus? Well pack your bags and hit the road with other traveling supporters as this year’s schedule offers plenty of Saturday games on the road.

Here’s a list that would make good road trips: May 14 at New England, June 18 at Colorado, July 9 at Toronto, July 16 at Dallas, New England again on July 23, Salt Lake on Aug. 6, Montreal on Aug. 20, D.C. on Aug. 27 and at Columbus on Oct. 1. Check on the Section 8 website for news about an away ticket package and even individual tickets to specific away games. I will definitely try to go to at least one away game this season.