Merry Christmas, Fire fam. Santa Garber has given us the gift of the 2023 MLS schedule. The Club released the schedule by putting out a cute video of CJ Brown and Frank Klopas interviewing some potential future Fire and Red Stars players inside the dome at the Fire Pitch.
The season will kick off at Soldier Field on Saturday, March 4th at home against NYCFC and will run until the 21st of October when the reverse fixture will take place at whichever baseball stadium does not have a playoff game scheduled. (So Citi Field, probably.)
There’s a month off between the middle of July and August for the Leagues Cup— the MLS vs Liga MX tournament taking place every season starting this year. It’s also conveniently during the Women’s World Cup. The Fire’s return to the pitch at home against Orlando City is August 20th, the same day as the Final.
So without further ado, here are some initial thoughts and a look at some of the important games of the season.
The first match ever between the Fire and their new regional rival will be hosted in Chicago. St. Louis City FC comes to town on May 13th. The start time is still TBD, so it may be earmarked as a potential FS1 TV game. The Fire do have one scheduled game on traditional television. Their game against Atlanta United in Georgia on April 23rd is going to be simulcast on FS1 and Fox Deportes.
The Fire don’t get their first crack at the Crew until June 10th as they come west to the lakefront. The return match isn’t until the end of September, well into the chase for playoff positions. Expect that match at Firehouse East to matter a whole lot.
The same can be said for the games against DC United and New England. They too fall in the one-game early, one-game late box. DC travels here on April Fools Day and isn’t seen again until September 2nd, and the Revs are in Chicago on September 23rd for the return fixture— The Fire go out to Foxboro on May 27th.
The Hardest Month
It looks at first glance that the Fire are going to get their most difficult stretch of games out of the way right off the bat. Their first four games are the NYCFC opener into Eastern Conference champions Philidelphia Union back to back. Then the last two games are against FC Cincinnati at home, a fixture the Fire seem to never win, and Inter Miami down in Ft. Lauderdale, who if the rumors are to be believed, will have a brand new number 10 making things very messy for the rest of the league. Although he may not actually come until the Summer.
The Easiest Month
That should be in July. All but one of their games barring one are at home against teams at or around their level if we were to judge by last year’s performances. Their first match of the month on the 1st is away to Orlando City, ending a three-game road trip to round out June, b after that, Soldier Field gets four games in a row. July 8th sees Nashville FC come to town. After that, it’s a two-game week with CF Montreal on Wednesday and Toronto in town the following Saturday.
Other Notable Fixtures
The Fire’s away trips out west this season are all in the middle of summer. Portland and Kansas City are back to back in the middle of June, They go to Carson to take on the LA Galaxy on August 26th.
Potentially the biggest game of the year will take place on October 4th. That’s when Inter Miami comes to town for the return match. By that point, If he is coming to MLS this year, Messi should be well integrated into his squad, and we should get the very best of the GOAT on the lakefront.
There is, however, one thing missing. There will be no Brimstone Cup this season. For the first time since 2021, FC Dallas is off the schedule. So for another season, the Cup will remain in Chicago where it’s lived since 2019, as last year’s scoreless draw meant that the Fire retained the trophy.
A picture of the full schedule, courtesy of our Alex Calabrese, is here.