Hurricane Irene Causing Shifts in MLS Schedule

Hurricane Irene (NASA, International Space Station, 08/23/11)

Photo from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

UPDATE: The DC United-Portland Timbers match has been postponed; a make-up date will be announced next week.

The expected landfall of Hurricane Irene has caused MLS and other major professional sports teams to shift their schedules in anticipation of dramatic winds, rain, and flooding.  Irene is expected to reach land by Saturday and move up the coast through Sunday evening.  While meteorologists have stressed that the hurricane could change trajectory and intensity between now and the anticipated landfall, some states have already declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the weather.

Three MLS games were scheduled to take place on the East Coast this weekend, including the much-anticipated New York Red Bulls/Los Angeles Galaxy match.  Because all three games were expected to take place during the storm’s strongest point at those locations, all three have been rescheduled.  The most high-profile of the three matches, the nationally televised game between the Red Bulls and Galaxy, is now rescheduled to October 4 at 8 PM and will be shown on ESPN2.  The timing works for the Red Bulls, as they will play at Toronto on October 1st then not have another game until October 15.  The rescheduling is not so nice to the Galaxy, as they play Real Salt Lake at home the weekend before flying to New York.  The back-to-back high-profile matches will be a challenge for this veteran team.

Originally scheduled to take place the same time as the NY/LA match, the Philadelphia Union match against the New England Revolution was rescheduled late this afternoon to Wednesday, September 7 at 8 PM ET.  The match, scheduled to be shown on Galavision, will be still be shown on the station.  The Union will squeeze this match into the part of their schedule that sees them play at Real Salt Lake, vs. Portland, and vs. Columbus in a two week period.  New England is the biggest beneficiary – they actually do not play again until the reschedule date before flying home to host FC Dallas.

In a match featuring two teams on the outside of the playoffs looking in, DC United was scheduled to host the Portland Timbers Saturday evening.  However, DCU announced early this afternoon that their match against Portland on Saturday was moved from 7:30 PM to 2 PM, and all pre-game activities are cancelled (see update above).  DCU was scheduled to hold a LatinFest celebration and an induction ceremony for Black-and-Red great Richie Williams, who helped the team win three MLS Cups.  MLS notes on its website that a definitive announcement about the game will be made Friday afternoon, as Irene’s trajectory may bring bad weather to the DC area earlier than expected.

“With the safety of our fans and clubs top of mind, and thanks to the cooperation of our clubs and broadcast partners, Major League Soccer has rescheduled two games that were originally set for this weekend,” said Nelson Rodriguez, Executive Vice President of Competition and Game Operations, on the MLS site. “We expect that Hurricane Irene will likely cause hazardous travel and unplayable conditions throughout the Northeast. We appreciate our fans’ understanding of these decisions and the media’s assistance in communicating the message.”

7 Responses to Hurricane Irene Causing Shifts in MLS Schedule

  1. BamaMan says:

    I’m confused. I thought playing a summer schedule meant MLS would never have to reschedule games or play them in bad weather?

    • CTBlues says:

      The northeast doesn’t get hurricanes too often so that would be normally true. The tristate area hasn’t been hit by a hurricane since 1985. In the winter on the other hand we get Nor’easteres quite regularly. It also snows a lot in Chi-town, Toronto, and Kansas and gets cold in Texas and the Northwest. The only places you would be able to play would be in Cali, Florida, or domed stadia.

      • Alan says:

        A really bad one off storm is not the same as a bad weather season. Did you run out of good arguments for your dumb idea? Seriously, give it a rest. NOONE in their right mind is playing soccer in snow. You obviously don’t live anywhere that gets bad winter weather BamaMan otherwise you would realize how absolutely, positively DUMB this idea is. I live in Michigan where people love winter sports and don’t mind going outside to play and participate in them. Still, there is a reason why they don’t play soccer outdoors when it is below 20 and snowing. They are not idiots. The players would hate it, the fans would hate it, and anybody with half a brain would hate watching a bunch of miserable people on TV. One off winter matches, EPL where the winter is not that bad, etc, don’t count. Other countries that want to participate in such stupidity just to be like “the rest of the world” don’t count either. Let them do what they want. You can still respect the international calendar with a summer schedule, if you are smart enough to realize it. People still watch sports in the summer if you are smart enough to realize it. However, using a natural disaster that happens once in a blue moon to make the case for the stupidest idea ever speaks for itself and is quite a low to push a dumb idea.

        • BamaMan says:

          Packers’ players and fans usually don’t look that miserable during the playoffs. You obviously can’t play in a blizzard, but cold temperatures don’t hurt the atmosphere in the NFL nor do they hurt it in the US/Mexico games in Columbus. Usually, the hometown fans and players *love* the fact that the weather sucks and that it makes it tough for teams to come there and play. I think MLS has passed the point where their fans are as fickle as you allege.

          On the other hand domed stadia aren’t that bad an idea for ungodly cold places like Michigan. Seriously, if you guys had an MLS team, they would struggle to compete their fixtures at the beginning and end of the season as the schedule is in an outdoor stadium. I believe – correct me if I’m wrong – that the Michigan Bucks USL squad plays indoors?

          Here’s what’s kind of silly about the whole argument: there’s really not that much difference between our positions.

          What I’m proposing is this (approximate):
          1st half of season: Last sat in July-1st sat in December
          2nd half: 1st sat in Feb-last sat in May

          If you’re serious about taking a break for international tourneys, what you’re proposing is this (again, approximate)
          1st half of season – 1st sat of March/last sat of Feb (depends on how it falls)-2nd sat of June
          2nd half of season – 3rd sat of July-2nd sat of December
          That is taking a 4 week break for WC or whatever and pushing the start 2 weeks earlier and the final 2 weeks back.

          In your scenario, there is one more month of good weather for regular season play. That is 4 games. But you kick off the season in bad weather and play the MLS Cup in terrible weather (which is what we do now).

          My argument is that the league would be better served to simply avoid scheduling home games in cold weather sites for those 4 weeks (and avoid scheduling home games in hot weather sites like Houston for the first 4 weeks of the season) in order to synchronize with FMF an UEFA for transfers AND, most importantly to kick off the season and play the MLS cup playoffs in good weather. And it would put our USMNT players in a more well-rested position to compete in the GC and WC. Everybody benefits.

          • Alan says:

            Winter weather is some of the worst in February. You really must not go north much to any place like Detroit, Columbus, Chicago, Toronto, etc. As far as Green Bay goes, they are going to be building an indoor practice field for relief from practicing in the cold. They are ONE team without an indoor stadium. The regular season ends in most cases before things get really bad in January and February, when the cold and snow is at its worst. Things can be bad in early March too. Who cares about US/Mexico playing every couple of years. That is ONE game, and not a part of a season.

            Under your system, MLS would play outdoors during the second worst month of the year (which is awful, maybe drive up here and check it out sometime). You could have the first game be played at the end of February, beginning of March without expecting all of the northern teams to play on the road for 6 weeks (look at what that did to Sporting KC – they played horribly). You could stop or start for international breaks earlier under my system by throwing in one or two mid week games. The first Saturday of June would be the latest it needs to stop. As far as when to end the season, the second week in December is also too late. The end of November would be the latest. Again, a game or 2 mid week is all this would take. Shortening the season might be inevitable as conferences become more significant and putting a greater emphasis on the post-season. Either way, your timeline is all wrong. If anything, under your system, they should skip February in favor of December. I am not sure which country you are from, but Winter is worse in February than December. In some cases, early March can be as bad as mid to late December.

            I would also suggest that kicking around a soccer ball for 90 minutes when you are freezing is probably a bit worse than passing around a football with pads on. Its like saying that playing football and basketball outside in January are the same thing. Overall, winter soccer does not make any sense.

          • Alan says:

            Not sure why my post didn’t go through, but here is something to consider…


            I don’t have the time or patience to retype it, but try coming up north in February sometime. February is as bad as January, sometimes worse.

      • Alan says:

        That wasn’t directed at you CTBlues since you obviously have a brain and common sense.

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