D.C. United sets 2013 schedule

January 9, 2013

D.C. United’s 34-game regular season schedule is set, beginning and ending against defending MLS Eastern Conference champion Houston.

United’s first three matches — at Houston, home against Real Salt Lake and at New York — were previously announced. The balance of the schedule, which in total runs March 2 to Oct. 27, includes 16 of 17 home matches on weekends. In 2012, United was stuck with four Wednesday dates at RFK Stadium.

United will appear on national TV 12 times, including twice on NBC’s main channel: March 16 at New York and Oct. 27 in the finale against the Dynamo. Six are slated for NBC Sports Network, three are on Spanish-language Telefutura and one on ESPN2. Local broadcasts, typically on Comcast SportsNet, has not been finalized.

Defending champion Los Angeles visits on Sept. 15. Supporters’ Shield winner San Jose comes June 22. Dates for the U.S. Open Cup have not been finalized.

Scheduling notes:

*United is at Chicago on June 2, meaning RFK is available for a proposed U.S. national team friendly against Germany, celebrating the U.S. Soccer Federation’s 100th anniversary. The USSF will hold its annual general meeting in Washington around that time.

*Home matches not scheduled to appear on national TV will kick off at 7 p.m. instead of the traditional 7:30. United joins the Washington Nationals, Capitals and Wizards with an early starting time. The purpose is to give young adults more time to enjoy the evening

*United will have two away games and one home match against Kansas City, New York, Chicago and New England.

*Ryan Nelsen (former United captain who was named Toronto FC’s head coach) and Kevin Payne (former DCU president who running the Canadian side) will return to RFK with TFC on June 15.

*Despite saying it would try to avoid conflicts with World Cup qualifiers, MLS scheduled league matches during the official FIFA windows. Clubs are required to release players at these times, leaving them short-handed for real games. For instance, eight MLS matches are scheduled during the March 22-26 period, when several league players will be on assignment for CONCACAF qualifiers involving the United States, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Honduras and Panama. Seven MLS games are scheduled in and around the final qualifying period in mid-October, when playoff berths are at stake.

*MLS did, however, relieve some of the scheduling congestion. United will play two league matches in the same week just twice: May 8-11 (Houston at home, Dallas away) and July 3-7 (Seattle away, Colorado away).

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff | January 9, 2013