D.C. United will play its home opener March 17 against the Houston Dynamo. Problem is, its new home won’t be ready by then.
With Audi Field not scheduled to open until late June, United is in the process of finalizing a venue for that first home match — as well as an additional home game in the spring. Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis is not available March 17 but is the front-runner for the second home date, multiple sources said.
Maryland SoccerPlex in Montgomery County and RFK Stadium, United’s lair for 22 seasons, are among the candidates to stage the opener. A decision is expected next month.
RFK is under consideration, sources said, even though the team celebrated the venue’s farewell in October. There are no immediate plans to demolish the 56-year-old facility as the city weighs development options.
MLS on Tuesday announced the home openers for all 23 clubs. On the first weekend of the season, United will visit Orlando City at 7:30 p.m. March 3. Eight days later, D.C. will serve as Atlanta’s opponent for a 3 p.m. kickoff at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The league will unveil the full, 34-game schedule for each team in the coming weeks. In addition to the two early home matches, D.C. will end up playing about 10 away games before the new stadium in Southwest D.C. opens.
United had lobbied the league to schedule all 17 home matches at 20,000-capacity Audi Field between late June and late October. However, citing scheduling issues and competitive advantages late in the season, MLS denied the request. Initially, United feared having to play three or four home games at alternative locations, but ownership was able to persuade the league to mandate just two.
The club announced the home games that won’t take place at Audi Field are not included in the season-ticket package and won’t automatically be charged to the holders. “Once game details are finalized,” United said, “all full season-ticket members will have priority to purchase tickets to those matches.”
United broke ground on the stadium in March, with plans to complete the project within 15 months. Team officials say construction is on schedule and the last steel beams will go into place soon.
United isn’t the only team facing early-season scheduling issues. With renovations underway at Providence Park, the Portland Timbers’ home opener will not take place until April 14. Los Angeles FC, an expansion team, will make its home debut April 29 at Banc of California Stadium, which is nearing completion adjacent to the L.A. Coliseum.
In a rematch of the Eastern Conference finals, MLS Cup champion Toronto FC will welcome the Columbus Crew on March 3 at BMO Field. LAFC’s debut will come the next day at MLS Cup runner-up Seattle.
MLS home openers
(all times are Eastern)
Columbus Crew at Toronto FC, 1
Atlanta United at Houston Dynamo, 3:30
D.C. United at Orlando City, 7:30
Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas, 8
Chicago Fire at Colorado Rapids, 9
Minnesota United at San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30
New England Revolution at Philadelphia Union, tba
Los Angeles FC at Seattle Sounders, 5
Montreal Impact at Vancouver Whitecaps, 6
New York City FC at Sporting Kansas City, 7:30
Portland Timbers at Los Angeles Galaxy, 10
(New York Red Bulls are off)
Montreal Impact at Columbus Crew, 1
Colorado Rapids at New England Revolution, 1:30
Los Angeles FC at Real Salt Lake, 3:30
Portland Timbers at New York Red Bulls, 7
Sporting Kansas City at Chicago Fire, tba
D.C. United at Atlanta United, 3
Los Angeles Galaxy at New York City FC, 5
Toronto FC at Montreal Impact, 3
Houston Dynamo at D.C. United, tba
Chicago Fire at Minnesota United, tba
Minnesota United at Portland Timbers, 10:30
Seattle Sounders at Los Angeles FC, 9