We’ve known for about a month now that Atlanta United will play their first home matches at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Regardless of how people feel about it, we have to start planning our trips to Georgia Tech.
Dirty South Soccer wrote a story early in October regarding what the schedule may look like while at Bobby Dodd. However, new information has surfaced that really gives us a better idea on when exactly Atlanta United’s home and away fixtures could take place.
A few days ago, the available dates for Atlanta United to play at Bobby Dodd were released by the AJC. Not only that, the news that Mercedes-Benz Stadium won’t be complete until “late June to early July” means we can expect a few more home fixtures at Bobby Dodd than initially anticipated. Also, from what we’ve heard, the plan is to still have a generally balanced home and away schedule regardless of what stadium Atlanta United is playing in.
With all that being said, let’s take a look at what we can be expected for Atlanta’s inaugural schedule until Mercedes-Benz stadium is completed.
It’s important to remember that World Cup qualifiers, the FIFA Confederations Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup will all take place at some point next season. In the past, MLS has played through the Confederations Cup and Gold Cup. This year, the league took a two-week break during the group stage of the Copa America Centenario. The league has been building in more breaks for FIFA International Windows in recent years.
For argument’s sake, let’s assume that MLS continues the trend of playing through international tournaments, but that they opt to avoid scheduling during the World Cup qualifying windows. Let the scheduling predictions commence.
If MLS decides to model its schedule after this season, expect Opening Day to be on Sunday, March 5th. I’m expecting this to be a home match. You’ll understand why in a second.
The following two weekends will both be available, and Atlanta United will use both of those weekends to play home matches. You heard right, Atlanta will open the season with three consecutive home fixtures.
I know what you all are thinking, “First we were afraid of playing most matches on the road, now we’re playing most of them at home?” Not exactly. Following a FIFA International Break from March 24th to the 28th, Bobby Dodd will not be available again until April 29th due to Georgia Tech’s spring football schedule. That’s four consecutive matches that Atlanta United will have to play on the road. If you’re keeping count, that’s three home matches and four away matches so far.
Expect Atlanta United to return home on April 29th or 30th after a five week absence. The month afterward will include a lot of wiggle room. Atlanta will have to play on the road on May 14th, but other than that, it’s up to them. Let’s just assume they decide to play two west coast teams on May 7th and 14th, and then return to Bobby Dodd on May 20th and 28th. Atlanta will play one more away match before another international break from June 7th to June 12th.
After the break, expect the next three matches to alternate between home and away in some form or fashion, until July 9th when Atlanta will have to play on the road. We’ll hold Atlanta United to their most recent projected completion date and say the opener in the new stadium will be July 16th, though that’s obviously subject to change.
So, according to my predictions Atlanta will play eight home fixtures at Bobby Dodd and nine away fixtures during our stint in the temporary stadium. That’s almost perfectly balanced and it leaves an extra home match to be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Obviously, this is a very rough guess. There could easily be a bye week or two thrown in somewhere, but I think if MLS opts to avoid scheduling during World Cup qualifiers, that should be sufficient. Again, we should absolutely expect around half the home matches to be played at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Here’s a quick review of the proposed home fixture dates:
April 29th or 30th
May 26th, 27th or 28th
(Two of the Three):
June 16th, 17th or 18th
June 23rd, 24th or 25th
June 30th, July 1st or July 2nd
What do you think of the proposed schedule?