The 2017 Regular Season schedule for the Philadelphia Union and the rest of Major League Soccer was announced this afternoon.
Each club will play 34 games (17 home and 17 away) this regular season, with 20 of those matches coming against Eastern Conference opponents. Also, Philadelphia is scheduled to appear on ESPN and FS1 in five nationally televised matches.
Their first meeting with newly-expansioned Atlanta United F.C. takes place on August 26th at home. Their only meeting with the other expansioned club, Minnesota United F.C. takes place on September 9th.
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With the release of the regular season schedule today, here are five matches that you should check out this season.
1.) Sunday March 5th @ Vancouver Whitecaps 9:30 p.m. E.S.T.
The 2017 regular season opener will be an intriguing fixture to see as the Union head North of the Border. In their only meeting of the season in 2016, the Union fell to visiting Vancouver 3-2 at Talen Energy Stadium. Jim Curtin‘s side will look to get off to a strong start this season, especially with some new faces joining the club. The first match will prove a lot to what the Union’s goals this season will be, and starting on the road is never easy for any team.
2.) Saturday March 11th vs. Toronto F.C. 4:30 p.m. E.S.T.
In a playoff rematch from last October, the Union welcome defending Eastern Conference Champs Toronto to Talen Energy Stadium. Losing 3-1 in the knockout round of the Eastern Conference playoffs left a bad taste in the mouths of the Union players and revenge will definitely be on their minds. The home opener should see a packed stadium, and a lot of energy from not only the players, but the fans as well. Sebastian Giovinco and Alejandro Bedoya will be the stars on show in the first of two meetings between the teams this season.
3.) Saturday April 8th vs. Portland Timbers 7:00 p.m. E.S.T.
This is an interesting fixture as the Union travel to Providence Park to face the 2015 Champs, Portland Timbers. In their only meeting a season ago, the Union fell 2-1 away from home. Portland missed out on the MLS Playoffs last season after hoisting the trophy in 2015-16. I feel if the Union want to be a dominant force this season, then beating some top Western Conference opponents will have to be a priority. Jim Curtin’s side only won one match against Western Conference opponents last season, and that needs to change in 2017.
4.) Saturday May 6th vs. New York Red Bulls 7:00 p.m. E.S.T.
The first meeting between these two East Coast rivals takes place at Talen Energy Stadium. In three meetings last season, the Union drew once and fell twice to NYRB. A victory in May should help the tone for a busy summer for both teams. To be a prominent force in the Eastern Conference this season, the Union need to treat these fixtures against the Red Bulls as playoff showdowns. Dominant performances against their East Coast rivals could play big dividends this season.
5.) Sunday October 1st vs. Seattle Sounders 1:00 p.m. E.S.T.
A big jump here from four-to-five, but a home match against the defending champs will be a must-see. Philly fell to Seattle away from home last season 2-1, and will definitely like to win this fixture at home. It will be a tough match to prepare for with the end of the season approaching, but a win could prove the Union belong in the Playoff Talk. Seattle won their first M.L.S. Cup in December at Toronto on penalties, and will definitely hope to return to the title game this season.
Overall, 2017 should be a fun and exciting season for the Philadelphia Union as they try to make it back to the M.L.S. playoffs. Be sure to check back on Section 215 for all the preseason build-up, with the regular season opener under two months away.