CARSON, Calif. — With the release of the full MLS Schedule on Monday, The LA Galaxy finally know what their 34-game regular season will look like. And just like most of the teams this year, they’re finding out it’s going to be a marathon affair that will include several condensed sprints.
With the league switching its playoff schedule to conclude before the November international breaks, the Galaxy’s season is nearly three weeks shorter than it was in 2018. And with the general start date — March 2 against the Chicago Fire — remaining relatively the same, that means more midweek games for the club and more quick turnarounds.
A deep squad will be mandatory in 2019. And all the midfielders the Galaxy seem to be stockpiling will probably do them good when a Wednesday/Sunday split rears it’s ugly head.
But that also means the relatively shallow defense will need to be reinforced quickly and we’re talking about adding more than on ore two players there.
A QUICK START AND A LONG ROAD
The Galaxy open the season with six of their first nine games at home at the newly renamed Dignity Health Sports Park. But that will quickly transition to six of nine games on the road taking the club through their first 18 games of the season and just beyond the halfway point at the end of June.
In total, the two groups of nine games equal a very balanced schedule. But in practice, The Galaxy will end up playing three Eastern Conference teams (New York Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, and New York City FC) during a span of 11 days — with two games on the road and the final one at home during the month of May.
TOUGH MAY AND SEPTEMBER
The Galaxy have two months where they’ll play six games. And the toughest by far is their May.
In May the Galaxy will play four of their six games on the road. The month includes four Eastern Conference teams and will end with a Friday and Wednesday split on the road with Orlando City and Sporting KC.
September will also see the Galaxy play six games in the final sprint towards the end of the season. But it’s balanced with three games at home and three on the road. And, because the schedule has the club playing on the first day of the month, is actually more spread out with three extra days when compared with May.
We’ve provided the schedule by month, below.
RIVALRIES AND TRADITIONS
The Galaxy will have four rivalry matches in 2019 and that’s down one from the unbalanced 2018 schedule that had the Galaxy faceoff with LAFC three times in 2018 (with the league once again having 12 teams in each conference — FC Cincinnati’s debut this year makes the Eastern Conference the same as the West).
And the first three games of this rivalry season will be completed in just 20 days.
The Galaxy will start their rivalry matches by playing the San Jose Earthquakes on the road on June 29 at Standford Stadium. This pre-Fourth of July match is almost as much of a tradition is the actual Fourth of July match which will take place on a Thursday this year.
This will mark the 24th straight holiday match for the Galaxy and continue the longest tradition of playing on our Nation’s birthday in professional sports. And if you’re playing along at home, that means the Galaxy haven’t missed a July 4th match in their 24-year history.
Their opponent on July 4th will will be Toronto FC.
Then it’s right back into the swing of things as they host the Earthquakes on July 12th and then quickly host LAFC on July 19th.
The return leg against LAFC will wait until August 25th.
It should be noted that the Galaxy have never lost to LAFC.
It’s always good news when an artificial surface gets retired for natural grass. And Minnesota United’s new digs — Allianz Field — will see the Galaxy, and possibly Zlatan Ibrahimovic, make their way to the Land of 10,000 lakes on Wednesday, April 24th.
Minnesota spent it’s first few seasons playing at TCF Bank Stadium, which is an awful turf field. In 2017, that field ended up breaking Baggio Husidic’s leg. But Allianz Field will be a natural surface and that means the Galaxy’s aging superstar at least has a chance at playing in that game.
But with the addition of FC Cincinnati (who plays at Nippert Stadium), the league gains another turf field. The Galaxy will face off against the newest addition to the league on June 22nd on turf.
The club will be faced with five games – including back-to-back games against the Portland Timbers (July 27) and Atlanta United (August 3) – on an artificial surface in 2019.
That could mean that Ibrahimovic won’t play at any of those venues. Thereby reducing the number of games he’d be available to play to just 29 games. Add a suspension or two here or there, a knock, or something else and the total goes down from there.
Good news for the Galaxy? This year, the All-Star game will be played in Orlando. That means Ibrahimovic won’t be suspended for not playing in it like he did last year when the game was held in Atlanta (turf).
The Galaxy will play their first game on turf at BC Place on Friday, April 5th, and round out the turf games on September 1st against the Seattle Sounders.
The Galaxy will be on national tv a lot in 2019. In fact, nearly half of their 34-games will be found on channels being broadcast across the country.
The club will have 15 games broadcast across multiple TV partners this year giving the third-most nationally televised games in the league (LAFC 16, Atlanta United 17).
The Galaxy will have five games broadcast by ESPN/ESPN2, six games broadcast on FOX/FS1 (with the matchup against Atlanta being played on big FOX), one game on Univision, and one on UniMás.
With what can only be described as a decline in coverage by the Galaxy’s local broadcast partner, Spectrum SportsNet, the large number of nationally televised games is a plus for Galaxy fans.
But Spectrum is still expected to broadcast 19 games this season, plus any additional US Open Cup games they decide are worthy of such coverage. And the current television deal, which doesn’t expire until 2021, still is the most lucrative in the league.
ODDS AND ENDS
The only days of the week the Galaxy don’t play on are Monday and Tuesday. However, by the end of last season, the Galaxy had played on every single day of the week with re-scheduled games and other adjustments.
The Galaxy’s longest road trip will be three games and it’ll happen twice during the season. The first will take place between July 27th and August 11th on trips to Portland, Atlanta, and DC United.
The second will be between August 25th and September 11th and feature road games at LAFC, the Seattle Sounders, and the Colorado Rapids.
The “longest” home stand will take place between July 4th and July 19th and feature games against Toronto, San Jose, and LAFC.
In total 12 of the Galaxy 17 home games will take place on either Saturday (7) and Sunday (5). If you add Friday into that equation, you’ll get 15 of 17 home games taking place Friday through Sunday.
Only two home games are scheduled for the “middle of the week.” The Galaxy host FC Dallas on Wednesday, August 14th and host the July 4th game on Thursday against Toronto.
The Galaxy will play every team in their conference twice (home and away) and every team in the Eastern Conference once. In 2019, the Galaxy will play six games at home versus those Eastern Conference opponents and six games on the road including three straight East Coast teams from May 4th to May 11th.
The Galaxy might have to manage minutes more than they ever had, and that goes for most teams in the league.
And once you get to the playoffs you’re going to need to have some energy in reserve. Additionally, with a single-elimination playoff format, having home-field advantage is really going to matter.
Starting quickly has never been something that mattered in MLS throughout the years. A hot team that underperformed prior to the playoffs could win it all. But in 2019, the uphill battle that will face most of these teams if they fall behind and squeak into the playoffs is real. And having to play all your playoff games on the road because of that slow start is a harsh but fair punishment for that lack of focus at the beginning of the season.