The Eastern Conference has a fairly balanced schedule, especially compared to the West. Of the 30 games each club plays, 26 are home and away vs the other 13 conference foes. The additional 4 matches are spread among “regional rivals”, and while these matches will determine which teams make the playoffs and who gets home matches along the way, there can’t be any whining when 8 of 14 teams make it to the postseason.
The Southeast have a mini-league for their additional games, thanks for crashing the Southern Derby not-really-from-the-south Orlando. The other 10 teams in the East have a mix and it’s impossible to predict today who will reap the benefits there.
It’s clear USL has attempted to alleviate travel costs by reducing the amount of trips middle of the country teams play vs West coast teams.
Saint Louis is the eastern most team in the Western Conference and the only team to face Eastern conference teams. They have the wackiest schedule: playing 8 teams once, 5 teams twice, and 3 teams 4 times. No Eastern Conference team plays anyone just once or 4 times. The Saint Louligans have 11 of 16 opponents with 1 or 4 matches.
While the makeup of the opponents is one factor to the schedule, there’s another factor that I’m diving in to: rest days.
But before I do that, let it be said loud and clear, with 8 of 14 in the East and 8 of 15 teams in the West making the playoffs, no one can use their schedule as an excuse….or can they?
2 games in 3 days. Bad? Terrible? Awful? The reality of sports is that someone has to pay the bills. We would love to all live in a world where the playing field is perfectly level. Unfortunately, money makes the world turn.
If you drill down into some of the schedules you start to notice some quirks (quick reminder: no whining if you can’t finish top 8 of 14, carry on…). Charlotte play twice on 2 days rest, both times against Rochester, that’s funky.
Fri May 6 Rochester home v Charleston
Sat May 7 Charlotte v Montreal
Wed May 10 Charlotte AT Wilmington
Sat May 13 Charlotte AT Rochester
Not only do Charlotte have to play 3 games in 8 days, but the third game in that series is a long road trip vs a 7-days-off-fully-rested Rochester. Near the end of the season, the scenario repeats:
Sat Sep 10 Rochester v NY
Sat Sep 10 Charlotte v Pittsburgh
Wed Sep 13 Charlotte AT Richmond
Sat Sep 17 Charlotte v Rochester
Another 3 games in 8 days for Charlotte, with the 3rd of those against Rochester who don’t have the midweek game. I’m sure every club has similar scenarios but it’s a strange situation that some clubs play during some midweeks while others don’t.
The other side of the coin are the strange long spells between matches. 15 times clubs go 13+ days between league matches, with an odd number of teams in the league everyone can’t play every match day but those seem like excessive breaks. I’ve reached out to the league to gain clarification, will update this post if I receive anything.