WASHINGTON — D.C. United will open the newest, shiniest new stadium in Major League Soccer in 2018, but it won’t be ready for the start of the season. That means that in order to balance the schedule, MLS will look to find D.C. home games away from home.
The new Audi Field at Buzzard Point is slated to open in June, nearly four months into the MLS season. Rather than playing the first four months on the road and second four months at home, MLS has asked the club to come up with a better solution.
According to Steven Goff of the Washington Post, United is looking into venues in Baltimore, Richmond and Annapolis to take a share of or all of the games in the first half. This would present a unique opportunity for the team to bring soccer to the greater region and test the temperature of the fan base in those areas.
Goff reports that United expects to play three games away from home, with possible locations being the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis (34,000 seats), Richmond’s City Stadium (22,000 seats) or Orioles Park at Camden Yards, although scheduling conflicts with the Orioles would likely negate Baltimore.
Unfortunately for nostalgic D.C. sports fans, the club will not be considering a return to RFK Stadium. It will also not be considering Nationals Park (MLB scheduling conflicts), and venues such as M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore or FedExField in Landover are comically large for MLS games.
The decision is expected to come sometime in January, with home openers expected in an announcement before Christmas. With United in a bit of a nomadic state, it will be interesting to see when and where they call home to start the 2018 season.