Baltimore Blast fans will notice two major changes in the upcoming season schedule released today by the Major Arena Soccer League.
For one, the start of regular season play has been pushed back nearly a full month, to Dec. 1, when the Blast take on the Mississauga MetroStars of Ontario, Canada, at Towson University’s SECU Arena. For reference, a few start dates from recent years: the 2017-2018 season began Nov. 10, the 2016-2017 season on Nov. 5 and the 2015-2016 season on Nov. 7.
The other is just how often the Blast will see the MetroStars and their other two Eastern Division opponents: six times each, with three games at home and three on the road. Those match-ups account for 75 percent of the season.
The new schedule comes after the league expanded the total number of games from 22 to 24, and placed a greater emphasis on divisional play for playoff seeding. And like baseball before the advent of interleague play, teams will not face opponents from outside their conference until, potentially, the championship game.
“Last year was exciting from the opening day right to the championship game in Monterrey,” MASL Commissioner Joshua Schaub said in a statement. “This year’s schedule could be even better. With teams being focused on their conference, each regular season game becomes a must-win.”
Baltimore will play teams from the South Central Division, the other branch of the Eastern Conference, only once or twice.
The last home game of the year is March 24 against Mississauga. After that, the team will play three straight road games, ending with an April 6 contest against the Florida Tropics.
“I’m excited about the schedule and looking forward to the challenges that it presents,” Blast head coach Danny Kelly said in a statement. “Every team wants to knock off the defending champions and we relish the opportunity to defend our Championship.”
Season tickets and five-game packages are on sale now. The Blast are hoping to capture the team’s fourth straight championship.
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