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Photograph of Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ (Credit: New York Red Bulls)

On Tuesday afternoon, Major League Soccer and its teams released regular season schedules and information. Included, of course, was the New York Red Bulls’ schedule. The team’s announcement video parodying The Sopranos (albeit without the iconic intro music) was a nice touch. Even if the New Jersey Devils beat them to it a few years back.

In total the team will play 34 games, split evenly with 17 on the road and 17 at home in Harrison. The first game of the season will be on the road against Orlando City SC on Saturday, February 25. The first chance fans will have to see the team play in person is one week later on March 4. Nashville SC will come play in Red Bull Arena, with the team already announcing the game as a promo night (with reversible beanies being given out).

Overall the New York Red Bulls’ schedule includes a few noteworthy points. Importantly, every match at Red Bull Arena will kick off at 7:30 PM. This is a major feature of MLS’s new broadcasting rights deal with Apple. While local broadcasts were cut because of this the schedule overall has far more consistency. Last season New York games never had a regular time at night, ranging from 6 PM to possibly 8 PM. A set start time is a big step for normality. No matter if fans are attending or watching from home it can simplify the viewing experience.

No matter how much that sounds like MLS propaganda or advertising talk, it’s true. When your team’s games start at one of four times it makes forgetting a bigger possibility.

Even still it’s hard to know how much of an effect the start time of games will have when it comes to bringing people into the stadium. No fan will argue bad start times affect attendance. One only needs to look at this past season’s home playoff match against FC Cincinnati. A noon kickoff on a Saturday only attracted 17,000 fans to witness the first round exit. But team apathy is abound in the fanbase and disinterest wafting through the community. Mending bridges with those groups is critical if the team wants any chance of getting people back into the stadium to take advantage of those start times.

But that’s a topic for another day. For another year even.

Seven games total will take place during the work week with three in Harrison. Those games are against Charlotte FC (June 21), FC Cincinnati (July 12), and Austin FC (September 20). Of note, Speaking of Charlotte, they’ll play an important role in team history when they host the Bulls on March 25th. That game will be the organization’s 1000th match across all competitions.

Another interesting fact is that Decision Day on October 21 will be against Nashville on the road. This is the second time in three years RBNY’s regular season will end in Tennessee. That game saw New York draw to clinch a postseason spot in the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.

New York’s second away match of the season is against Minnesota United FC on March 11. This will be the first time the team has ever played at the much acclaimed Allianz Field since it opened in 2019. Factors such as COVID and inter-conference play have kept RBNY out of the Twin Cities since July 2017. There the team beat United, 3-0, in their then home of TCF Bank Stadium.

On a dour note, the team will not have it’s first clash with expansion side St. Louis CITY FC this year. The team, lead by former RBNY head coach Bradley Carnell, is playing in the Western Conference. Meaning a regular season match will not happen every season. The team made waves within the fan base when it selected Bulls’ prospect Jake LaCava in the Expansion Draft last month. He was shipped off to Inter Miami CF in a trade the same night.

For fans not planning to sign up for Apple TV, only one game this season will be broadcast nationally (at the time of this writing). The September 3rd road game against defending MLS Cup Finalist Philadelphia Union is being broadcast on Fox. Every other regular season game will only be viewable on Apple TV.

None of this even touches the other two competitions New York will be competing in during 2023. The U.S. Open Cup is once again taking place and RBNY will seemingly enter in the Fourth Round. Those games will take place May 9 & 10, 2023. The Bulls will also make their debut in the newly expanded Leagues Cup tournament with the rest of MLS and Liga MX teams from Mexico. That tournament will run between July 15 and August 20.

Overall it’s great to have the schedule out. Personally, the team’s promotional schedule is what I’m next excited for. That will hopefully come out sometime in February. Also, shoutout to USL Championship broadcaster Mike Watts. He released a “proper” version of the team’s home schedule announcement video on Tuesday as well.

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