Friday is the time-honored day to drop bad news - especially late afternoon, when people stop trying to find ways to distract from work and start looking for ways to start the weekend.
As such, probably not the ideal time for the New York Red Bulls to announce THREE adjustments to the published schedule (since an accurate schedule is fairly critical communications work for a sports team), but they may not have had much choice: if the changes were just made, then they needed to be announced.
Anyway, MARK YOUR CALENDARS AGAIN: RBNY has shifted three fixtures.
The Red Bulls were supposed to play Montreal Impact on April 4 at Red Bull Arena. Not any more. RBNY vs. L'Impact is now scheduled for October 7; 7:30 pm kick off.
The Colorado Rapids were supposed to visit the Arena on July 25. Not any more. RBNY vs. Colorado is now scheduled for April 29; 7:30 pm kick off.
Finally, the Red Bulls visit to Orlando on July 18 is now rescheduled for July 19. Also a 7:30 pm kick off.
What does that mean for the Red Bulls?
Well, it won't be great for attendance at Red Bull Arena. April 4 and July 25 are Saturdays. The rescheduled home games now fall on April 29 and October 7: Wednesdays. (The date shift for the Orlando game is from Saturday to Sunday - in Orlando, so zero impact on RBNY's attendance.)
It also clogs the schedule a little bit. The Red Bulls' spring calendar used to include matches on March 28, April 4, April 11, April 17, April 26, and May 2. That's a game a week: just as it should be.
Now there is another bye week looming early April - and some fixture congestion at the back end of the month. The Red Bulls will play LA at home on April 26, Colorado at home three days later (April 29), and then travel to New England for another game three days after that (May 2). Three games in seven days: not so great.
Pushing the Montreal match to early October also throws a midweek game into a previously unblemished schedule. The Red Bulls will play Columbus at the Arena on Saturday October 3, and now will have to jump into a midweek game - also at the Arena on October 7. Fortunately, the team's next game is a full week later - in Toronto on October 14 - so the impact on the schedule won't be quite as punishing as the April fixtures.
Why all this shuffling around? Well, because July: MLS teams cannot resist prioritizing friendlies against big-name Euro teams over the competitive games they were allegedly created to contest. Moving the Colorado game from July 25 means the Red Bulls won't have to play a competitive game between July 18 and August 1. Can you smell a summer friendly? Watch that space - specifically the space just cleared: July 25.
Marc de Grandpre confirmed the club's intention in RBNY's official statement: "We have given ourselves flexibility to within our schedule to potentially add international matches in July at Red Bull Arena." Potentially? No, sir - please don't create trouble for your team in its real competitions for "potential" matches.
Moving the Montreal game from April 4 is about CONCACAF Champions League: L'Impact has a semifinal second leg to play on April 7, so the league is trying to help out its last representative in CCL by allowing maximum preparation time.
The Orlando game was shifted due to national television conflicts, as reported by Paul Tenorio for the Orlando Sentinel.
The shifting of the match in Florida will be irritating to those planning road trips, but at least is of minimal inconvenience to the players. There may be fewer RBNY fans in the stands in Orlando, but there is little reason to believe the team will be less competitive.
The other two changes do take away home games that might have otherwise been expected to be well attended (weekend kick off) and contested by appropriately rested players. Now RBNY has sacrificed both some attendance and potentially some competitiveness at two points in the calendar.
In the case of flipping the Montreal game from April to October, that's about letting a team be at its best in CCL. RBNY would hope for the same favor if it were in the same boat, so it ought to be filed under "occupational hazard". If the Red Bulls had been better in CCL last year, maybe they'd be the ones pushing other clubs' calendars around.
In the case of the Colorado game, that creates a fixture pile-up in April, puts pressure on squad depth as a result, and trades away a weekend game in the height of summer for a midweek April evening kick off that will likely struggle to draw fans. And it is self-inflicted: a deliberate move to clear space at the Arena on a late July weekend.
What, if anything, fills that newly cleared space on July 25, and the results during that three-games-in-seven-days run at the end of April, will provide the evidence required to evaluate the decision.
At its worst, it could simply be to avoid conflict with the Gold Cup third-place playoff match taking place down the road in Chester, PA on the same day. One sincerely hopes the Red Bulls didn't just create a little extra work for themselves in the spring so that the Union could fill its stadium in the summer.
Let us know who we're playing on July 25 as soon as you can, RBNY.