According to the MLS, Toronto FC’s schedule for the 2016 season is one of the easiest in the league.
The MLS has released its full schedule for the 2016 season. One notable change from last season is that every game on Decision Day, the last day of the regular season which features every team in action, will kick off at the same time. For any journalists that cover this league full-time, my heart goes out to you.
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To go along with the schedule release, the MLS also revealed its strength of schedule rankings. The strength of schedule is calculated according to their opponent’s average points per game on the road and at home. When it’s all said and done, Toronto FC’s schedule ranks second-best, with a rating of 1.36:
Giving the defending Supporters Shield champion Red Bulls the easiest schedule could be an example of the league playing favourites, but given the way they brushed aside their opponents with ease in the regular season, it was probably a given. In fact, TFC’s first game of the season will be in Red Bull Arena, and while our home record was solid (11-1-5), our road record was horrendous (4-3-10).
While teams always play conference opponents 2 to 3 times every year, they only play out of conference teams once. Whether they play out of conference teams at home or on the road, or face a certain conference opponent on the road twice is what makes the strength of schedule different for everyone.
Even though it feels good to have the second-best schedule in the league, first and last aren’t very far off from each other. And looking at the schedule, the team’s first eight games are on the road (because of stadium renovations). However, once that’s out of the way, they will get an extended period of time in the friendly confines of BMO Field on more than one occasion, as noted by Kurtis Larson:
Nevertheless, Toronto FC has brought in plenty of great reinforcements in the offseason to prepare them for any type of schedule. The fact that their schedule is lighter in comparison to the rest of the league is encouraging, but it shouldn’t let the players take their foot off the gas pedal.