By Brian Maurer
Photo courtesy of Cisco's Art - TopBin90
MLS released its 2024 season schedule yesterday. Here is a first look at Charlotte FC’s 2024 schedule; the tough stretches, long road trips, and big point pick-up opportunities. The transfer window has barely kicked off, and MLS changes quickly with teams able to alter their season outlook with a couple of signings. However, we can still get a sense of where some of the key moments in the season likely will be.
February 24 - vs NYCFC
The home opener. Charlotte has yet to score in front of their packed housewarming crowd. The upside here is they have also never lost to NYCFC. Something has to give. Dean Smith can come out of the gate hot with a big win on opening weekend. It also could end up being a key momentum-building game since March looks like a doozy.
All of March - @ Vancouver Whitecaps, @ Toronto FC, @ Nashville SC, vs Columbus Crew, vs FC Cincinnati
The Crown has a Canadian tour to start March then they hit Nashville before returning home to welcome the MLS Champs and Supporters’ Shield winners back-to-back. This looks to be a tough stretch of the schedule right out of the gate. Three straight road games, four playoff teams, and two teams with 2023 trophies. The upside to this stretch is that four of the five teams are also in the CONCACAF Champions Cup so Charlotte could be facing teams on short rest.
April 13 - May 4 - vs Toronto FC, vs Minnesota, @ NYCFC, vs Portland Timbers
Right after their tricky stretch in March Charlotte FC has four straight against teams who failed to qualify for the 2023 playoffs. This could be a good opportunity to rack up some points, especially if March goes south. They will welcome Minnesota and Portland to The Bank for the first time in club history.
June 2 - @ Atlanta United
Finally, MLS pushes back the Charlotte/Atlanta matches. The first two seasons Charlotte played them far too early. This rivalry should start to ramp up a bit because there is more at stake with points having a bigger impact midway through the season. This first leg could feel pivotal for Charlotte because of the tough road coming up soon after it.
June 22 - July 20 - @ Philadelphia Union, @ Houston Dynamo, vs Inter Miami, @ FC Cincinnati, @ Columbus Crew, @ Austin FC
This six-game stretch looks like the toughest of the season on paper. Five of six are on the road. Four playoff teams. The MLS Champs and the Supporters’ Shield winners back-to-back again, this time on the road. Charlotte may be welcoming a Leagues Cup break after this stretch of games. What cruel scheduler opted to have Charlotte play Columbus and Cincinnati back-to-back twice this year?
August 31 - vs Atlanta United
The home leg. This one should be circled on all Charlotte fans' calendars. MLS should have been scheduling these rivalry games this late in the season from the jump. We finally will get it here in year three. This game should have major ramifications tied to it on top of the rivalry factor. It could easily be a six-point game, which could ramp up the energy and hostility for years to come.
Sept 21 - Oct 19 - vs New England Revolution, @ Inter Miami, vs Chicago Fire, vs CF Montreal, @ DC United
The season concludes with a stretch of really key matches. Charlotte will likely need to stack up points here regardless of whether they are up in the table or fighting for a playoff spot. Five Eastern Conference match-ups with three of them at home. Season ticket holders being offered an away game with their ticket packages could come in clutch for many as The Crown faces DC on the road on Decision Day. Charlotte fans are going to travel in droves to it and they will no doubt close out the regular season in style.