Get your face paint ready, boys and girls - and especially Darth Hooligan (pictured) - next year is right around the corner, and we could be reading the full 2012 MLS schedule by the end of next week.
I know what many of you are thinking after reading that headline: "Did I fall into a coma, and is it February already?" Luckily, the answer is no - MLS seems to have taken the many fan complaints about last year's late, late, horribly late schedule announcement to heart and will apparently release the full 2012 league slate before Christmas. This is good news.
This afternoon, I spoke with an account rep at D.C. United about season tickets for next year. Good phone conversation, as they usually are with United staffers. We talked about the new uniforms, the meet the team event for season ticket holders and other STH perks. We also discussed the 2012 schedule, which, as it turns out, the team expects to be finalized and released as early as next week. Knowing as we do how MLS handles self-imposed deadlines, though, I wouldn't be surprised if they held off by a few days to cross the t's and dot the i's. Regardless, we should be able to start making plans for road trips in plenty of time to have visions of road trips dancing in our heads next to the sugar plums on Christmas Eve.
This is a good, quick turnaround from just a few weeks ago, when the league announced the new, unbalanced schedule format - they must have had the tech guys working double shifts to get this out, and I'm definitely happy about it. The early schedule release will certainly help supporters groups and more casual fans plan to attend more road games, especially early in the season (here's hoping we get to go somewhere warm in early March!). Hell, the extra lead time could help with home attendance, too. It also shouldn't be that much of a surprise, as the league has already announced the home opener dates for all 19 teams, as well as the nationally broadcast match-ups for First Kick.
Most importantly of all: March 10, 2012 keeps getting closer, you guys.