With MLS expressing concerns over the use of Maryland SoccerPlex, D.C. United could be put in a position to find another venue for its home opener.
During the 2018 MLS season, United will move into the brand-new Audi Field, which is currently under construction. The club will not debut there until July 14, and is scheduled to play two home matches early in the season, including a March 17 home opener against the Houston Dynamo.
It has appeared that United will use a different venue for both early-season home games, beginning with Maryland SoccerPlex in Montgomery County for the home opener, followed by Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for an April 14 home game. Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium is expected to be approved, but MLS has reportedly expressed concerns that the Maryland SoccerPlex is not up to standard to host the March 17 game.
No final decision has been made to this point, but United is left with limited options for March 17 if Maryland SoccerPlex is nixed. Scheduling conflicts mean that several venues in the D.C. area, including RFK Stadium, are off the table for that date. More from The Washington Post:
MLS’s primary issues with the SoccerPlex, sources said, are the absence of a proper referees’ locker room — it must include a restroom — and the swirl of activity throughout the day at a complex with more than 24 soccer fields and various other facilities. The MSI Cherry Blossom Classic, a youth soccer tournament, will run March 16-18.
It wouldn’t be easy to find another spot for the opener because several stadiums in the area are not available: RFK Stadium (St. Patrick’s Day music festival), Navy (NCAA lacrosse), Richmond’s City Stadium (women’s friendly) and Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium (renovations).
FedEx Field is considered too large and expensive. The Washington Nationals have not shown any interest. Preliminary talks with the Baltimore Orioles months ago fizzled. The University of Maryland soccer facility, Ludwig Field, has a track and field meet scheduled that day and, even if it were available, there are no locker rooms.
That would perhaps leave Maryland’s Capital One Field, which has ideal infrastructure and no scheduling conflicts but an artificial surface with permanent football markings and logos. The stadium is located just inside the Beltway and holds 54,000. The Maryland men’s lacrosse team is away that day and no other events are planned there, an athletic department spokesman said.
Maryland SoccerPlex seats 5,200, and is currently home to the NWSL’s Washington Spirit.
Image courtesy D.C. United.
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