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Breakdown of the 2016 Philadelphia Union Schedule

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It finally arrived, albeit late, but the 2016 MLS Schedule may not be so friendly to the Philadelphia Union.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 Philadelphia Union regular season schedule is packed with death traps and rough patches. That's what happens when you're one of the worst teams in the league. Every stretch of games seems like the worst stretch of the season. I'll give you the month-by-month breakdown here and see if we can't find some light in another abysmal MLS schedule.

March

@ FC Dallas (3/6)

@ Columbus Crew SC (3/12)

New England (3/20)

Why not open up the season with two road games against the Supporters' Shield runners-up and the MLS Cup runners-up? Well the Union are getting that out of their system early as they play FC Dallas and Columbus Crew SC in the opening two verses of this long season. It'll be fun to watch this almost entirely new roster work out the kinks and get used to each other against two of the best clubs the league has to offer. Oh, don't forget about the home opener which has a formidable New England Revolution visiting on March 20th.

April

@ Chicago Fire (4/2)

Orlando City SC (4/8)

@ Seattle Sounders FC (4/16)

New York City FC (4/23)

San Jose Earthquakes (4/30)

April isn't a tough stretch of games for Philadelphia and may actually be the chance for the Union to click and get the season really started after potentially losing every game in March. A week off between the home opener and a trip to Chicago will give the Union a chance to really look at their issues starting out and fix them against a team who is sitting in the same boat as the Union. Aside from the trip out to Seattle there isn't any reason the Union shouldn't take points from all of their games in the month of April.

May

Los Angeles Galaxy (5/11)

@ Montreal Impact (5/14)

DC United (5/20)

@ Orlando City SC (5/25)

@ Colorado Rapids (5/28)

May is a fun month. Spring is in full swing and summer is just around the corner. Starting to think about heading to the beach for the opening of the season on Memorial Day weekend and watch out it's getting warmer out! For the Union it's almost getting too warm. Like hellish torture warm because for them, May is not a fun month. Extending to the first of June, the Union will play six matches in 22 days. Opening with the Galaxy's first trip to PPL since 2013, which is on a Wednesday, the Union get no rest. The midweek match against Los Angeles will be followed up by a tough journey north to Montreal. That's just the beginning as Philadelphia then is given an unreal stretch of games: four in 13 days, including a three-day turnaround in between road matches away to Orlando and out to Colorado. The Union will have their hands full here and may be lucky to grab a few points.

June

Columbus (6/1)

@ New York City FC (6/18)

Chicago Fire (6/22)

Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6/25)

June starts with the finishing of the cruel four-match stretch that may undo the Union's April progress with Columbus coming to Talen Energy Stadium looking to scavenge three points from a tired Union. A lovely two-week break will be welcoming for Philadelphia (although this may be the point in which MLS sides are starting the US Open Cup tournament). They come back to action with a winnable match away against NYCFC and two home games against fellow MLS punching bag Chicago and a visit from the Pacific Northwest in the form of Vancouver. June may be a rebound month to give some hope heading into the doldrums of summer.

July

@ Houston Dynamo (7/2)

DC United (7/9)

New York Red Bulls (7/17)

@ Montreal Impact (7/23)

Real Salt Lake (7/31)

The first full month of summer spaces out quite well for Philadelphia. Trips away to Houston and Montreal aren't bookended by games within three days and aren't tremendously far away. The Union will welcome the New York Red Bulls to Chester for the first time in the 2016 season in the Union's only English-language nationally televised game. Before that occurs the Union will play DC once again at Talen and even before that the Union travel to Houston to say hello to some old friends. July is a good month for Philadelphia to establish themselves and take back their home-field advantage against two Eastern Conference rivals. This is something that has been lost for at least two seasons.

August

@ DC United (8/6)

@ New England Revolution (8/13)

Toronto FC (8/20)

@ Columbus Crew SC (8/24)

Sporting Kansas City (8/27)

The luxury of having one game a week for the Union will come to a halt in August after two away trips relatively close to Washington, D.C. and Foxboro. The final match of the season against MLS Cup runners-up Columbus comes once again in a tough three-match stretch. Home matches against two good MLS sides, a much-improved Toronto and the always-tough Sporting Kansas City, flank a midweek trip to Mapfre Stadium where Columbus awaits. The toughest parts of this season are marked by matches against Columbus. The Union will end their summer with another tough stretch of games and any progress made may die in August and cause looks to the offseason to start early.

September

@ Chicago Fire (9/3)

Montreal Impact (9/10)

@ Portland Timbers (9/17)

@ Toronto FC (9/24)

This would be a fine stretch of games for Philadelphia, if not for the fact that three of them are on the road. A trip to Chicago is a fair fight and the visit from the Impact doesn't impose itself as an incredibly hard fixture, but the trips to Portland and Toronto do. Toronto's defensive improvements this offseason are a cause of concern for all of MLS and Toronto may very well be on their way to hoisting a Supporters' Shield by the time the Union play them in late September. The Union will have to earn any points they get in this month and if they are still fighting for the postseason, the Union may very well have the hardest schedule of competing teams.

October

@ New York Red Bulls (10/1)

Orlando City SC (10/16)

New York Red Bulls (10/23)

I fully expect these two teams to be playoff participants. Orlando is sandwiched between a home-and-away with Philadelphia's top rival: the New York Red Bulls. At this point in the season the Union will likely be out or on the cusp of being out of the playoffs. Playing spoiler can be fun for the Union, but not a whole lot. If the Union can ruin someone's playoff seeding, that'll be the most exciting thing the Union can do in October.

I believe the Union are in a transition season in a lot of ways. Expecting the Union to be playoff bound with this tough schedule and an unfinished roster is too optimistic. By the end of this season we should see a Philadelphia team with a more defined path to success and maybe even some players on the roster stepping up and taking us into the new era.