It was a busy Friday in the USL newsroom. First they surprised us with the release of the conference alignments at 11 a.m. While there were no big surprises for Penn FC (East!) it was the first time that USL officially confirmed what had been rumored for months, that Orlando City B would not be returning to the USL for 2018. So don’t expect to welcome OCB or the Rochester Rhinos to City Island this year.
This little nugget of information would have been good enough for most weekends, but USL decided to go for the double whammy by dropping each team’s home openers at 3 p.m.
You know how the conferences align...— USL (@USL) January 12, 2018
Now see how your club is kicking off 2018!https://t.co/6PWvOSVh89
Unfortunately for Penn FC fans, you’ll have to wait until April 21st to see the team take the pitch on City Island against the Charleston Battery. This is tied for the latest home opener in the USL in 2018 (along with Ottawa) but it’s not out of the ordinary for Penn FC. The home opener for 2017 wasn’t until April 15th and the home opener in 2016 wasn’t until April 22nd. This is most likely due to having to wait until the Harrisburg Senators start their AA baseball season and then go on their first road trip.
In addition to April’s match against Charleston, there was some information about other Penn FC matches contained in the press release. Penn FC will travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday, March 31st for the Riverhound’s home opener. This will most likely be Penn FC’s second match of the season. They are missing from the opening weekend schedule for the weekend for March 16th-18th, so it looks like they’ll have a bye that week.
It’s also possible to narrow down who Penn FC’s first opponent will be in 2018. Based on the information released by USL, it looks like Penn FC will play away at either Charleston Battery, Charlotte Independence, Louisville City FC, or North Carolina FC during the weekend of March 23rd-25th.
Here’s my logic. Since Harrisburg isn’t a team’s home opener in week two, that means they must be playing an Eastern Conference team who was at home week one. That narrows it down to the above teams plus either Bethlehem or NYRBII. However, both of those teams have other games revealed for week two already, so it’d have to be one of the four mentioned above.
Of course, most of this is just idle speculation as the entire 2018 USL schedule could be out as early as next week. But in the meantime, it’s fun to guess a little.