It looks like Toronto will end up getting that early March home game that many had speculated about but it will not be against the Montreal Impact in part of a dome and dome series. TFC is scheduled to take part in the Impact's home opener at the Big O on March 16th leaving the door open for that series to still take place even if it does not include both club's home openers. Instead, TFC will open their home campaign on March 9th when they play host to Sporting Kansas City.
The venue for the home opener is currently listed as TBD but it is almost certain that a game that early in March will have to take place at the Rogers Centre as BMO Field is not equipped to deal with temperatures below zero. The team will be back at the dome for at least one match and unless they follow up that March 16th game in Montreal with a bit of a road trip they may end having to use the dome twice. It is not the ideal venue for a soccer match but the simple fact is that every time the MLS pushes the start of the season further forward into the spring the less choice the club has when it comes to venue. It is quite unlikely that BMO Field will be winterized any time soon so games at the Dome might become a more regular thing if the club wants to avoid starting each campaign with massive road trips lasting for at least the entire month of March.
Toronto will open up the season by taking part in First Kick as they are scheduled to visit the Vancouver Whitecaps on March 2nd. That match will also be indoors at BC Place meaning that to start the 2013 season TFC will likely be playing in domes for three straight matches. That is a bit of a concern with the club's aging spine not likely to respond well to play on carpet for that many games in a row. Last year it was the season opener in Seattle after playing on turf in the Dome where Torsten Frings picked up an injury that certainly played some part in the club's 0-10 start to the MLS season.
It is good to see that Toronto will not be starting the season on the road for an extended period of time and it will be interesting to see how long it takes for them to play a second home match when the full schedule is released. If they are only planning to use the dome once then that second home game might not be for a while. In 2012 the first time that they used BMO was the March 24th home opener against San Jose which was a cold and windy afternoon that could not have been far above zero. Even games at the end of March come with the risk of freezing temperatures and costly damage to the grass so it will be interesting to see when the club gets its second home game.
It is not ideal that Toronto will be playing on carpet for three games to start the year but the good news is that they should be in for three good games to start. The team always seems to be up the challenge when it comes to playing against Montreal or Vancouver and a meeting with Kansas City will be a very good measuring stick of where the team is early in the season as Sporting will likely be among the favourites to win the East in 2013.
The last team to open their home campaign in 2013 will be the New England Revolution who don't take to the field at Gillette Stadium until week four of the season on March 23rd which is probably around when Toronto's home opener would have been had they not been planning on using the Dome.
The full schedule of home openers, from MLSSoccer is as follows:
Saturday, March 2:
Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City (PPL Park)
FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids (FC Dallas Stadium)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Toronto FC (BC Place)
Houston Dynamo vs. D.C. United (BBVA Compass Stadium)
Seattle Sounders FC vs. Montreal Impact (CenturyLink Field)
Chivas USA vs. Columbus Crew (The Home Depot Center)
Sunday, March 3:
Saturday, March 9:
Toronto FC vs. Sporting Kansas City (TBD)
D.C. United vs. Real Salt Lake (RFK Stadium)
Colorado Rapids vs. Philadelphia Union (Dick's Sporting Goods Park)
Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution (Toyota Park)
Saturday, March 16:
New York Red Bulls vs. D.C. United (Red Bull Arena)
Sporting Kansas City vs. Chicago Fire (Livestrong Sporting Park)
Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids (Rio Tinto Stadium)
Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC (Olympic Stadium)
Columbus Crew vs. San Jose Earthquakes (Crew Stadium)
Saturday, March 23:
New England Revolution vs. FC Dallas (Gillette Stadium)