The 2022 schedule is officially here! Let’s take a look at some of the trends, marquee matchups and takeaways from next year’s slate.

HEADED WEST

The past couple of seasons saw geographical restrictions to limit travel amidst the pandemic but 2022 will feature a lot more clashes with Western Conference opponents.

Dating back to the MLS is Back Tournament in 2020, the furthest west the Fire has traveled is Kansas City. In 2022, CFFC will travel to San Jose, Vancouver, Minnesota and Houston.

Vancouver and Minnesota both qualified for the post-season before getting bounced in the first round by Sporting KC and Portland respectively.

The Fire will also host Western foes Sporting KC, FC Dallas, LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders at Soldier Field.

BALANCE

Unlike 2021, 2022 will feature a much more balanced schedule with regards to home and away fixtures throughout the course of the season.

Last year, we saw a six-game, 45-day road swing towards the end of the summer. Fortunately (for the players and the fans), the longest road trip will be three games: at Toronto, Red Bulls, and the reigning champs, NYCFC in May. Other than that stretch, the Fire will not spend longer than two games away from Soldier Field.

From a Windy City standpoint, the Fire have one three-game homestand in early July when they host three tough teams with some juicy headlines; on July 9 Ezra Hendrickson’s previous club, Columbus Crew will be in town. Then it will be Bob Bradley coming back to Soldier Field but this time with his new club, Toronto FC. The third and final game of that homestand will bring Brian Schmetzer to the lakefront for an Ezra Hendrickson, Arlo White reunion when Arlo’s true allegiance will be tested (jk, but not really).

BIG TIME HOME GAMES

Soldier Field will welcome some serious talent and teams in 2022.

Some of my personal favorites will be welcoming Peter Vermes and SKC on March 19, Chicharito and LA Galaxy just a few weeks later on April 16, the three-game homestand mentioned above, hosting the reigning champs, NYCFC on August 21 (who the Fire went 1-1-1 against in 2021), a first-ever visit from Charlotte FC on September 17 and of course, opening day at Solider on March 5 vs. Orlando City.

If your excuse for not coming out to a game at Soldier Field in 2022 had anything to do with the quality of opponents or lack of storylines, you officially don’t have an excuse anymore.

HEAVY LIFTING DOWN THE STRETCH

After the July 23 date with Vancouver, the Fire will strictly play Eastern Conference teams. It’s always important to hit your top form towards the end of the season and CFFC will have the opportunity to do so against teams they will be (hopefully) battling with for playoff position.

Any of the 34 games on the calendar are important but the final 12 will be against sides that the Fire will either be chasing or trying to create separation from.

Of these 12 games, five of them will be against playoff teams from 2021. There’s nothing like making that late-season playoff push and the Fire will have their hands full with a lot of proverbial six-pointers.