Thursday was Major League Soccer schedule day. The league released the 2017 schedule for all 22 teams.
The Chicago Fire already knew the season was opening at Columbus on March 4 followed by a March 11 home opener against Real Salt Lake, but the rest of the schedule was announced.
While specific broadcast information is still to come, CSN Chicago is once again the home of the Chicago Fire in 2017.
The full schedule is available here. For the second year in a row the Fire will have a stretch of home games early in the schedule. In 2016, the Fire had five of the first seven matches at home. This year the Fire will have four of the first six at home, with RSL, Montreal, Columbus and New England set to visit Toyota Park by April 15.
The Fire will not play in Atlanta's new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the regular season. Atlanta is playing at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium in the beginning portion of the season. The Fire's third match of the season is at Atlanta and is the only regular season match at Atlanta.
After that stretch of home games, the Fire will have a three-game road trip at Toronto FC, the New York Red Bulls and the LA Galaxy, all playoff teams in 2016.
The Fire will host the defending MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders on May 13.
Orlando City is opening its new stadium in 2017. The Fire will head there on June 4.
Later on in the schedule is a potentially tough stretch of three matches in eight days beginning at Philadelphia on Sept. 23, traveling to the West Coast for a match at San Jose on Sept. 27 before heading back home to host New York City FC on Sept. 30.
The final home game is Oct. 15 against Philadelphia and the final match is Oct. 22 at Houston. The match against Houston will be the only inter-conference match in MLS on the final day of the regular season. The league is having every team play on the same day to add potential drama to any playoff races. However, with an odd number of teams in both conferences there has to be one inter-conference matchup. The Fire and Houston get to be those teams on the final matchday.
With two expansion teams the league is now at 22 teams. That means there are eleven games out of conference and 23 in conference. The Fire will play Columbus, Montreal and New England three times and every other Eastern Conference team twice. The Fire will host New England twice and take two trips to Columbus and Montreal.
As for Western Conference opponents, the Fire will host RSL, Seattle, Colorado, FC Dallas, Vancouver and Minnesota and visit the LA Galaxy, Portland, Sporting Kansas City, San Jose and Houston.
The Fire will have only two weekday home games after having five at home in 2016. Both will be on Wednesdays in May. In general, the Fire will play five matches on Wednesdays, down from the seven Wednesday/Thursday matches in 2016.
There will be two and a half weeks between matches in July to break for the Gold Cup this summer. The Fire's only home match in July is the first day of the month. They will return home on August 5.
Sean Johnson's return to Toyota Park could be on Sept. 30. The longtime Fire goalkeeper is now with New York City FC. NYCFC plays the Fire on July 22 at Yankee Stadium before that September match in Bridgeview.