For the first time in MLS history, the Los Angeles Galaxy this season will not visit RFK Stadium to take on D.C. United.
The Galaxy, who forged an early rivalry with United when the two clubs met in the inaugural MLS Cup in 1996 and again in the 1999 title match, will not pay a single trip to the East Coast in 2012, skipping D.C., Philadelphia, New York and New England.
The defending MLS Cup champions from Los Angeles are the league’s hottest ticket, with a roster featuring U.S. national team stalwart Landon Donovan and Ireland captain Robbie Keane. Free agent David Beckham, the former England captain who has spent the past five seasons in Los Angeles, also is expected to re-sign with the Galaxy.
The quirk is the result of a scheduling overhaul for 2012 meant to emphasize regional rivalries while reducing travel for the league’s 19 clubs. Vancouver, Portland, Salt Lake and San Jose also will not visit D.C. this year. United will not travel to Dallas, Seattle, Colorado or Carson, Calif.-based Chivas USA.
United, who open their season at home Saturday, March 10, against Sporting Kansas City, will have two home games against French star Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls: Sunday, April 22, and Wednesday, Aug. 29.
Come May 12, United will be the road team when the Houston Dynamo open the league’s latest soccer-specific venue, BBVA Compass Stadium.
The season will reach the month of December for the first time, with the MLS Cup scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 1. It will be hosted by the participating team with the better regular-season record after previously being a neutral-site event.