5 Thoughts: Lansing Ignite FC’s 2019 Inaugural Season Schedule

As we watch time slowly drift by in anticipation of the first ever Lansing Ignite season, every bit of info is precious. Outside of player and coach signings, the most exciting thing we can get as fans in the lead up to the season is what we got yesterday, the schedule. Now we have dates to circle, time off to request, and away travel that we can actually plan.

With the schedule now released, I took a dive in, and here are my five main takeaways from the schedule for Lansing Ignite.

1. The “Rival” Team Will Be Toronto

I speculated on my last post that our rival would be Richmond and bemoaned that it might not be Madison. The bad news is that I was correct in guessing that it wouldn’t be Madison. The good news, is the rival team is actually an even closer drive than Madison in Toronto FC II. While this may seem like a good thing, I can absolutely guarantee that the atmosphere in Toronto will be nothing close to what it will be in Madison. Toronto FC II had one of the worst attendances of any USL team last year, as they already have an MLS team. Sparsely attended games will be the norm there. This also means it might be very difficult for them to drown out even a modest amount of traveling fans. For the easiest driving trip of any in USL League One, get your enhanced licenses ready, as you’ll be able to go there twice. Mark your calendars for Friday, June 7th, and Friday, July 19th.

2. There Will be One Game at Madison, And You Have To Go

The best away game this year in terms of convenience and fun will easily be our one game at Madison on Saturday, June 1st. The Assembly Line plans on chartering a bus there as well. So if you are going to make one trip this year, that is the unquestioned one to make. You don’t have a choice in this. Keep an eye out on this page and our social media pages for more details as we get closer!

Madison Wisconsin on June 1st will be the best game to travel to all year.

3. 10 Friday/Saturday Games Out Of 14 Home Games

In my opinion, having as many weekend games as possible will be very important for this team to get the most attendance possible. On that front, I have to imagine Ignite ownership is pleased with the way the schedule worked out. 10 out of the 14 USL League One home games are on Friday or Saturday nights. I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend night in Lansing, and I really believe that people will turn out big for these games in particular.

It is also worth noting that this isn’t the end of the home game schedule. As the Ignite noted in their release, they still plan on scheduling three more friendly matches as well.

Thanks to Ignite sharing a stadium with the Lugnuts, we can use that to make some guesses as to when those friendlies will be. Based on the schedule as it stands, my guesses are that there will be one in Mid April, one early May, and one in June. Those periods fit in nicely with some away trips for the Lugnuts, and some dead spots in the Ignite schedule.

For those hoping to see a US Open Cup game in Lansing this year, the Lugnuts schedule portends bad news. USL teams generally enter the fray in Mid to late May when it comes to the Open Cup. This is also the stretch when the Lugnuts are almost exclusively playing at home. The Ignite will likely have to win enough games to play in June to have a chance of hosting a game (this is when the Lugnuts hit the road). Unfortunately, once you get to June, MLS teams enter the fray, and they seem to host the USL teams the vast majority of the time. While I will continue to dream about an early June game against the Chicago Fire or the Columbus Crew at Cooley Law School Stadium, it’s probably not happening.

4. Ignite’s Depth Will Be Tested In The Summer

From June 15th through August 3rd, Ignite will be playing 11 games in a 7 week stretch. There will be 3 different stretches with 3 games in 7 days during this period. This also coincides with the hottest weather of the year. This will be the stretch where the substitutes will have to step up, and head coach Nate Miller will likely have to make some of his toughest lineup choices on a night to night basis. If the Ignite are able to stay afloat here, their schedule eases up considerably for the final playoff push in the last 2 months of the season.

5. The Playoff Push Ends At Home Against a Rival

The Ignite couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the season, especially if a playoff berth is still on the line in the last month of the season. The final 3 games of the year are all at Cooley Law School Stadium, and all on Saturday nights. The most exciting development here is that the final game of the year is against Madison. If there is a playoff spot on the line, with a contingent of Madison supporters also in attendance, you can expect the most intense atmosphere of the year for this one. Let’s hope a home playoff seed is all locked up by then, but safe to say, there couldn’t be a better choice for a season ender than this.

-Westen Shelton

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