Inside Atlanta United’s 2023 MLS schedule: Analysis, key matchups, and more

It’s hard to believe that Atlanta United will kick off its 7th season in 2023. And it’s clear that all Atlanta fans will be looking for much, much better fortunes than what they witnessed in 2022. It felt for a while like a new Atlanta player ( Miles Robinson, Brad Guzan, Ozzie Alonso, etc.) was injured every week, but the main storyline presented itself toward the end of the year in the form of a standoff between head coach Gonzalo Pineda and Josef Martinez following a 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbersleading to the latter’s suspension and essentially the beginning of the end of an increasingly fractured relationship between the club icon and the front office.

That said, it’s time to turn the page to 2023. Sure, there are still plenty of questions to be answered, but there’s at least some optimism in the ranks: Garth Lagerwey’s hiring as the club’s president and CEO brings an experienced, skilled front- office executive to the city after a number of years as the architect of the Seattle Sounders. MLS veteran Derrick Etienne Jr. will enter the fray as a solid free agent signing for Atlanta. Thiago Almada, a late addition to the Argentinian roster ahead of what turned out to be La Albiceleste‘s first World Cup triumph since 1986, should command a gigantic transfer fee. And, at some point, we’ll welcome Guzan, Robinson, and Alonso back onto the field after their respective recoveries.

With all that said, here’s the Five Stripes’ 2023 schedule, announced on Tuesday afternoon (all matches on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass):

Atlanta United 2023 Regular Season MLS Schedule

dates opponent time
dates opponent time
Sat., Feb. 25, 2023 San Jose Earthquakes 7:30pm
Sat., March 04, 2023 Toronto F.C 7:30pm
Sat., March 11, 2023 @Charlotte F.C 12:00 PM
Sat., March 18, 2023 Portland Timbers 7:30pm
Sat., March 25, 2023 @Columbus Crew 7:30pm
Sat., April 01, 2023 New York Red Bulls 7:30pm
Sat., April 08, 2023 @ New York City F.C 7:30pm
Sat., April 15, 2023 @Toronto F.C 7:30pm
Sun., April 23, 2023 Chicago Fire F.C 4:30pm
Sat., April 29, 2023 @ Nashville SC 1:30pm
Sat., May 06, 2023 @ Inter Miami CF 7:30pm
Sat., May 13, 2023 Charlotte F.C 7:30pm
Wednesday, May 17, 2023 Colorado Rapids 7:30pm
Sat., May 20, 2023 @Chicago Fire F.C 8:30 PM
Sat., May 27, 2023 @Orlando City SC 7:30pm
Wed., May 31, 2023 New England Revolution 7:30pm
Sat., June 03, 2023 @Los Angeles F.C 10:30 PM
Sat., June 10, 2023 DC United 7:30pm
Wednesday, June 21, 2023 New York City F.C 7:30pm
Sat., June 24, 2023 @ New York Red Bulls 7:30pm
Sun., July 02, 2023 PhiladelphiaUnion 4:00 PM
Sat., July 08, 2023 @ CF Montreal 7:30pm
Wednesday, July 12, 2023 @ New England Revolution 7:30pm
Sat., July 15, 2023 Orlando City SC 7:30pm
Sun., Aug. 20, 2023 @Seattle Sounders 10:30 PM
Sat., Aug. 26, 2023 Nashville SC 7:30pm
Wed., Aug. 30, 2023 FC Cincinnati 7:30pm
sat, sep 02, 2023 @FC Dallas 8:30 PM
sat, sep 16, 2023 InterMiami CF 7:30pm
Wed, Sep 20, 2023 @DC United 7:30pm
sat, sep 23, 2023 CF Montreal 7:30pm
Wednesday, Oct. 04, 2023 @PhiladelphiaUnion 7:30pm
sat, oct 07, 2023 Columbus crew 7:30pm
sat, oct 21, 2023 @ FC Cincinnati TBD

key matchups

The home opener vs San Jose Earthquakes

MLS: LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Mercedes-Benz Stadium will mark the beginning of the Luchi Gonzalez era for the Quakes as they visit Atlanta on Feb. 25 at 7:30 pm ET. San Jose closed the book on the Matias Almeyda era in April and saw assistant Alex Covelo lead the team before he hired the former FC Dallas head coach and USMNT assistant. If it feels like it’s been a while since the 2 teams have met, that’s because it has been: the Five Stripes and Quakes haven’t played each other since September 21, 2019, as 2 late goals by Emerson Hyndman and Pity Martinez led Atlanta to a 3-1 win at the Benz.

The Southeastern Derbies

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Charlotte FC

Bob Donnan USA TODAY Sports

Go ahead and start marking those calendars and book those hotel rooms. Atlanta’s first derby match of the season is a midday tilt at Charlotte FC at Bank of America Stadium; The Crown make the trip down I-85 on May 23. Atlanta visits Nashville SC at GEODIS Park on April 29 before the Boys In Gold return the favor on August 26 (7:30 pm ET). Inter Miami CF, who may or may not have Lionel Messi on its roster in 2023, host Atlanta on May 6 before paying a visit to the Benz on Sept. 16. Then, of course, there’s Orlando City: Atlanta’s at Exploria Stadium on May 27 before the Lions head up on July 15. (Quick note: Nashville’s back in the East with St. Louis CITY SC now in the league and in the Western Conference).

A date with the champions: LAFC on June 3

MLS: MLS Cup Championship-Philadelphia Union vs Los Angeles FC

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta get to match wits with the defending MLS Cup champions on June 3 at Banc of California Stadium. There are much worse places than Southern California to catch an MLS match, and there are much worse teams to watch than one featuring Gareth Bale and Carlos Vela. Atlanta, who haven’t played LAFC since 2021, actually hold the edge in the all-time series (2W-1L) but fell 4-3 at the Banc on July 27, 2019 after nearly reversing a 4-1 deficit.

Renewed acquaintances: @ Seattle Sounders on Aug. 20

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Portland Timbers

Soobum Im USA TODAY Sports

Lagerwey and Pineda return to the Pacific Northwest on August 20 to see their old friends in Seattle. Outside of 2020 (COVID), the Sounders and Five Stripes have played each other during each Atlanta season have been in existence; in all 5 matches, the visiting side has never won. We’ll see if Atlanta can tip the scales this time around against the current Concacaf Champions League holders.

Who’s missing?

The MLS schedule format (each Eastern Conference team twice, plus 6 teams from the Western Conference) means that some teams are left off Atlanta’s schedule in 2023. Atlanta won’t see expansion side St. Louis CITY SC in the regular season, nor will it play Austin FC, Houston Dynamo FC (for the 4th season in a row), LA Galaxy, Minnesota United FC (like Houston, for the 4th season in a row), Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, or Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

The Leagues Cup break

There’s a large gap between Atlanta’s match vs. Orlando City on July 15 and its trip to the Seattle Sounders on August 20. That’s because of the Leagues Cup, the annual competition between MLS and Liga MX that begins July 21 and concludes with August 19’s final . Atlanta, as a non-playoff team in 2022, don’t yet know which of the 15 groups it will be in. LAFC (as the MLS Cup champion) and Pachuca (as the highest aggregate points earner between Liga MX’s Clausura and Apertura in 2022) will bypass the group stage altogether and have qualified for the Round of 32.

Then there’s the US Open Cup

Of course, US-based MLS teams will need to navigate the US Open Cup. Eighteen teams from MLS, including Atlanta United, enter on April 18-19, while the rest enter on May 9-10. This year, however, the USOC pauses between June 6’s quarterfinal and August 23’s semifinal due to the Leagues Cup.

By the numbers

  • Matches by day: Saturday – 24; Sunday – 3; Wednesday – 7
  • Earliest kickoff: 12 noon (March 11, @ Charlotte FC)
  • Latest kickoff: 10:30 pm (June 3 @ LAFC; Aug. 20 @ Seattle Sounders)
  • Shortest trip: March 11 @ Charlotte FC (242 miles)
  • Longest trip: August 20 @ Seattle Sounders (2,633 miles)

Which match or matches are you looking forward to? Leave a note in the comments below.

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