Luke DeCock

Could Cary be an MLS venue sooner than expected, if only for a day?

DC United's Freddy Adu greets fans before the start of a 2005 exhibition at what is now called WakeMed Soccer Park. The stadium is a potential venue for DC United’s “home” opener in March.
DC United's Freddy Adu greets fans before the start of a 2005 exhibition at what is now called WakeMed Soccer Park. The stadium is a potential venue for DC United’s “home” opener in March. ehyman@newsobserver.com

While North Carolina FC makes its way through the MLS expansion process, the soccer league could bring a regular-season game to Cary sooner rather than later. DC United has reached out to the local club about playing its “home” opener at WakeMed Soccer Park in March while its new stadium is being built.

WakeMed is one of many sites DC United is considering for two early season games that must be played elsewhere while Audi Stadium is completed, the Washington Post reported, with the Naval Academy the likely site for the second in April. Cary makes sense for the MLS team in terms of expanding its fans base and for NCFC as a chance to demonstrate to MLS the interest an expansion team would generate here. Turnout for a DC United exhibition match in 2005 helped bring the franchise now known as NCFC to Cary.

Unfortunately, the logistics are daunting. Between NCFC, which will play an increased schedule with its move to USL, and the North Carolina Courage women’s team, WakeMed already must play host to 29 home games this season, not including exhibitions and U.S. Open Cup matches. And DC United may have better options closer to home, like Baltimore’s Camden Yards.

North Carolina FC declined to comment. The club is leading Raleigh’s efforts to be one of four teams added to MLS over the next few years. Of the 12 candidates, four were named finalists last month to be one of two teams added in 2017. MLS has scheduled an announcement in Nashville, Tenn., later Tuesday.

Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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