National Women’s Soccer League Schedule Release Leaves Questions
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) released its schedule for its second season of operation earlier today. Now with nine teams keeping the schedule uniform was a tall order, and there are some easy questions to ask from the 19-week list. The Houston Dash will kick off their first season in the league on the first night of the schedule, Apr. 12, against the defending champion Portland Thorns and Alex Morgan. Aug. 17 is the final day of the regular season schedule with two weekends of playoffs to follow. Each team will have 24 games. The struggle to balance a schedule for a league of odd numbered teams is hard to quantify, but it still leaves us scratching our heads in areas.
The number of matches being played on midweek nights is up slightly from last year. However, even those played on weekends or holidays are questionable. The Boston Breakers‘ home opener is on Apr. 20, which happens to be Easter Sunday and during a sure-to-be emotional Boston Marathon weekend. The Breakers are also battling scheduling issues of their own as many NWSL teams have not truly developed a home field. Conflicts with Harvard seem to be the reason for a seven-game away stretch in the middle of the season.
The Chicago Red Stars have yet to announce the venue for their home opener on Apr. 19. They also play at Boston twice in a four-day stretch in mid-May. Meanwhile, Sky Blue FC have returned to Yurcak Field at Rutgers University. Perhaps University events created a schedule that is heavily waiting to Wednesday or Sunday night. Sky Blue will have several matches on Wednesday while school is still in session.
Kansas City will be off during the final week of the season meaning they will have two weeks of rest if they make the playoffs. The Red Stars are the odd team out on the opening weekend of the season.
While the league continues to work out the bugs in its second year, there are some intriguing matchups. The Breakers face the Seattle Reign on Apr. 13 as Sydney Leroux returns after being traded to Seattle in November partially in exchange for her best friend Kristie Mewis. The Cascadia conflict resumes on May 10 in Portland as Seattle travels to the home of the defending champions. Aug. 13 is the final home match for Abby Wambach and the Western New York Flash before the U.S. striker focuses on the 2015 World Cup.
Most teams have opened ticket sales with the season opener two months away.