February 12, 2013
Portland to start NWSL season at KC April 13
CHICAGO -- The National Women's Soccer League on Tuesday unveiled the schedule for the inaugural season, which kicks off on Saturday, April 13 when U.S. international striker Alex Morgan and the Portland Thorns FC visit FC Kansas City.
The remaining six clubs in the league will begin their respective campaigns on Sunday, April 14, with Seattle Reign FC visiting the Chicago Red Stars, the Western New York Flash at Sky Blue FC, and the Washington Spirit at the Boston Breakers.
The following weekend, Western New York Flash forward and FIFA World Player of the Year Abby Wambach returns to Washington D.C., where she starred in the Women's United Soccer Association and Women's Professional Soccer and earned championship game MVP honors in the 2003 WUSA league title. In the first of four Cascadia clashes during the year, Portland and Seattle will face each other in week two of the regular season at JELD-WEN Field on April 21, bringing one of the fiercest soccer rivalries in the country to the league.
Each of the league's eight clubs will play 22 games during a 19-week span, with a schedule consisting of 11 matches at home and 11 away, and a high percentage of games being played on weekends and holidays. At least eight of the 11 home games for each team will take place on a weekend or a holiday, so fans of every team will get the opportunity to experience at least one home match during the observation of a U.S. holiday. Games have been scheduled on Mother's Day, Memorial Day weekend, Father's Day and Independence Day.
The schedule will ensure adequate time for travel, rest and recovery so that all teams are being showcased at their highest level of competitiveness. All games have been scheduled with no fewer than two full days of rest between them for both teams. In many cases, teams traveling from the Eastern Time Zone to the Pacific Northwest will play Portland and Seattle on the same trip.
The regular season will conclude the weekend of Aug. 18 with all eight clubs in action during the final two days. Leading up to the regular-season finale, every team will host at least one game in August and no team will travel outside of its own time zone during the season's final week.
The top four teams will qualify for the NWSL playoffs and compete in the semifinals Saturday, Aug. 24. The NWSL will crown its inaugural champion after the final on Saturday, Aug. 31.
Broadcast information for the league will be announced in the near future.
The NWSL is an eight-team league organized and administered by U.S. Soccer. The federation is subsidizing the salaries of the 23 American players, while the Canadian Soccer Association and the Federation of Mexican Football will each do the same for 16 players. The eight founding clubs are the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC (New York/New Jersey), the Washington Spirit and the Western New York Flash.