NWSL reveals 2016 schedule with slight imbalance

The Equalizer Staff February 18, 2016 97
NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush. (Photo Copyright Jeff Kassouf for The Equalizer)

NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush. (Photo Copyright Jeff Kassouf for The Equalizer)

The National Women’s Soccer League unveiled its 2016 schedule on Thursday, and despite there being 10 teams in the league now, there will be imbalance in the schedule.

The regular season will be 20 games, beginning on April 16 and ending on Sept. 25. There will be a break for the entirety of the Olympics, with no games on dates between August 1 and August 25. Women’s soccer at the Olympics in Rio begins on August 3, with the gold-medal game on August 19. The U.S. women are three-time defending gold medalists.

Each NWSL team will play eight other teams twice — once home and once away — but play a ninth opponent four times in the regular season — twice home and twice away. The extra pair of games for each team will come against a regional rival, with sources telling The Equalizer that such a decision was made with travel costs in mind.

Thus, Portland and Seattle will play four times in the regular season. Chicago and Kansas City will play four times and so forth.

The complete 2016 NWSL schedule can be found here. There is no word yet on the start of the playoffs or the date or location of the NWSL Championship, which will be at a predetermined site. There are also no details on a TV deal.

More reaction to follow.

  • Cc W

    One good thing I saw with the Reign schedule is that all the games are either Saturday of Sunday! This makes it much easier when you’re working. Those Wednesday night games were rough even in the summer.

    • Steglitz49

      For WoSo Sat or Sun pm matches are a capital idea. Whether you kick off at 2pm or 3pm does not make any difference but already 4pm is too late.

      Wednesdays are for the Challenge cup and Champions League ties.

  • bfredrix

    Here are the pairings of teams that will play each other four times with their place in the 2015 regular season standings:
    (9) Boston – (7) Western NY
    (2) Chicago – (3) Kansas City
    (-) Orlando – (5) Houston
    (6) Portland – (1) Seattle
    (8) Sky Blue – (4) Washington

    • STT

      I think Washington will be worse this year with Gabarra at the helm, replaced in the top 6 by Orlando. So basically these pairings force the top6 teams against each other and opening the door for a bottom4 team to sneak into the playoffs – which is really bad assuming it’s still a four-team playoffs.

      • mockmook

        If the pairings are pretty balanced (quality wise), and I believe they are, how does any team gain an advantage?

        IOW, probability would say that each preferred pairing will effectively split 2-2, then, all the other games will determine who comes out on top.

        • STT

          My issue is that you can’t count on two close teams actually splitting results evenly. If you were to randomly assign the pairs (or, even better, split the 2 extra games between 2 random teams instead of putting both games against the same team) then the extra games would more likely reinforce the rest of the standings. The problem is that if any pair of the current extra games go unevenly, that’s essentially a six-pointer (twelve-pointer?) that could massive switch what the standings would otherwise be. It’s a less-rigid version of putting all the strong teams in one conference, all the weak teams in the second conference, and then giving both conferences equal playoff representation.

          • mockmook

            If a team does better than “average” against its “balanced” rival, then it earned its advantage.

            It’s no different than saying if any team wins a bunch of games in any un-balanced schedule (regardless how difficult the competition), then it had an “advantage” (even though it earned that “advantage”).

          • STT

            For the team that wins, yes they earned it. However, take the CHI-KC pairing. The two teams went 2-3 last year. It’s not unreasonable to expect they should go 2-3 this year, too, all other things being even. But let’s say whoever is the slightly weaker gets bugged by the slightly stronger over the two extra games. That’s four to six points they arguable should have gotten with “more equitable” scheduling, at that four to six points could easily drop them from 3rd to out of the playoffs.

            Of course, every unbalanced schedule will have some teams with easier Strength-Of-Schedule and some with harder SOS. My point is that, even in unbalanced schedules, the league should in theory do its best to minimize the differences in SOS, and the current pairings do essentially the opposite. I still say the two extra games should have been split between different teams.

          • mockmook

            Balanced or unbalanced, if a team gets hot, they gain an “advantage”. I don’t see how any schedule prevents that. And I believe that is all that you are describing.

          • STT

            If you talk about a team getting “hot” then everything else goes out the window, so that shouldn’t be a part of the discussion. And that’s not what I’m describing at all. One or two games against a given opponent does not make a team “hot”. All it says is whether one team plays a spoiler to that specific opponent. Besides, I’ve always talking about the DISadvantages here, not the advantages.

            A schedule, if imbalanced, should do its best to minimize the imbalance. You want to have the most level playing field you can get. Doing 1×4/8×2 is inherently going to be worse in that respect than 2×3/7×2. On top of that, the SOS distribution is not random, it’s skewed harder to the teams that would normally be expected to do better on a level playing field.

          • mockmook

            You’re trying to perfect the imperfectible.

            Every argument you make can be used on the systems you advocate.

          • guest

            “if a team gets hot, they gain an ‘advantage'”
            You mean the better team wins?
            “I don’t see how any schedule prevents that.”
            No, I don’t see how.

          • guest

            “if any team wins…, then it had an “advantage” ”
            If by “had an advantage” you mean “was the better team,” then you’re wrong because the better team (based on past record) does not always win.

        • another guest

          as you state, pairings that are balanced quality wise (1v2, 3v4, 5v6, etc) yields approximately even chance for all teams.The traditional seeding (1v10, 2v9, 3v8, etc) creates strong bias for the higher seeds (which is the intent of traditional seeding). A “random” draw will also potentially disadvantage some teams (unless the draw produces the “balanced quality” matches).

          Net/net no method of assigning the extra 2 matches will satisfy everyone. Owners chose regional pairings – which saves the owners travel expense money.

        • guest

          This assumes the match ups are equal, but they’re not. Let’s say two teams are in a playoff race and one team has a tougher regional opponent than the other. Which team has the harder path to the playoffs? Obviously the one with the tougher regional opponent. The Reign were dominant last season, and this unbalanced schedule makes their job that much easier this year. The teams that the unbalanced schedule will really impact are the bubble teams.

          • mockmook

            All the regional opponents are pretty well balanced except perhaps SBFC WASH.

            If you don’t think Portland will be a tough opponent for Seattle, I don’t know what to say to you.

      • another guest

        Chicago and FCKC – lasts years #2 and #3 – could perhaps claim the regional pairings are more difficult for them, but #1 Seattle gets #6 Portland, while #4 Washington gets #8 Sky Blue and #5 Houston gets the unknown Orlando so one could claim that those top teams (#1, #4 and #5) are all given favorable regional match ups.

        Traditional seeding (top team paired with bottom etc) strongly favors the higher ranked teams. Completely random pairings – which might produce just as much variety or perceived unfairness – could have been to used vs “regional location” but the NWSL owners chose to use regional pairings to limit travel expense.
        Not an unreasonable decision from an owners perspective.

        Worth noting that the previous years schedule also had teams playing some teams more than others so there were also some schedule advantages in the previous years setup.
        Any schedule setup other than home and away based schedule where teams play ever other team equally will have some bias.

        • Miki

          On paper though, Portland *should* be much better this year with high expectations set on them, and are certainly expected to make the playoffs/finish in the Top 3. Seattle will be strong again, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see another Shield win.

          • guest

            on paper – all teams start the season equal.

          • another guest

            Whatever ranking one uses ( last years finishing, some sort of adjusted ranking, or completely random ) may still produce schedule pairings that are perceived to be unfair ( the UEFA Championship league with mix of seeding and other spots random draw for example frequently produces pairings that results in 2 “top” teams having to play early )

      • Steglitz49

        Why is that so bad? You want the odd upset in sports.

    • Off the bat, it seems as though these match-ups were the closest we could get to even, talent wise.

      • Timber Dave

        Portland-Seattle is the biggest difference in finishing position last year (6-1), and therefore the biggest imbalance, followed by Sky Blue-Washington (8-4). If scheduling had been done to make the closest match-ups, swapping Washington for Portland to give 1-4 and 6-8 matchups would have made sense — but of course that would mean loss of rivalries and four additional cross-country flights.

        Of course, these match-ups are based on last year’s finishes, and who knows how things will go this year. Portland looked stacked last year and look where they finished.

    • Steglitz49

      With 10 teams in the league, the NWSL can stick to a home-and-away format.

      If they want more matches, either have a separate challenge cup or expand the play-off.

  • David K Anderson

    “Slight” imbalance? LOL. Nothing like making the regular season Supporters Shield meaningless (taking lessons from MLS?).

    • Lorehead

      Eighteen games was too few. Twenty-seven was too many. They might have divided into two conferences and played three games against four, two against five, for a total of twenty-two, but they did say travel costs were a concern.

      • Steglitz49

        They could have expanded the play-off (if they did not want a challenge cup).

    • mockmook

      The match-ups in the preferred pairings are pretty balanced, so no team is going to get much of an advantage (except, possibly Washington).

      • Lorehead

        And Sky Blue was a playoff team in 2014. Raquel Rodríguez might make them better next year? Rochester, NY and D.C. aren’t really in the same part of the country, or else Boston–Sky Blue would have been a better pairing.

        • mockmook

          The only way SBFC is better this year than last year is if AUS and CRC both miss the OG (I know the OG isn’t supposed to impact teams, but it will IMO).

          • TsovLoj

            Tasha Kai might catch fire yet.

        • GT

          Sky Blue has an uphill battle this year. They have lost 4 and1/2 starters in the off-season (Nadim, Freels, Cameron and Levin) (The half is Haagsma-McCall. She started many games last year primarily due to the WC absences.) If think Tasha Kai is sort of a “Hail Mary” pass, but I could be wrong. And Mockmook is right, they really need Australia and Costa Rica to not make the Olympics.

    • Steglitz49

      With a play-off, the regular season is meaningless. (8-1 in 1981, remember.)

      • David K Anderson

        Only if everyone gets in the playoffs…which they don’t.

        Personally, I don’t care for playoffs (although I like in-season tournaments like Champions League), and I wish the league title was decided by position on the table on the last day. But you can’t do that with an asymmetric schedule…

        • Steglitz49

          The ladies Champions league is in season for some teams and out of season for others.

          The domestic challenge cups are in season for each nations. The FA women’s Cup has a classic trophy, the Swedish Cup a challenging one while the French Cup is elegant (surprise surprise) and the Spanish Queen’s Cup is fine too.

        • Keithustus

          Ugh. A championship without a playoff is one reason everyone hated college football for many, many decades. Now it’s closer to being fixed.

  • Lorehead

    It’s a good schedule. I like it. Olympic break from August 1–25, no game days on international breaks, only eight games scheduled on weekdays, and the imbalances are natural rivalries (except maybe Sky Blue’s and Boston’s, but nothing ever works out for them).

    • Movement

      And a total of 100 regular season matches.
      Not 99 or 101. Not 90 or 110.
      100.

      I’ve been calling for REGIONAL RIVALRIES to be developed.
      Gotta give them a head-start with the scheduling.
      There will be some bad blood with these rivalries.

      Great schedule NWSL.

    • BNiche

      If only the Spirit (DC United) and Sky Blue (NY Red Bulls) were affiliated with their MLS counterparts… then you’d REALLY get one heck of a rivalry.

  • Rdalford

    Count me in the no schedule is perfect category, but NWSL schedule is ok.
    – Appreciate that mid-week matches are limited in number
    – Appreciate that NWSL schedule attempt to avoids FIFA dates and takes 25 day break for OG but worth noting that FIFA window for OG starts 14 days before first OG match. The last 2 weekends in July where NWSL does have matches scheduled fall into this 14 days before OG FIFA window so NWSL teams will most likely be playing without WNT players during this last 2 weekends in late July period.
    – also perhaps some risk of WNT players not returning promptly after OG final. When NWSL picks back up at end of August the teams may or may not have WNT players
    – The regional pairing for 2 extra games (which I understand from save travel cost perspective and from each team wants revenue from 10 home games perspective) does produce some imbalance – but pretty much any solution that added 2 games to each team’s schedule would also produce an imbalance. For some fans, where teams are physically near enough to allow fans to make day trips to the matches, the regional pairing may enable a few more “traveling fans”

    My hope would be that when NWSL grows to 12 teams that schedule is setup in a more balanced/soccer traditional -play each team twice (home and away)- manner

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  • STT

    I was expecting an imbalance because a “balanced” home-and-away schedule would have only been 18 games, and I think everyone would agree that’s too short. However, they could’ve added the two extra games in a more balanced way than putting them against the same rival team. Especially since the six teams not in the NorthEast are getting noticeable harder schedules due to the imbalance – I would’ve put those six as the ones vying for playoffs spots, and the four NE teams as out. This creates some really bad artificial parity.

    • Lorehead

      The league has had an unbalanced schedule in previous years, as well. I’m not sure why people are only noticing this now.

      • STT

        People seem to confuse “balance” and “lack of byes”, I guess. Which baffles me.

    • Craigaroo

      Federation rules for Division 1 requires a minimum 20 game season, I believe.

  • Lord Otter-Blotter

    Regional thing seems like a smart move, I like it. The teams seem matched up fairly well, except for maybe Washington and Sky Blue, though it’s possible Washington will be worse this year with their changes.

    • captainfate

      They did get Naeher, though. Will be interesting to Washington and Sky Blue.

      • what

        Naeher? is in Chicago ( not Washington or Sky Blue)

        • captainfate

          Oh oops brain fart there. I remembered her moving to the same team as JJ and Press and somehow my brain still thinks “Washington”. My bad.

  • Lorehead

    One twist: none of FCKC’s games is scheduled for the MLS club’s park, and only the season opener is still TBD. So apparently, that fell through? Could that be the reason for the holdup?

    • guest

      Last year the first FCKC match was only one played in Sporting Park. Sporting KC is playing in Dallas on the 17th of April so stadium might be available on 16th April for FCKC v WNY but as you note for now venue is TBD

      • Lorehead

        The Red Stars really needed to move, but the Swopes Park field is very high quality, and it would make business sense to move when FCKC is able to sell it out.

        • guest

          Swope grass field is great but problem is lack of seating (FCKC did not add anywhere near enough seats to reach the planned 4000) and lack of facilities (porta pot etc).

          FCKC pulled in 8000+ for match in Sporting Park last year
          don’t know what it cost FCKC for use of Sporting Park but scheduling opening match for Sporting park would be a nice tradition to continue (if 8000+ is enough to cover costs)

          • Lorehead

            Which reminds me: since someone got me to look it up, in theory, USSF says a D1 outdoor WoSo league needs to have all FIFA-approved stadiums that seat at least 5,000.

          • guest

            FCKC appears (to my eye) to actually have room at Swope to add better (larger) and more temp bleachers to bring seating up near 5000. Boston has about 4200 but has stated they could add more to hit 5000. Washington (as they did when Freedom used soccerplex) can also add bleachers on far side to have 5000. Sky Blue/Rutgers seats 5000. Other sites are all well over 5000. So all NWSL sites could probably achieve the 5000 requirement if capacity standard is enforced.

          • The bleachers are kind of horrible. I would love better bleachers, no port-a-potties, and more consistent concessions. Hopefully more Saturday and Sunday games will resolve at least the concession part.

          • guest

            What kind of bleachers would you like? The metal ones we have in Texas make it feel like you’re sitting in a rotisserie oven when the sun is shining on them and, worse, reflecting off them. As for port-a-potties, I wouldn’t go near one unless I absolutely had to, and I’m a guy.

          • These bleachers are very close together, so even an average-sized person has their knees in the back of the person sitting in front of them. At previous fields FCKC played at the bleachers were bigger.

            And the previous fields had stadium seats in the middle of the bleachers for the premium seats. These seats are all standard bleachers regardless of ticket price level.

          • Oh, and the problem with the port-a-potties is their location.

            There are actually real restrooms outside the gates, but once you’re inside there are only the port-a-potties. And they are right behind the bleachers at approximately the 10-yard line.

            I can smell them when I am walking past them to my seat, so the people in that section of bleachers are probably not coming back to a second game after they have to smell them for 90 minutes. If I was a STH in that section I would be irate.

          • Steglitz49

            You may well be right but it poses the question of whether the WoSo teams in EU are registered as playing in their men’s team stadia and then play on their practice grounds in front of 500?

          • Lorehead

            Europeans don’t have to listen to the USSF.

          • Steglitz49

            Clearly USSF want to establish the NWSL as the premier league for WoSo. Having cold-shouldered the Intercontinental Women’s Club Championship in Japan and see it die, they now have the bit between their teeth. Heck, the Algarve cup could end up being replaced by something in the South.

            Thus, the USSF demnding reasonably sized stadia for the NWSL teams is not such a farfetched idea.

          • Lorehead

            I have no idea what you’re trying to say here. Sorry.

          • Steglitz49

            Chelsea Ladies, who did the double this past season, plays in a stadium with a capacity of 3,000 spectators. Yet, BBC1 will show live all 3 of England’s matches in the SheBelieves cup. Whether Aunti Beeb wiil show the other matches I don’t know.

            Which is more important for WoSo in England? The size of the stadium or to be on national TV?

    • Even though they haven’t announced it, I’m certain that the season opener will be at Sporting (Children’s Mercy) Park.

      Last year, they left open the possibility of moving one or more of the Swope games to the MLS park, but that never happened. I suppose they could always move one of the scheduled games this year, but realistically, they would probably only host a semi-final or final at SKC if the opportunity arises.

      Also, there is a new men’s team in town who will share a field with FCKC, the Swope Park Rangers. So, this scheduling is actually better than I expected. We have many core fans who travel in from out of town, so I know they love not having any weeknight games this season.

  • brdn08

    What’s that you say? Melissa Henderson, Kealia Ohai, Kaylyn Kyle, Alex Morgan, Sesselmann and Weatherholt together 4 times a year. Sign me up NOW. I guess that’s an extra trip to Houston. Thank you NWSL!!

  • schoup

    Hopefully in a few years they have enough teams to not have to do the imbalance. Get to 12,13,14 teams in a few years and play each team twice. But don’t be silly and go to the divisions like MLS. Divisions in not how any respected league worldwide plays. I know it’s be necessity the imbalance, but it can make a huge difference whom you play 4 times instead of 2.

    • Steglitz49

      12 is pretty standard in Europe except Spain who has 16.

    • Lorehead

      I know I’ve brought this up before, but the distance from LA to NYC is the same as the distance from Barcelona to Moscow. In fact, no respected league that has to cover those distances just plays a balanced home-and-away schedule. Brazil has regional leagues. The Chinese Super League has all of its teams in the northeast, except Chongqing and Guangzhou. If you measure from New York instead of Beijing, that’s as if you had most of your teams between Boston and D.C. (like WPSL Elite), then added two in St. Louis and Miami. All the teams in the Russian Premier League are within 1,200 km of Moscow. The Champions League and Europa League both have regional qualification, then groups, then a single-elimination playoff.

      • Steglitz49

        The ladies Champions League does have some regional qualification but then goes into a home-and-away knockout till they have a one match final (it used to be home and away too but that is a while back).

        Your point about distances is well taken though. It is a major burden for WoSo. It does not matter so much to the rich clubs but the poor ones dread the long expensive flights.

        The solution for the US is obvious: regionalized leagues and then bolt a Champions League on top of that.

        • Lorehead

          The two exceptions, if Wikipedia are to be believed, are the two competing leagues in India. Those do play home-and-away with cities all over the country.

          • Steglitz49

            The teams in the Aussie W-league are fairly scattered with teams in Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane as well as the teams around Sydney and also Melbourne and Canberra.

          • Lorehead

            Those cities are all in southeastern Australia. The A-league is another example like China’s Super League, where most of the teams are clustered in the same region, and then you have two that are far away: Perth 4,000 km to the west and New Zealand 2,200 km to the east. So that’s one trip everybody has to make to Perth each year, and I’m guessing the league tries to minimize the number of times the Perth Glory have to travel back and forth.

          • Steglitz49

            The reality is that there is a team in Perth and in Brisbane and Adelaide, apart from the others in and around Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Brisbane to Adelaide is about 1000 miles, about the total length of Sweden.

            Obviously, if there was a simple way to run pro-WoSo in the US, two leagues would not have gone down in flames and the third one survive on starvation wages.

            Maybe instead of teams scattered all over the US, some rethink around clustered teams is needed. The US is vast, distances are huge and WoSo has precious little money.

          • Lorehead

            I think that demonstrates my point. Sweden, compared to Russia, China, the U.S. or India, is a small country; furthermore, most of its people are clustered in the south. The distances we’re talking about for teams in Sweden turn out to be comparable to the distances the teams in Russia, China or Australia actually need to travel in practice, with one or two exceptions. There are just vast areas of those countries that don’t have big cities with first-division teams in them.

            The U.S. and India are different, because they’re big countries where the first-division teams are pretty evenly spread out.

          • Steglitz49

            An 18 year old Marta came to Umeå to play. Umeå is about level with Fairbanks in Alaska but it is not the northernmost WoSo team in Sweden.

            Euro-13 was played in what the Swedes call middle Sweden but really in the southern bit, which indicates how people view their countries.

            The girls from the poorer teams in Sweden sleep on their coaches to save hotel costs. In France, the FFF introduced the point system of 1 pt for a loss, 2 for a draw and 4 for a win because poor WoSo teams preferred to forfeit a game rather than incur travel costs. What Zlatan earns in a year playing for PSG would pay for most of the WoSo leagues in the world, an certainly what CR7 earns. In German WoSo teams, their busdriver is usually in the team picture — he is often of Turkish descent, like Özil.

          • Lorehead

            One lower-division men’s team in the U.S. traded a player for a bus ride and hotel rooms.

          • Yeah, but the 2 Melbourne teams play very close to each other, and the 2 Sydney teams play about an hour away from each other.

            Newcastle is only a couple hours from Sydney, and Adelaide to Melbourne is about the distance from Chicago to KC. So, they’re similar to the US, but even closer together. Perth is the big outlier, but the rest are very close (under 1 hr), close (2-3 hours), or manageable (8-9 hrs).

          • Steglitz49

            Just like Europe. Two or more teams in a town, sometimes lots, female as well as male.

            Maybe Florida can support 4 NWSL teams. If so, let them. If Texas can manage another 3, let them.

      • Lorehead

        And those aren’t even the furthest pair of cities in MLS any longer. If it gets its team in Miami, that will be 5,500 km from Vancouver. That’s more than the distance from Lisbon to Tehran, Riyadh, Congo, Ottawa or Philadelphia.

      • schoup

        The teams with the biggest travel expense are Portland and Seattle. That’s why when they talk of being at 14 teams by 2020 i think they will be all west teams…Salt Lake, LA, SJ, Colorado, etc…Multiple MLS west teams(atleast 4) were interested in teams by what Plush said earlier this year. I could see them going to 14 teams and then having divisions where you play division opponents 3 times (18 games)and the opposite division once(7 games cross division)..25 game total season. The long cross division trips would be 3 or 4 a yr by alternating home/away. Overall as a purest don’t like divisions but it saves money.

        • Lorehead

          I’m not sure exactly where Plush’s statement falls on the spectrum between, “I have a Five-Year Plan for the league in my back pocket,” “This would be a fine aspiration to set for ourselves,” and, “My job is to talk up the company I work for, my honest assessment of its prospects is for confidential meetings, and four years is enough time that I can shrug the prediction off.”

        • Steglitz49

          You need to think of the US with its size and population as all of UEFA. Then experiment with all sorts of structures that make sense for the US. In that context the NWSL is a good start but the pro-WoSo landscape has to develop in its own sweet way if it is to flourish.

      • I didn’t pay attention to the W-League schedule in Australia, but they would be most comparable distance-wise to the U.S. I would assume they play their regional rival more often, but I’m not certain. But even they are closer distance-wise than most of the U.S. teams. Sydney FC & Western Sydney Wanderers play an hour away from each other, for example. And the teams in Melbourne play within a 30 minute drive of each other.

        That’s quite a bit different from your “regional rival” being a 8-10 hour drive away like in the U.S.

        • Steglitz49

          When soccer developed in Europe travel was not easy and it grew organically. That is one of the reason there are two or even more teams in some cities.

          Inter grew out of Milan, Sampdoria out of Genoa, Everton from Liverpool etc. Göteborg, the city where Hope and Christen Annemarie cut thier teeth, at times have had 5 teams in the Swedish male Allsvenskan — a city of 500,000. At one time, Stockholm had 3 teams in Damallsvenskan — maybe even 4.

          Thus, to me it would make perfect sense if Sky Blue is complemented by a NYCFC, just like Seattle and Portland are not too far apart.

          • Lorehead

            As you know, it is common for leagues in the U.S. to put two teams in the larger metro areas, especially New York. The NFL has the Giants and the Jets, the NBA has the Knicks and the Nets, and MLB has the Yankees and Dodgers Mets. (I’m not that old; the Dodgers and Angels are an example of two teams sharing the second-biggest metro area in the U.S.)

          • Steglitz49

            Indeed.

            Why does the NWSL not follow this obvious route?

            NY Rangers and Islanders played in the same stadium. Likewise do Jets and Giants — and theirs is geographically in NJ

            We roted for the Patriots and in ladies college basket for the Huskies. We went to some WNBA matches in MSG.

          • Lorehead

            I think I’d want one successful team in the market before I’d even consider splitting it.

      • When you think about it, don’t all other professional sports in the U.S. have divisions? They may have started out as regional, but they aren’t necessarily that regional now. I think it’s more about being able to handle as many teams as they have in those other sports, or the merging of two leagues (like in NFL) that lead to those divisions, though.

        The semi-regional thing in NWSL for this year doesn’t bother me, but I’m also not sure it’s necessary until we get to 16+ teams. I could see a future official split to 2 divisions if/when the NWSL reaches 16-20 teams.

        • Lorehead

          I wonder what Seattle’s travel bills are. Last year, the NWSL tried to help most of the East-Coast teams play all their West-Coast games in a single trip.

    • Lorehead

      If I were Jeff Plush, I’d be looking to expand to 12, which naturally produces a 22-game balanced schedule or divides evenly into two, three and four. I’d start thinking about getting the thirteenth owner to buy and relocate an existing franchise; if Jeff Kassouf’s rumor that the City Football Group entering the NWSL is a matter of when, not if, it would make a lot of sense for them to take over Sky Blue in New Jersey.

      • Steglitz49

        City taking over Sky Blue does not add a team to the NWSL.

        The trick would be for City to add a team so there will be two teams in the vicinity and build up a local rivalry.

      • schoup

        They said before they are looking to be at 14 by 2020. West expansion to balance the league travel wise and tap into CA. Salt lake is top of the expansion list, 1 LA team(Galaxy or LAFC affiliated). Supposedly 4 MLS west teams have shown interest in teams in the last year. Atlanta had been trying to get a teams for years . There is also NYCFC who say they want a team, were in talks with Sky blue affiliation last year. Maybe they just buy out Sky Blue owners who are pretty poor in running the team.

        • guest

          Or maybe NWSL owners could have a vote to remove SkyBlue from the league and put the NY area franchise in more capable hands.

  • Davestwin7

    the weekend based games for FCKC definitely make it easier for people coming out of town. 7.30 games though make it tough with a 3 hour drive back. but the fact some are as early as 3pm/5pm make it better.

  • Keithustus

    No games during the Olympics?! But then who will be the next Crystal Dunn and be super awesome while the national team players are all gone? We will never know!