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11 must-see WPS matches in 2011

The 2011 WPS schedule was released on Thursday and while there may only be six teams in the league, there are still several interesting matches to keep an eye on in 2011.  Here are 11 games with something more on the line than just three points:

  1. April 16, 7 p.m. – magicJack’s Washington Freedom @ Philadelphia Independence – This will be the first chance for fans to get a glimpse of magicJack’s Washington Freedom in action.  On the field the team should be very good with Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, Lindsay Tarpley and more.  Philadelphia, 2010 runner-up, will be a tough test in the season opener.  Plus, Philadelphia is not a long ride from Maryland.  Will Freedom fans show up?  If they do, who will they be cheering for?
  2. April 17, 6 p.m. (FSC) – Western New York Flash @ Boston Breakers – It’s the country’s first opportunity to see the Western New York Flash and the game happens to be on Fox Soccer Channel.  Many view this as an early possibility for a WPS final, so it should be a good one.  The Kelly Smith v. Marta match-up always entertains as well.
  3. May 6, 7:30 p.m. – Sky Blue FC @ Western New York Flash – The Flash makes its home debut at Sahlen’s Stadium.  The buzz in Rochester for this team is pretty decent.  Will the home opener exceed expectations?
  4. May 22, TBD time (FSC) – magicJack’s Washington Freedom @ Western New York Flash – The professional club homecoming of Abby Wambach should be a big draw in Rochester.  This game should also feature two very entertaining teams, which will be good for fans in the stands and those watching on FSC.
  5. June 5, TBD time (FSC) – magicJack’s Washington Freedom @ Boston Breakers – Somehow I overlooked this the first time (credit to Chris Henderson for noticing), but this marks Hope Solo’s return to Boston.  Last year, of course, there was some serious attention given to her visit (at the time with the Atlanta Beat) to Harvard.  By the way, this game is on national television…
  6. June 11, 6 p.m. – magicJack’s Washington Freedom @ Atlanta Beat – With the Freedom’s move to Florida, this match-up is suddenly a battle for southern bragging rights.
  7. June 22, 7 p.m. – Atlanta Beat @ Sky Blue FC – The final WPS match before the Women’s World Cup break.  The Women’s World Cup kicks-off four days later in Germany.
  8. July 6, 7 p.m. – Sky Blue FC @ Philadelphia Independence – This Wednesday night fixture is the first game following the two week Women’s World Cup group stage break.  The Philly-New Jersey derby is a good way to get back into the swing of WPS.
  9. July 30, 7 p.m. – Boston Breakers @ magicJack SC’s Washington Freedom – The Freedom and the Breakers have always had a nice rivalry.  Whether or not that will continue in this new era of the Freedom franchise remains to be seen.
  10. August 14 – Philadelphia Independence @ magicJack SC’s Washington Freedom (4 p.m.), Sky Blue FC @ Boston Breakers (4 p.m.) and Atlanta Beat @ Western New York Flash (6 p.m., FSC) – All six teams are in action on the final day of the regular season, which is a good move by WPS.  All three games should have playoff implications.  So technically, this puts the list over 11 games, but the final day of the regular season is being grouped as one.
  11. August 28, TBD time – WPS Championship – Of course the final has to make this list.  Who will make it there and ultimately win the championship?  Share your thoughts on that as well as which game you are looking forward to most in the comment section.
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