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NWSL to play 20-game schedule, break for World Cup; national team players to miss 7-8 games

NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey. (Photo Copyright: Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey. (Photo Copyright: Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

The National Women’s Soccer League will play a 20-game schedule in 2015 and take a two-week break for the group stage of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the league announced on Wednesday. The season will stretch from April to September.

Preseason will begin on March 9. The World Cup break will last from June 7-19.

National team players from Canada, Mexico and the United States will once again be allocated to the league, the NWSL announced, and will be available to “participate in the first three to four NWSL matches before the start of the Women’s World Cup.” Players from the three national teams are expected to miss 7-8 total games in 2015.

The three federations, however, are still expected to host extended training camps prior to the start of the World Cup, which begins on June 6, 2015. According to the NWSL, the federations “have agreed to release their players to participate from the start of the 2015 season.”

That marks a slight change in plans for Canada, which had planned to go into full residency and not allow players to participate in the NWSL until after the World Cup, according to documents obtained by The Equalizer in January. Now, they are scheduled to play in 3-4 matches prior to the World Cup.

“We are very pleased to announce the new schedule for the upcoming 2015 NWSL season, which will allow us to have a March to September format with more weekend dates,” NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey said. “The 2015 NWSL season will also feature a short break at the start of the Women’s World Cup, which will allow the clubs and fans to fully focus on the excitement of the 2015 FIFA World Cup.”

The 2015 playoffs will begin with the semifinals on the weekend of Sept. 12-13, 2015, followed by a championship match on Sept. 26 or Sept. 27, allowing a one-week break for FIFA dates.

Sixteen of each club’s 20 matches will be played on the weekends next season, according to the league. There will be a total of 90 games across the league.

Training camps will begin in March and the season will kick off in April, running through September. The last time a U.S. women’s professional league ran deep into September was in 2010, when WPS played until the final weekend of September. Players at the time were largely against the move, since it cut short some of their ability to play overseas before transfer windows closed, as well as their abilities to secure college coaching jobs, among other things.

Teams were also impacted, as some played in college venues, making it harder to secure venues during college football and soccer seasons. Teams also had to pay players for a longer amount of time with the season stretching into September.


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