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Morgan returns to Portland for NWSL opening weekend

Alex Morgan returns to Portland on opening weekend with the Orlando Pride. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Alex Morgan returns to Portland on opening weekend with the Orlando Pride. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

NWSL clubs announced the dates and opponents for their home openers on Wednesday. The highlight is Alex Morgan and Orlando Pride kicking off their franchise with an April 17 visit to Portland to play Morgan’s former club the Thorns. Six days later the Pride will play their first home match at the Citrus Bowl against the Houston Dash.

The season will kick off with three matches on Saturday, April 16. FC Kansas City has not announced a venue for the opening of their latest title defense against the Flash. The Blues will return to Swope Soccer Village in 2016 but are expected to play more matches at Children’s Mercy Park (formerly Sporting Park.) Sporting Kansas City are away the weekend of April 16. Also on opening day the Spirit will host the Breakers and the Dash will host the Red Stars.

Among teams kicking off at home on Week 2, Sky Blue FC will welcome former coach Jim Gabarra back to Yurcak Field when the Washington Spirit visit on April 24. Also the Red Stars host the Flash and the Breakers entertain the Reign.

The Flash, who play in the league’s coldest climate, will continue their tradition of being the last team to play its home opener. The Flash will host the Spirit to kick off Week 3 on Friday, April 29.

The complete list of NWSL home openers is listed below. The full 2016 schedule is expected later this week.

A source tells The Equalizer that the full schedule will not be fully balanced, with teams playing one regional foe more than its other eight opponents.

WEEK 1:
April 16: Boston Breakers at Washington Spirit
April 16: Western New York Flash at FC Kansas City (venue TBD)
April 16: Chicago Red Stars at Houston Dash
April 17: Orlando Pride at Portland Thorns FC
April 17: Sky Blue FC at Seattle Reign FC

WEEK 2:
April 23: Houston Dash at Orlando Pride
April 23: Western New York Flash at Chicago Red Stars
April 24: Seattle Reign FC at Boston Breakers
April 24: Washington Spirit at Sky Blue FC

WEEK 3:
April 29: Washington Spirit at Western New York Flash

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