The NWSL schedule was released yesterday to a small bit of fanfare, unfortunately it appears that the schedule wasn't quite as perfect as we had all hoped.
Yesterday saw the Portland Thorns FC schedule laid out. It was an interesting mix up of teams played throughout the season, which only lasts about four months anyway. One thing that wasn't shown, however, was potential conflicts with the Portland Timbers, a crucial factor for many Portland soccer fans.
After spending the morning examining both the Portland Thorns FC and Portland Timbers schedules here's what I've noticed:
1. The Portland Thorns FC directly conflicts with three Portland Timbers matches
- 5:00 pm - Chicago Red Stars vs. Portland Thorns FC AWAY
- 5:30 pm - Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers AWAY
- 3:00 pm - Chicago Red Stars vs. Portland Thorns FC AWAY
- 3:00 pm - Portland Timbers vs. Chivas USA HOME
- 8:00 pm - Seattle Reign vs. Portland Thorns FC AWAY
- 8:00 pm - Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas HOME
For diehard Timbers fans who also plan on supporting the Thorns I hope you don't mind seeing very little of the Chicago Red Stars. Two of the four matches against them will difficult to catch if you absolutely can't go without watching the Timbers. Additionally, that first game against Sporting KC will be VERY important as it's the only game against them this season. Unfortunate timing for the NWSL.
That last August 17th game is a just a huge scheduling gaffe in my opinion. Obviously, from a Portland fans point of view, anytime we're playing against Seattle it's a huge game. More than that it's a huge opportunity for marketing your product. Unfortunately, they decided to plan the last game of the NWSL season against the Seattle Reign (in Seattle) against a Timbers home game. Granted it's against FC Dallas, but I believe fans will still be more drawn to that game, especially as the pay-off hunt season begins. Very unfortunate.
2. The Portland Thorns never play at home on the same day as the Portland Timbers play at home
While the Portland Thorns FC and the Portland Timbers will share a couple more days beyond what I've listed above (April 21st and May 25th) it's interesting to me that neither the Portland Timbers FO, nor the NWSL decided to take advantage of this opportunity to play a double header with the Portland Timbers. Whenever the Portland Timbers are playing at home, the Portland Thorns FC are on the road and vice versa.
This is yet another scheduling gaffe that I've seen. We saw how it could benefit the U-23s and the reserve team last year so why not the Portland Thorns FC? Would there be no better way to showcase your women's team to people who might not have originally been interested than giving fans the opportunity to come early, catch a Thorns game and stick around for the Timbers game after?
More so than that, it seems there are a number of missed opportunities with regards to the Timbers U-23s as well. On May 16th, for example, the U-23s play against Seattle Sounders U-23s at Jeld-Wen Field at 11:00 am. Then at 7:30 pm the Thorns take on the Reign at Jeld-Wen Field. Two matches against Seattle? Granted the U-23s schedule came out before the NWSL and hosting a NWSL game on a weekday during the afternoon would be terrible. Hopefully the Timbers move up the U-23's schedules to create some interesting double headers. This example, though, seems like a complete no-brainer.
3. All in all, it could have been far worse
While the 3 directly conflicting games is kind of unfortunate, and the missed opportunities glaring the overall schedule isn't terrible. The Portland Thorns FC will largely be occupying different days that the Timbers entirely giving no Portland soccer fan an excuse to miss out on what the Thorns have to offer.
Note: At the time of this writing, the NWSL's television and/or streaming options are completely unknown.
What do you think of the Portland Thorns scheduling break down? Any must watch matches? Any absolutely can't watch matches?