The NWSL announced the format of the 2019 schedule in a press release today and dashed hopes we might get a longer pause for the World Cup than we had back in 2015. The league will take just 12 days off for the tournament, between June 3 and June 14; the World Cup takes place between June 7 and July 7.
A two-week-ish break might not sound so bad, until you sit down and think about a few other factors. First, that window is a Monday through a Friday, ie, only one actual weekend falls into it. Second, everyone will want to hold a pre-tournament camp of some description, and we can reasonably expect that the USWNT, in particular, will bring players in for an absolutely ungodly length of time.
Making matters worse for Portland is the ongoing stadium renovation. The Timbers are expected to play somewhere between 10 and 12 games on the road to start the season; assuming the MLS season starts as usual in early March, that likely means Providence Park will be back in commission sometime in mid- or late May at the earliest.
Depending on how Jill Ellis is feeling, and who picks up injuries in France, that means there’s a very real possibility we won’t see players like Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Emily Sonnett, and AD Franch play at home until late July.
That’s the bad news. There’s also some potential good news: although the schedule will remain at 24 games, those games will be spread over 33 weeks, hopefully meaning fewer midweek games and ridiculous travel schedules. Amanda Duffy touts the likelihood of “more Saturday night home games” in the press release. You can read the whole thing below:
CHICAGO (Nov. 28, 2018) - The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced today the league’s season will be extended to 33 weeks beginning in the 2019 season, with the regular season schedule to remain at 24-games for the third-consecutive season and fourth time in league history.
”We are excited to extend the season to provide our fans more opportunities to experience the best players in the world,” said NWSL Managing Director Amanda Duffy. “This move will allow the league’s clubs more Saturday night home games during a season in which women’s soccer and NWSL’s players will be on the world’s biggest stage with the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.”
The 2019 NWSL season will begin on Monday, March 4 when teams open preseason training camp and the regular season will kick off the weekend of April 13-14. The league’s seventh season will be played over 24 weekends excluding a 12-day break from June 3 through June 14 during the group stage of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France before returning to action on the weekend of June 15-16.
The 2019 regular season will culminate the weekend of October 12-13 and be followed by the playoffs, including two semifinal matches on October 19-20 and the championship on Saturday, October 26.
For more information about the National Women’s Soccer League, visit the league’s official website at NWSLsoccer.com, like us on Facebook.com/NWSL and follow us on twitter @NWSL and on Instagram/NWSL.