On Thursday, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) released the schedule for the Orlando Pride’s inaugural season, and there were a few major details to make note of.
Most notably, this season’s schedule will have no conflicts with national team requirements. Last year, the league took a two week break for the group stage of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, but that still left a lot of players missing as the tournament continued. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris only started nine out of twenty games for the Washington Spirit last season due to the World Cup.
However, this year, the league didn’t schedule games on FIFA dates and will take a 25-day break in August, covering the entirety of the 2016 Rio Olympics. This will greatly benefit the Orlando Pride, keeping players like Alex Morgan (USA), Ashlyn Harris (USA), Monica Alves (Brazil), Steph Catley (Australia) and Josée Bélanger (Canada) available for the entire season.
Orlando’s first game will be away against the Portland Thorns on April 17th, at Providence Park in Portland. After that, the team will travel back to Orlando for their first-ever home game against the Houston Dash on April 23rd at the Orlando Citrus Bowl.
The home opener will be just the first of four matchups with the Dash this season with the NWSL’s inclusion of a “rival” team in each schedule for 2016. The Dash roster features U.S National Team players Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian, but the team finished only 5th in the league last season after going on a four-game losing streak at the end of the year. The Pride will have to be ready for them, as games against the Dash are likely to have playoff implications.
The layout and matchups of the 2016 schedule leave the Orlando Pride in a favorable position for their inaugural season. The team is looking forward to starting their training and getting out on the pitch in April.