The National Women’s Soccer League has made significant changes to its 2015 schedule in order to accommodate the Women’s World Cup next summer
The league announced the new schedule will feature 20 games and a two-week break for the group stages of the tournament. The season will keep its April kickoff date but conclude in September instead of its usual August date.
“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 in a press release.
The league shortened its schedule from the 2014 season from 24 games to 20, with more games being played on the weekend, helping to avoid weeknight matches with low attendance rates.
The Canadian Soccer Federation, U.S. Soccer Federation and Federation of Mexican Football have all pledged to allocate their players to the league despite a time crunch for players.
There is potential for allocated players to miss pre-season training with their respective teams as the federations host extended training camps.
“We have been able to find a balance with Canada, Mexico and the U.S. that will enable the players to participate in training camps with their National Teams but will also allow them to re-join their clubs for some games prior to the start of the World Cup,” said Bailey.
The players are expected to participate in the first three to four games before breaking for the World Cup. Once players head north to Canada they are expected to miss as few as eight games (Team’s with national team players that advance further into the tournament can expect longer absences).
With Bailey confirming there will be no expansion for the 2015 season, the league will keep its two rounds of playoffs at the end of season. The semifinals will take place Sept. 12-13 and a championship match to be played on Sept. 26 or 27.