The National Women’s Soccer League announced the schedule for the 2016 NWSL season. The Washington Spirit, Germantown’s hometown professional team, will play ten home games at Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown.
The Spirit will play each of the 10 NWSL teams twice, with the exception of Sky Blue FC, which the Spirit will play four times.
The 2016 NWSL regular season runs from the third weekend in April until late September. There will be no league play in the regular season during all FIFA dates. In addition, the NWSL will take a 25-day break from August 1 through August 25 for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil, to allow all of the league’s international players, including the Spirit’s own Ali Krieger and Crystal Dunn — who are both expected to be on the US Women’s team in the Olympics — to focus on winning gold medals.
The League will play approximately 74 matches prior to the Olympic break and 26 matches following it. The NWSL consists of 10 teams, including the new expansion club of Orlando Pride. Each team will play 20 regular season games in 2016 – 10 home and 10 away.
The Spirit’s home opener will be on Saturday, April 16 against the Boston Breakers. The Spirit will open road play on the following Sunday, April 24 at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ against Sky Blue FC. The Spirit will play all but one home game on Saturday evenings, with one game coming on a Wednesday night — September 7 versus the Seattle Reign FC.
Schedule highlights include; Saturday, May 7, when the Portland Thorns FC and former Spirit general manager and head coach Mark Parsons returns to the Maryland SoccerPlex. Saturday, June 18 marks the return of former Spirit starting goalkeeper and member of the US Women’s team that won the World Cup last year, Ashlyn Harris to The Plex with her new team the expansion Orlando Pride.
Reigning back-to-back NWSL champions FC Kansas City will come to Germantown to face the Spirit on Saturday, July 2.
Earlier this month the Spirit acquired defender Alyssa Kleiner from the Portland Thorns in trade for defender Katherine Reynolds.
Alyssa Kleiner made her NWSL debut in 2015 against the Spirit and played in eight matches, including four starts, for Portland. She attended college at Santa Clara University and helped her team to an NCAA Tournament berth as well as the program’s 10th West Coast Conference championship.
“I was impressed with Alyssa’s play last season,” said new Spirit general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra. “We believe that she has tremendous potential and will challenge for a starting role.”
Katherine Reynolds came to Washington ahead of the 2015 season from the Western New York Flash. She started and played 19 matches for the Spirit. “We appreciate and respect Katherine as a player and what she has accomplished here with the Spirit,” said Gabarra. “This is a great opportunity for her to continue her career closer to home.”
The Spirit will play three exhibition matches at Maureen Hendricks Field at the Maryland SoccerPlex against top local college women’s teams: the University of Virginia on Saturday, March 19, Penn State University on Saturday, March 26, and the University of North Carolina on Saturday, April 2. These matches will all be free and general admission. However, you will need a ticket to enter. Get FREE tickets here.
On Saturday, April 9, the Spirit will host its annual charity match against Duke University also at Maureen Hendricks Field. All of the profits from the match will go to benefit a charity which will be announced at a later date. Fans and supporters can purchase general admission tickets online for $10 each in advance. Tickets will be available for purchase on-site the day of the game, but will cost $15 each. Fans can purchase their tickets through the Washington Spirit online ticket portal here.
Washington Spirit 2016 season tickets are available now by calling 301-337-8579 or by visiting the website.
Caption: Last year’s NWSL’s leading scorer, the Spirit’s Crystal Dunn (19) looks to continue her league leading ways this season.
Photo by Germantown Pulse.