Women's Professional Soccer announced the 2011 fixture list for its six clubs today, and there were a few newsworthy items that came from that.
The first item is that the league will not play any games during the group stage of the Women's World Cup, a two-week stretch running from June 25 to July 4.
The second item is that Fox Soccer Channel will again be the league's national TV partner. The Independence will appear seven times, with four home games and three road games being televised on FSC.
And the final item is that we do not know where one of the other clubs in the league will play its games. The club now known as magicJack's Washington Freedom still has not determined how many matches it will play in the region from which it derives its name.
In its schedule release, WPS announced that the Freedom's home venue will be Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla. But the league also said that the club "might play one or two of its home games in the Washington, D.C. area."
Fans in both regions deserve better, but especially people in Washington, which has long been one of the most supportive markets for women's soccer in the country.
The Freedom are one of the only clubs with a real history in women's soccer, as they and the Boston Breakers carried the same name in WUSA and WPS. The Freedom also were able to keep their name alive as a minor-league club in the years between the two professional leagues.
Money talks, though, and in this case it does so over a computerized phone line. So we are stuck with this hybrid, which has caused so much confusion for fans, media, and even the league itself.
There is one piece of good news, though: the league has added a franchise in Rochester, N.Y., the home town of U.S. national team star Abby Wambach.
The Western New York Flash will play at the newly-named Sahlen's Stadium, which was one of the original soccer-specific stadiums when it opened in 2006. Originally known as PAETEC Park, then Rochester Rhinos Stadium, the venue has been home to the men's second-division Rochester Rhinos since it opened in 2006.
Western New York's roster is loaded with stars. Among the biggest names are U.S. national team midfielder Yael Averbuch, Sweden midfielder (and former Independence player) Caroline Seger, Canadian striker Christine Sinclair and Brazilian striker Marta.
Marta carries the league's highest salary. It may not be a coincidence that the two previous WPS clubs she played for, the Los Angeles Sol and FC Gold Pride, both went out of business. But the Flash have a strong sponsorship deal with Sahlen's Hot Dogs, so hopefully this new club will not suffer the same fate.
(If you have not heard of Sahlen's before, you will know about them soon. The company's hot dogs will be served at all six WPS venues this summer.)
Here is the Independence's schedule. The team will play its home games at Widener University, which should be more easily accessible for many fans in the region than West Chester. Directions to Widener's stadium are available here.
I will look into public transportation options when we get closer to the start of the season.
As was the case last year, the Independence will not play any home games at the same time as Union home games. Only once will the two clubs play at home on the same day, on April 16.
The Union's game against Seattle is at 4:00 p.m., and the Independence's home opener is at 7:00 p.m. You could make a doubleheader out of that pretty easily if you leave PPL Park right when the Union game ends.
Sunday, April 10: at Sky Blue FC, 6:00 PM (FSC)
Saturday, April 16: vs. Washington Freedom, 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 1: at Washington Freedom, 4:00 PM
Sunday, May 8: vs. Boston Breakers, 6:00 PM (FSC)
Sunday, May 15: at Atlanta Beat, 6:00 PM (FSC)
Sunday, May 22: at Boston Breakers, 4:00 PM
Sunday, May 29: vs. Western New York Flash, 6:00 PM (FSC)
Saturday, June 4: vs. Atlanta Beat, 7:00 PM
Sunday, June 12: at Western New York Flash, time TBA (FSC)
Saturday, June 18: vs. Washington Freedom, 7:00 PM
Wednesday, July 6: vs. Sky Blue FC, 7:00 PM
Saturday, July 9: vs. Western New York Flash, 7:00 PM
Saturday, July 16: at Atlanta Beat, 7:00 PM
Saturday, July 23: at Sky Blue FC, 7:00 p.m. 7:00 PM
Wednesday, July 27: at Boston Breakers, 7:00 PM
Sunday, July 31: vs. Atlanta Beat, 6:00 PM (FSC)
Sunday, August 7: vs. Sky Blue FC, 6:00 PM (FSC)
Sunday, August 14: at Washington Freedom, 4:00 PM
The WPS playoffs will take place over the last two weeks of August. The playoff format has not yet been determined, but it is known that the top four teams will qualify.