The 2020 NWSL schedule was, at long last, released today, revealing the path the Washington Spirit hope will lead them to a return to the playoffs after a three-year absence. The Spirit’s unconventional home schedule, which includes games at Audi Field, the Maryland SoccerPlex, and Segra Field, begins with a season opener on April 18 against OL Reign FC. That game, which will also serve as the league’s first game of the year, will be played at Audi Field, with kickoff set for 1:00pm.
The Spirit will only have to deal with three mid-week games, with two of those at the Plex. Barring a top two finish resulting in Washington hosting a playoff game — plans for what the team would do in that scenario have not been announced — a September 9 clash with the Orlando Pride will likely be the club’s last-ever NWSL game at their long-time home.
Of the rest of the schedule, the Spirit have 17 games on Saturday, including nine of their home games, with two each on Friday and Sunday completing the set. Per a team release, the Spirit will announce a theme night schedule (including a Pride Night) sometime next month.
Fans specifically looking to attend games at Audi Field will, along with the Reign, get to see the Portland Thorns, Sky Blue FC, and the Chicago Red Stars. Out in Leesburg, Segra Field will host visits from Orlando, Sky Blue, the North Carolina Courage, and Portland. The final four visitors to the Plex will be Utah Royals FC, Chicago, the Houston Dash, and Orlando.
The schedule gives the Spirit a chance to get off to a quick start, much like last season. Three of their first four games are at home, with Utah and Chicago visiting the Plex in May, and the only away game in that stretch is a short drive up 95 to face Sky Blue at Red Bull Arena. Washington will only have to leave the Eastern time zone twice in their first twelve games.
However, the last quarter of Washington’s season looks daunting: following their Plex farewell, they’ll face Portland on short rest at Audi Field, then consecutive away games against Utah (at altitude) and Portland (against the loudest fanbase in women’s soccer). October 10th’s game on Buzzard Point against the Red Stars may function as a quasi-playoff game, while the regular season finale eight days later is the longest road trip of the year, as they’ll head to Tacoma to face the Reign.
Preseason officially begins on March 9, though most Spirit players have already moved to the area to start settling in ahead of time. The preseason schedule includes three games at the Plex.
The full schedule is as follows:
2020 Washington Spirit schedule
|1||Saturday||April 18||Home (Audi Field)||OL Reign FC||1:00 PM|
|2||Saturday||May 2||Home (Maryland SoccerPlex)||Utah Royals FC||7:00 PM|
|3||Saturday||May 9||Away||Sky Blue FC||4:00 PM|
|4||Wednesday||May 13||Home (Maryland SoccerPlex)||Chicago Red Stars||7:30 PM|
|5||Saturday||May 16||Away||North Carolina Courage||7:00 PM|
|6||Saturday||May 23||Away||OL Reign FC||7:00 PM|
|7||Saturday||May 30||Home (Segra Field)||Orlando Pride||7:00 PM|
|8||Saturday||June 13||Away||North Carolina Courage||7:00 PM|
|9||Wednesday||June 17||Away||Houston Dash||8:30 PM|
|10||Saturday||June 20||Home (Audi Field)||Portland Thorns FC||7:00 PM|
|11||Saturday||June 26||Away||Orlando Pride||7:00 PM|
|12||Saturday||July 3||Home (Segra Field)||Sky Blue FC||7:30 PM|
|13||Saturday||July 18||Away||Utah Royals FC||9:30 PM|
|14||Saturday||August 1||Home (Maryland SoccerPlex)||Houston Dash||7:00 PM|
|15||Saturday||August 8||Home (Segra Field)||North Carolina Courage||7:00 PM|
|16||Saturday||August 15||Away||Chicago Red Stars||8:00 PM|
|17||Sunday||August 30||Home (Audi Field)||Sky Blue FC||5:00 PM|
|18||Friday||September 4||Away||Houston Dash||8:30 PM|
|19||Wednesday||September 9||Home (Maryland SoccerPlex)||Orlando Pride||7:30 PM|
|20||Saturday||September 12||Home (Segra Field)||Portland Thorns FC||7:00 PM|
|21||Friday||September 25||Away||Utah Royals FC||9:30 PM|
|22||Saturday||October 3||Away||Portland Thorns FC||10:30 PM|
|23||Saturday||October 10||Home (Audi Field)||Chicago Red Stars||7:00 PM|
|24||Sunday||October 18||Away||OL Reign FC||3:30 PM|