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USWNT players will probably miss at least half of 2019 NWSL season

The NWSL has released the key dates of their 2019 schedule and it’s another jam-packed World Cup year.

The National Women’s Soccer League has released key dates for their 2019 schedule. You can see how 2019 will play out schedule-wise, with World Cup and FIFA dates added.

Preseason begins: March 4
FIFA window: April 1 - April 9
Regular season begins: April 13-14
Teams must release NT players for WWC: May 24
World Cup break: June 3 - June 14
Women’s World Cup: June 7 - July 7
FIFA window: August 26 - September 3
FIFA window: September 30 - October 8
Regular season ends: October 12-13
Playoffs: October 19-20
Championship: October 26

Depending on how many friendlies the USWNT plays before and after the World Cup, you can see this schedule doesn’t leave a lot of room for them to join their clubs. NWSL teams will once again have a 24-game season, 12 home and 12 away. Not taking into account travel and rest, WNT players will be available to their clubs for about a month in the beginning of the season, six weeks after the World Cup, and about a month and change at the end of the season. But travel and rest certainly will impact player availability, and USSF is just as certain to take advantage of every possible FIFA window, not to mention the possibility of a victory tour should the USWNT win the World Cup.

It is, of course, vital for a growing league like NWSL to be able to build off of the excitement of the World Cup by advertising the presence of big international names, not just American players. At the same time, USSF has every right to try to capitalize on the popularity and success of the WNT as much as possible, although you would hope they’re factoring their own stake in the success of NWSL into these decisions. And perhaps it’s a case of what is good for the goose, as a wildly popular USWNT is a nice marketing tool for NWSL, as cold a comfort as that is to teams actually playing for a club championship. Hopefully the league will be able to find some synergy with US Soccer in a way that doesn’t run the players ragged, but odds are the USWNT will be called away for sendoff games and (fingers crossed) celebration matches in addition to the tournament itself, so don’t expect to be able to see them for more than half of their club games, if that.