On Tuesday, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) released the home opener schedule for each team in the league. Sky Blue FC is the last team in the league to hold its home opener, playing two road matches before returning to Yurcak Field in Week Three.
Sky Blue will look to continue its undefeated-in-season-openers streak when it kicks off the new season by traveling to Memorial Stadium to take on the Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, April 15, the first day of the 2017 schedule. The away team will no doubt look to repeat last year’s performance when they handed the Reign their first ever loss at Memorial.
Despite a starting XI that included six players making their NWSL debuts, Sky Blue won 2-1 thanks to goals by Tasha Kai in her return to professional soccer and newcomer Kelly Conheeney. Rookie goalkeeper Caroline Casey shook of her pregame jitters to make seven saves to help Sky Blue earn three points.
In the second week of the season, Sky Blue travels to Jordan Field to take on the Boston Breakers on Sunday, April 23. The Breakers finished in last place last season, but Sky Blue still struggled against them when they played in Boston last July. In a league known for its parity, you can never count an opponent out.
That is especially true when head coach Matt Beard has been busy rebuilding the team to fit his vision and coaching style during the offseason, making trades and signing players to primarily strengthen the Breakers’ attack. Beard also used his six 2017 NWSL College Draft picks to bring the likes of college phenoms Rose Lavelle, Morgan Andrews and Margaret Purce to the Breakers, and managed to re-sign 2016’s top scorer Natasha Dowie for 2017. With Beard’s rebuilding of his side, they could be a much more dangerous opponent than in previous seasons.
Finally, on Sunday, April 30, Sky Blue FC will return to its home field in New Jersey, where they will host FC Kansas City. Last season Sky Blue dropped its home opener in a 2-1 loss to the Washington Spirit.
Sky Blue has actually not won a season opener since the NWSL’s inaugural season in 2013, the only year Sky Blue has advanced to the playoffs. However, Christy Holly, head coach of the New Jersey side, will try to channel the good fortune of 2013 (and maybe a little luck of the Irish) to see his team earn the first three points up for grabs at Yurcak Field in 2017.
Full Schedule of 2017 NWSL Home Openers
Houston Dash vs. Chicago Red Stars (BBVA Compass Stadium): Saturday, April 15
Portland Thorns FC vs. Orlando Pride (Providence Park)Saturday, April 15
Seattle Reign FC vs. Sky Blue FC (Memorial Stadium): Saturday, April 15
Washington Spirit vs. North Carolina Courage (Maryland Soccerplex): Saturday, April 15
FC Kansas City vs. Boston Breakers (Swope Soccer Village): Sunday, April 16
Chicago Red Stars vs. FC Kansas City (Toyotal Park): Saturday, April 22
North Carolina Courage vs. Portland Thorns FC (WakeMed Soccer Park): Saturday, April 22
Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit (Orlando City Stadium): Saturday, April 22
Boston Breakers vs. Sky Blue FC (Jordan Field): Sunday, April 23
Sky Blue FC vs. FC Kansas City (Yurcak Field): Sunday, April 30