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Women's Professional Soccer Set For 18-Match Season, Brief World Cup Break, Same Playoff Format

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Women's Professional Soccer Set For 18-Match Season, Brief World Cup Break, Same Playoff Format

Good news, Women's Professional Soccer fans. The calendar parameters for the 2011 season were released today. Eighteen game schedule. Two week break for World Cup (group stage). Championship weekend of August 27-28. The season is starting to come into view.

But there's bad news. At least, there's news about which fans will have disagreements. No All-Star game this year, and the controversial playoff format will be retained.

Per a release from the WPS league office on Wednesday, the third season of Women's Professional Soccer will feature an 18-game schedule, with league consultant Robert Penner confirming the league's seven teams will play each other between three and four times. Preseason will start in early March, extend until the opening weekend of April 9-10, with the regular season extending until August. Then, the league's playoffs, for which four teams will qualify, will play out.

That playoff format, much discussed since the league's onset, will feature out teams in three level of knock-out stages. In the first round, the regular season's fourth place finisher will travel to the league's third place team. The winner will subsequently play at the season's runners-up, with the regular season champions given a bye to the WPS Championship on the weekend of August 27-28.

Last year, Bay Area-based team FC Gold Pride defeated expansion side Philadelphia Independence to win the league title. The previous season, New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC beat the Los Angeles Sol to win the inaugural championship.

Women's Professional Soccer also announced it would take a two week break coinciding with group play of the 2011 World Cup. That policy mimics that of Major League Soccer's during the 2010 World Cup, when the league resumed play once the World Cup's knockout phase began. Because of the break, the league will not schedule an All-Star game, a fixture in the league's first two seasons.

WPS will begin it's third season with seven teams: Atlanta Beat, Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Philadelphia Independence, Sky Blue FC, Washington Freedom, and Western New York Flash.

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