Vancouver Whitecaps FC, in conjunction with the United Soccer Leagues (USL), announce the details for the 2009 USL First Division season.
In addition to the regular season schedule, the league unveiled the alignment, playoff details, and the Fox Sports World Canada (Fox Soccer Channel in the United States) schedule, which will conclude with a championship series in October.
The 2008 USL First Division champions, who are celebrating 35 years since their first season in the North American Soccer League (1974), will kick off their title defence at Swangard Stadium against Charleston Battery on Saturday, April 11. Once again, each club in the single-table USL-1 will play a 30-match regular season schedule, with each team playing each other three times.
New sides to the 11-team USL First Division include newly-promoted Cleveland City Stars from the USL Second Division, as well as expansion outfit Austin Aztex. The Seattle Sounders (Major League Soccer expansion) and the Atlanta Silverbacks will not return in 2009.
Swangard will host six matches on Saturday, four Sunday tilts - including two 4 p.m. starts, three games on Friday and two midweek matches. The ‘Caps will also be featured in five Fox Sports World Canada broadcasts, including their final regular season match at home to Cleveland on September 18.
Similar to last year, the top seven teams will advance to the playoffs, with the regular season champion (Commissioner’s Cup winner) automatically receiving the top seed in the semifinals. The remaining six teams will play in a two-leg aggregate score series in the first round. The three winners will advance to the two-leg aggregate score semifinal series, with the top seed pitted against the lowest remaining seed. Unlike previous years, the final will also be expanded to a two-leg, aggregate score series format.
The 2009 Nutrilite Canadian Championship schedule will be announced next month.
Whitecaps 2009 season tickets are now on sale. Season tickets include all men’s and women's team regular season and playoff home matches at Swangard Stadium, Nutrilite Canadian Championship home matches against Toronto FC and Montreal Impact, as well as priority listing for BC Place and the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. For more information on the 2009 season ticket packages, call 604.669.WAVE (9283) or CLICK HERE.