BY IAN WALKER, VANCOUVER SUN
Fewer extended road trips and home dates to open and close the season highlight the Vancouver Whitecaps' 2009 schedule.
The defending champions will kick off the United Soccer Leagues First Division season against the Charleston Battery on April 11 at Swangard Stadium.
Vancouver will play each of the league's other 10 teams three times over the course of the regular season, which concludes Sept. 20. Unlike last season, the team has no road trips longer than five days and will play no more than two games on the road on any given trip.
"The first thought is it looks a little easier than last year," said Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson. "We had some very tough road trips last year."
The Whitecaps will play 13 of their 15 home games on the weekend. Vancouver will also be featured in five Fox Sports World Canada broadcasts, up from three last season. Three of the televised games will be from the road.
Vancouver closes out its 30-game schedule with a pair of home dates, including the regular-season finale against the Cleveland City Stars on Sept. 18.
Expansion franchise Austin Aztex and Cleveland, promoted from USL-2, are both new to the 11-team loop. The Seattle Sounders (Major League Soccer expansion) and the Atlanta Silverbacks will not return in 2009.
The 2009 Nutrilite Canadian Championship schedule is expected to be announced next month.
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