The Madison 56ers will open their 11th season in the National Premier Soccer League with two games in Minnesota before kicking off their home schedule May 29 against Minnesota United FC Reserves on the new turf at Breese Stevens Field.
The 56ers' 12-game schedule in the restructured Midwest Region includes three matches apiece against Minnesota United FC Reserves, the second team for the North American Soccer League club, and the Minnesota Twin Stars.
Madison will start league play May 16 against the the Twin Stars in Minnetrista, just west of Minneapolis – it's a matchup between the only teams to play in the Midwest Region every year since its inception in 2005. Eight days later, the 56ers will travel up I-94 again to face Minnesota United FC Reserves in Woodbury.
The 56ers will face five teams for the first time in 2015, with three of those sides making the trip to Madison: Defending Midwest champion Lansing United (June 17), Michigan Stars FC (June 21) and the Cincinnati Saints (July 12).
Meanwhile, Madison and Detroit City FC will meet for the first time on June 6 in the Motor City – the team, nicknamed Le Rouge, is known for its raucous crowds and had an average attendance of 2,857 in 2014.
The 56ers also will play the Indiana Fire for the first time on June 27 in Westfield, Ind. A day later, Madison will renew its series against FC Indiana, which previously played in the NPSL in 2007 and '09 – the 56ers have won all five matches between the teams.
Breese Stevens Field, which had its crown removed and artificial turf installed last summer, will play host to Madison's final three games: July 10 against Minnesota United FC Reserves, July 12 against Cincinnati and July 18 against the Twin Stars.
The 56ers' home matches have earlier start times than in past seasons, with only one 7 p.m. kickoff scheduled. General manager Cristian Brei said single-game ticket prices will remain the same as last season – $8 per game, with kids 14 and under admitted free. A season ticket costs $40 and the team will play at least six home games, so purchasers will pay less than $7 per game.
Madison went 4-3-3 in league play and finished third in the six-team Central Conference last year; however, the two-time reigning Central champion Quad City Eagles are not returning this season, nor are Aris FC and FC Bordo St. Louis.
The remaining 12 Midwest Region teams and FC Indiana formed a 13-team region that will compete in a single table, with the top four teams qualifying for the playoffs. Teams were split into geographic groupings for scheduling purposes.
The 56ers also are scheduled to play host to a team from Dutch club v.v. DOVO in a friendly on April 29, but Brei said that match likely will be canceled and he's looking into other possible opponents for a friendly.