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FC Edmonton releases 2017 schedule, team to kick off its season April 2

Vancouver Whitecaps' Russell Teibert (31) watches the ball go past Edmonton FC goalkeeper Matt VanOekel (1) as Ritchie Jones (8) and Lance Laing (17) look on during first half action of the Amway Canadian Championship semi-final in Edmonton, Alta., on Wednesday May 20, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

A slimmed-down North American Soccer League will kick off its spring season on March 25 while FC Edmonton will open April 2 on the road against Jacksonville Armada FC.

The eight-team league’s split-season schedule will feature 16-game spring and 16-game fall calendars. Within each season, every club will play the other seven opponents home and away, plus two additional matchups.

READ MORE: FC Edmonton midfielder drafted by Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact

The other teams are the newly formed San Francisco Deltas, the defending champion New York Cosmos, Indy Eleven, Miami FC, North Carolina FC and Puerto Rico FC.

Edmonton will host Jacksonville on April 8 in its home opener at Clarke Stadium where the bulk of its home games will be Friday or Saturday this season.

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The Tampa Bay Rowdies and Ottawa Fury FC have left the league to join the USL, another Tier 2 league. Minnesota United is now part of MLS.

Rayo OKC and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers dropped out of the league.

The Cosmos will open their title defence March 25 at Puerto Rico FC. North Carolina FC will host Miami FC and San Francisco will entertain Indy Eleven that same day.

The Spring and Fall Season champions advance to the league’s four-team post-season tournament, along with the two clubs that collect the most combined points over the course of the overall 32-game competition.

READ MORE: FC Edmonton edge their way into playoffs for first time since 2011

Edmonton lost 1-0 to Indy Eleven in last season’s semifinals.