The National Women’s Soccer League announced its schedule footprint for the 2024 season, confirming changes to the Challenge Cup and an Olympic break, and the league’s latest Championship in history.
Expansion to 14 teams in 2024 means the NWSL will play 190 matches, which includes the playoffs and a new NWSL Challenge Cup format. The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf broke the news about the new Challenge Cup format — and the break for Olympic play with possible international friendlies — back in August, stating that the Challenge Cup will be a one-off match at the beginning of the season, featuring the 2023 NWSL Supporters Shield winner and the 2023 NWSL Championship winner.
If the Supporters Shield winner and NWSL champion are the same team, the league announced that the Challenge Cup would be rematch of the previous year’s NWSL Championship. However, that’s not the case for the 2024 match.
Gotham FC, league champion in 2023, and San Diego, the Supporters Shield winners, will face off on Friday, March 15. The location is yet to be announced, but coverage will be on Prime Video, as part of the league’s new media rights deal.
As for the NWSL regular season, the league will allow preseason training to start Jan. 22, but no later than Jan. 29, per the CBA. The regular season will kick off on March 16, a day after the Challenge Cup. The league’s full schedule will be released at a later date.
The regular season will feature 182 matches and will span over 25 weeks. According to the league, the “schedule has been formatted to avoid staging NWSL matches during FIFA windows and maintain flexibility for the league’s top players as they compete with both club and country.”
Each team, during the regular season, will play an even 13 matches at home, 13 matches on the road. There will be 14 teams in the NWSL, with the inclusion of the Utah Royals and Bay FC.
The NWSL CBA mandates a mandatory league break from July 8 to 14, and the league will take a break from regular-season play from July 15 to August 18, for the 2024 Paris Olympics. However, there will be non-regular season contests played, in the form of a new tournament, the league announced, that will “feature international participants and all 14 NWSL clubs, beginning the weekend of July 19-21.”
Further details about this new format will be announced later, the league stated.
“The 2024 season marks the start of an exciting new chapter for the NWSL and one that will set the tone for the future of our sport in the U.S. and globally,” NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said.
“Women’s soccer shined on an international stage in 2023 and as attendance, viewership and investment figures continue to explode, our league has never been better positioned to capitalize on the momentum the game is experiencing. Underscored by the addition of our 13th and 14th franchises, an enhanced match calendar and, critically, groundbreaking media rights agreements that will ensure our games are readily accessible to more fans than ever before, the 2024 campaign represents a new era for the NWSL as we continue our efforts to deliver the best product in professional soccer.”
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