NWSL retains Challenge Cup competition as opener for 2021 regular season

November 19 – The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the US is to continue with its Challenge Cup format introduced for the first time as a back-to-play tournament in 2020, the first of the US leagues to return to competition during the pandemic. The full season schedule will be begin a month later.

Clubs will return to training February 1 with the Challenge Cup starting in mid-April. The NWSL said the competition “will take place in multiple bubble environments, team markets, or some combination of the two.”

The NWSL’s 2021 regular season will kick off in mid-May, with each team in the nine-team league playing 24 matches. The full schedule will be released at a later date.

“Bringing back the Challenge Cup is an opportunity for our league to continue growing our fan base and showcase our world class players with an exciting and competitive tournament ahead of the most important international tournament on the 2021 calendar, the Olympic Games,” said NWSL Chief Revenue Officer Mitch Poll.

“We’re focused on continuing to build opportunities to expand our reach, expose a global audience to the best women’s club soccer in the world, and provide meaningful opportunities for our teams and players to perform.”

Once the league season completes, six teams will qualify for an expanded NWSL playoffs beginning in November 2021, with the top two seeds receiving a first-round bye. The NWSL Championship final will be played the weekend of November 20

“2021 is shaping up to be another big year for the NWSL as we continue to innovate our product, engage our incredible fans and support our players and teams,” said NWSL Director of Operations and Player Affairs Liz Dalton.

“Building on what we were able to safely accomplish in 2020, we’re expanding the opportunities for our athletes and teams to thrive, and for our sponsors and partners to invest in our continued growth.”

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