2023 NWSL Schedule: Biggest Games, Challenge Cup Dates; Shipment details still TBA
Just 44 days before the first game of the season, the NWSL released their 2023 game schedule. Here’s what you need to know:
- The season starts on March 25th. The North Carolina Courage will host the Kansas City Current and the San Diego Wave will host the Chicago Red Stars on opening day.
- The Kansas City Current meets defending champion Portland Thorns on April 1 in a replay of the 2022 NWSL title game.
- Broadcast details for the season are yet to be announced.
It’s a new season!
Let’s gooooooo 🏆
— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) February 8, 2023
the athlete‘s instant analysis:
What was the raid?
There are many moving parts to creating a schedule, and the NWSL has its own complicating factors, primarily because most teams don’t control their venue. These teams are second tenants and often work alongside MLS teams. That means MLS must first create their schedule (MLS 2023 regular season schedule was released on December 20, 2022) and then the NWSL teams must work around those dates. A source with knowledge of the planning process also said most MLS teams prefer to black out between 24 and 72 hours before their games to manage pitch wear.
There are also other factors such as competitive balance to ensure teams aren’t hit by too much back-to-back travel dates and broadcast requirements.
How the NWSL schedule is made, reasons behind the 2021 delay
That didn’t stop players from publicly voicing their frustration at the delay. Bethany Balcer and Megan Rapinoe both took to social media to criticize the delay in releasing the schedule.
My family tries to plan when she’s coming out, and they can’t do that without a ~SCHEDULE~
— Bethany Balcer (@bethanybalcer) February 2, 2023
No shipment details yet
We don’t yet know which games will get the “big CBS” treatment, which will be featured on CBS Sports Network, and which will only stream on Paramount+. We don’t have a broadcast team yet either; Chances are some new names will be added as other broadcasters have recruited talent, with Apple TV hiring Lori Lindsey and others for the MLS Season Pass. That doesn’t necessarily preclude these new hires from working on NWSL games, but it does provide incentive for CBS to expand its talent roster.
How does the Challenge Cup fit in there?
One positive aspect of the schedule is that regular season games have been moved to weekends and midweek games are mostly Challenge Cup games, with the Challenge Cup running from April 19th to August 6th. Weekend Challenge Cup games are scheduled for the Worlds window in July and August. Hopefully this cadence will allow teams to plan for roster rotations based on how much importance they place on the Challenge Cup and various bank depths. It could be a good opportunity for teams to work on player development and give more players meaningful game time.
The biggest games to watch
Whether it’s for the expected great atmosphere, intriguing tactical matchups, or just pure grudge matches, here are just a handful of the marquee games that immediately catch the eye:
- April 1: Kansas City Current vs. Portland Thorns
- April 19: San Diego Wave vs. Portland Thorns (Challenge Cup)
- May 28: Washington Spirit vs. Gotham FC
- June 10: OL Reign vs. Kansas City Current
- June 28: Angel City vs. San Diego Wave (Challenge Cup)
- August 27: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns
(Photo by Thorns forward Sophia Smith: Jessica Rapfogel / USA Today)
https://theathletic.com/4160551/2023/02/08/nwsl-schedule-release-challenge-cup-season-opener/ 2023 NWSL Schedule: Biggest Games, Challenge Cup Dates; Shipment details still TBA