After the overwhelming success of the NWSL Challenge Cup, with the final getting 653,000 viewers, an NWSL record, the National Women’s Soccer League has announced they will start a fall season.
The season will start on September 5th and run until October 17th. The television agreement with CBS is still in place. As, the NWSL announced, games will be streamed on CBS All Access, with games of the week being broadcast every Saturday in September on CBS. While, CBS Sports Network will broadcast games in October.
The schedule of games will be 18 games in seven weeks, with each team being in three team pods, that are centrally located to minimize travel. While, we do not know the schedule and format yet, we know the teams in each pod. The pods are broken down by location with the three pods being, West, Northeast and South. The three teams in the Western pod are, OL Reign, the Portland Thorns FC and the Utah Royals FC. While, the Northeast pod are the Chicago Red Stars, Sky Blue FC and the Washington Spirit. Lastly, the Southern pod includes, the North Carolina Courage, the Orlando Pride and the 2020 Challenge Cup Champion, Houston Dash.
Teams will resume in their home markets, which means that teams like the Portland Thorns, Sky Blue and Orlando Pride will be sharing their home facilities with the respective MLS teams in the area. In the case of Sky Blue they will be sharing Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey with both NYCFC and the New York Red Bulls as NYCFC is not playing at Yankee Stadium this season.
In speaking to NWSLsoccer.com, commissioner Lisa Baird said, “The women of the NWSL want to compete and we’ve certainly heard from our fans all over the world looking for more action this year.”
It is unclear whether some of the US Women’s National team stars that chose to skip out of the Challenge Cup, will be participating in this fall season, such as Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe. The Washington Spirit however will be without midfielder Rose Lavelle after her transfer to Man City’s Women’s team. The NC Courage will also be without USWNT veteran, Sam Mewis after her transfer to Man City’s Women’s team.
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