The National Women’s Soccer League announced today that they will return to play beginning June 27th. There are plenty of things to parse from this announcement so let’s start with the basics and work from there. NWSL Returns June 27th
The National Women’s Soccer League announced today that the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup presented by P&G and Secret will mark the return to action for all nine clubs. The 25-game tournament will kick off on June 27, 2020 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. While spectators will not be in attendance, fans can catch all the action via CBS All Access with the opener and championship game also airing live on CBS.
This tournament marks the league’s first competition since the 2019 NWSL Championship which saw the North Carolina Courage defeat the Chicago Red Stars to become back-to-back NWSL Champions. In addition to the tournament’s presenting sponsors P&G and Secret, the league also announced today a new multi-year partnership with Verizon, another landmark in the continuing commercial success of the NWSL.
The format of the tournament will feature the league’s nine clubs each playing four games in the preliminary rounds to determine seeding. The top eight teams will advance to the quarterfinals, when the tournament becomes a knockout competition. The semifinals and Final presented by Budweiser will be played at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, with the Championship match slated for July 26, 2020 where we will also announce the tournament MVP Award presented by Budweiser. Budweiser has been an Official Sponsor of the NWSL since 2019 and supporter of the U.S. women’s national team for over three decades.
Both the tournament opener and the Final will air on CBS and will be streamed on the CBS All Access subscription service. All other games will be live on CBS All Access in the U.S. and Canada and will re-air on CBS Sports Network. CBS All Access is a streaming service that offers a free one week trial and is available for $6/month, meaning you could watch all the games for $6. I’ll be watching the games (replays it seems) on CBS Sports Network via my Sports Package on DirecTV (Channel 221)
Opener: June 27, live on CBS
Championship: July 26, live on CBS
Full schedule to be announced at a later date
Uncertain but most of the discussion I have seen indicates this may be the sum total of the season for the NWSL
Everyone is treating post-Challenge Cup as unknown, but general vibe is it seems deeply unlikely anything happens after. But not ruled out, either. https://t.co/MW718wQEl6
— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) May 27, 2020
There was discussion online that the USWNT players would make a decision as a group regarding participation. Here’s the latest – Each WNT Player may choose for herself whether to participate in the NWSL 2020 Challenge Cup, and the USWNTPA and the USSF will provide support to each Player in whatever decision she makes. Becky hasn’t posted any indication of her plans on Twitter. I’ll update this as I see more.
Statement from @USWNTPlayers:
"Each WNT Player may choose for herself whether to participate in the NWSL 2020 Challenge Cup, and the USWNTPA and the USSF will provide support to each Player in whatever decision she makes." #USWNT #NWSL pic.twitter.com/oh1uzdAINN
— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) May 27, 2020
The Players Association worked with the NWSL and looks to have done a fantastic job for their players (the power of collective action) obtaining guaranteed contracts, insurance for the calendar year, childcare as well as tournament procedures participation. An UPDATE in the tweet below notes that rosters are due June 21st so we’ll know for certain then who will be playing
Lisa Baird says rosters for the NWSL Challenge Cup are due June 21, first day teams can arrive in Utah. That's when league will know for sure which #USWNT players will or won't play in tournament.
— Paul Kennedy (@pkedit) May 27, 2020
— NWSLPA (@nwsl_players) May 27, 2020
For now, there is no indication that fans will be allowed at the games. Alex Vejar of the Salt Lake Tribune offered an early announcement of the tournament and included this note in his report
Whether spectators will be allowed is still to be determined. The hope is a small, possibly previously selected group of fans can attend to start, with numbers growing as restrictions in the state continue to lift. Most of Utah is currently under “yellow” risk level, but certain cities, like Salt Lake, are still in “orange.”
For those interested in more details or regular updates, consider following @ItsMegLinehan the National #USWNT/#NWSL staff writer at The Athletic, @EqualizerSoccer who describe themselves as The No. 1 source for women’s soccer in North America since 2009. It’s justified. Both are subscription sites that would benefit from your support. I was also pointed to a local site recently that may interest you @NWSL2STL that offers a low volume of tweets focused on NWSL and the USWNT it appears.
NWSL Returns June 27th
#NWSL 2020 Challenge Cup Broadcast Breakdown:
— NWSL (@NWSL) May 29, 2020