2020 NWSL Challenge Cup Schedule, Preview, TV Info And Streaming Options
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Professional team sports return to America beginning Saturday, June 27 with the start of the NWSL’s Challenge Cup in Herriman, Utah. The NWSL Challenge Cup schedule was unveiled Monday, and the tournament will feature 25 extremely meaningful matches over the course of a month.
Things begin with an 18-game preliminary round that takes place between June 27 and July 13. Each of the league’s nine teams will play four games and those results will be used to determine the seedings in the quarterfinal knockout round with the last-place squad being eliminated.
From the quarterfinals on, it’s single-elimination. The preliminary round and quarterfinal matches will all be played at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah (home of the Utah Royals), but the semifinals and final will be staged at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah (home of Real Salt Lake).
No fans will be in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the opening match between North Carolina and Portland and the championship game will both be broadcast on CBS. All the other games will be available on the CBS All Access streaming channel. For fans outside the U.S. and Canada, all the matches will be broadcast on Twitch.
2020 NWSL Challenge Cup Schedule
Saturday, June 27
1. Chicago Red Stars vs. 9. Orlando Pride
5. North Carolina Courage vs. 7. Portland Thorns FC
Tuesday, June 30
2. Washington Spirit vs. 4. Utah Royals FC
8. OL Reign vs. 6. Sky Blue FC
Wednesday, July 1
7. Portland Thorns FC vs. 9. Orlando Pride
5. North Carolina Courage vs. 3. Houston Dash
Saturday, July 4
1. Chicago Red Stars vs. 4. Utah Royals FC
2. Washington Spirit vs. 8. OL Reign
Sunday, July 5
5. North Carolina Courage vs. 9. Orlando Pride
3. Houston Dash vs. 6. Sky Blue FC
Wednesday, July 8
2. Washington Spirit vs. 7. Portland Thorns FC
4. Utah Royals FC vs. 8. OL Reign
Thursday, July 9
9. Orlando Pride vs. 6. Sky Blue FC
1. Chicago Red Stars vs. 3. Houston Dash
Sunday, July 12
4. Utah Royals FC vs. 5. North Carolina Courage
7. Portland Thorns FC vs. 8. OL Reign
Monday, July 13
1. Chicago Red Stars vs. 6. Sky Blue FC
2. Washington Spirit vs. 3. Houston Dash
2020 NWSL Challenge Cup Preview
Team 1: Chicago Red Stars
2019: Finished second behind North Carolina during the regular season and then fell to the Courage in the final, 4-0.
Outlook: This team is stacked with Alyssa Naeher, Julie Ertz, Morgan Brian, Tierna Davidson, Casey Short and Yūki Nagasato on the books, but the loss of Sam Kerr — who set an NWSL record last season with 18 goals — to Chelsea is going to be hard to overcome.
Team 2: Washington Spirit
2019: Finished fifth and missed out on the playoffs.
Outlook: Andi Sullivan and Rose Lavelle are two major USWNT names in the midfield, while Aubrey Bledsoe was the 2019 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year and Japanese international Kumi Yokohama is a big addition to the attack.
Team 3: Houston Dash
2019: Finished seventh and missed out on the playoffs.
Outlook: Team Canada with Allysha Chapman, Nichelle Prince and Sophie Schmidt, and there’s also England international Rachel Daly. The big American stars include goalkeeper Jane Campbell and midfielder Kristie Mewis.
Team 4: Utah Royals FC
2019: Finished sixth and missed out on the playoffs.
Outlook: Captained by the legendary Amy Rodriguez, Utah also boasts the USWNT trio of Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press and Becky Sauerbrunn. There’s also long-serving Canadian national team members Diana Matheson and Desiree Scott, Spanish legend Veró Boquete and Scottish international Rachel Corsie.
Team 5: North Carolina Courage
2019: Won the regular season NWSL Shield for the third straight year and a second consecutive NWSL Championship.
Outlook: The American contingent of Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald needs no introduction, and they’re perfectly complemented by Brazilian star Debinha and New Zealand captain Abby Erceg.
Team 6: Sky Blue FC
2019: Finished eighth and missed out on the playoffs.
Outlook: 2019 marked a sixth straight season outside the playoffs, and the team will look to Carli Lloyd, Mallory Pugh, Canadian keeper Kailen Sheridan and Japanese veteran Naomi Kawasumi to rectify that.
Team 7: Portland Thorns FC
2019: Finished third and lost to Chicago in the playoff semifinals, 1-0.
Outlook: A strong USWNT contingent here with Lindsey Horan, Tobin Heath, Becky Sauerbrunn and Adrianna Franch leading the charge while being joined by top overall pick Sophia Smith. There’s also the legendary Christine Sinclair (soccer’s all-time leading international goalscorer) and Costa Rica’s Raquel Rodríguez.
Team 8: OL Reign
2019: Finished fourth and lost to North Carolina in the playoff semifinals, 4-1.
Outlook: Allie Long and co-captains Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Barnes are the big U.S. names (although Rapinoe might miss this one), but this is a cosmopolitan squad with Rebecca Quinn (Canada), Jodie Taylor (England), Jess Fishlock (Wales), Celia Jiménez (Spain) and Yuka Momiki (Japan) all playing vital roles.
Team 9: Orlando Pride
2019: Finished in last place.
Outlook: Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, Marta, Emily Sonett, Sydney Leroux and Shelina Zadorsky are the players charged with rectifying last season’s abysmal showing. Alex Morgan (who had her baby on May 7) won’t be around for this one.