The National Women’s Soccer League released its 2023 regular season and 2023 Challenge Cup schedules. New for 2023 is the Challenge Cup running concurrently, somewhat, with the regular season.
The NWSL has also, finally, given us a true Decision Day, with all teams in action at the same time on the final day of the regular season. Now all that’s missing is a whip-around show to bring it all together.
The opening weekend of March 25–26 sees all teams in action, and includes home openers for Angel City FC, Portland Thorns FC, and San Diego Wave FC, all teams that consistently draw large home crowds.
Such is the talent level in the NWSL that the entire league is a tasty matchup with every team capable of beating one another — making a proper Decision Day so enticing. Still, the April 1 rematch of the 2022 NWSL Championship match between the Kansas City Current and the Portland Thorns is circle-the-date viewing. The Current host the Thorns and feature a reloaded roster that includes Debinha, Morgan Gautrat, Vanessa DiBernardo, No. 2 overall draft pick Michelle Cooper, and international Hanna Glas.
(Speaking of Debinha, she returns to North Carolina to face her former team on opening weekend.)
Challenge Cup vs. World Cup
Progress, kind of. Running the Challenge Cup concurrently with the regular season was always the better option. Players get a proper preseason and coaches can give bench players some meaningful minutes they may not otherwise get.
Three groups of four teams will play double round-robin matches sprinkled throughout the season. The first set of matches begin in April, followed by second and third rounds in May and June, respectively.
The league isn’t taking an official break for the 2023 World Cup, which runs from July 20 through August 20; rather, 16 Challenge Cup games fill that spot, starting on July 21 and running through August 6. Nonplaying weekends bookend the stretch of games, ostensibly to give players rest.
Semifinal matches will be played on Wednesday, September 6, and the final on Saturday, September 9.
The top six teams qualify for the NWSL playoffs, which begin on October 22. Similar to past years, the top two regular-season seeds receive first-round byes. Semifinals will be on November 4, and the Championship set for November 11.
Winner of the Day
The Chicago Red Stars did this:
The wait is finally over! Hope you’re as obsessed with our 2023 season schedule as we are with @Netflix Wednesday Addams 🎥
The schedule is below with Challenge Cup games noted in bold. All times eastern. The league will release broadcast information at a later date but expect all matches to be spread across CBS platforms, including CBS, CBS Sports Network, and Paramount+ for domestic viewers. More info to come for international viewers, but let’s hope the league won’t give international viewers the short shrift — a grave mistake.