NWSL Challenge Cup to begin on April 9 with rematch of 2020 final
CHICAGO – The 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup will begin on April 9 at 8:30 p.m. EST with a rematch of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup final between Houston and Chicago at BBVA Stadium.
The 21-game tournament will be played in group play with each team playing four matches followed by the final.
The opener and three additional games will air on CBS Sports Network, the final will air on the CBS Television Network and stream on Paramount+, the newly launched premium streaming service from ViacomCBS, and every other game will stream exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. All games will be available internationally on Twitch, including in Canada for all games that are not on CBS Sports Network. The full 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup schedule and broadcast details will be announced Tuesday, March 9, 2021.
“We’re ready to build on our success of the last year and I couldn’t be more excited to open the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup presented by Secret the same way we left off in the summer of 2020, watching Houston and Chicago showcase the very best in women’s professional soccer,” said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird. “I want to thank Secret for once again helping us put on this incredible event, and for their continued commitment to the NWSL and our players, including the NWSL’s 2021 rookie class.”
This year’s tournament will see the league’s 10 teams organized into two divisions, East and West. The East is comprised of Racing Louisville FC, North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride, Sky Blue FC and the Washington Spirit. The West includes the Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, Kansas City, OL Reign and Portland Thorns FC.
Each team will play four matches in home markets, as approved by the NWSL’s Medical Task Force, followed by the top team from each division competing in the final slated for May 8, 2021. The championship site will be determined by the league at a later date. For a list of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup rules and regulations that differ from NWSL’s regular season policies and procedures, click here.
As part of a continued partnership between Secret Deodorant (presenting sponsor of the NWSL Challenge Cup) and the league, the NWSL has announced the creation of the NWSL Rookie Class program. Through this program, there will be sponsorship opportunities for NWSL rookies competing in the tournament. By creating this program, Secret and NWSL hope to continue to build media equity for women in sports.
“As a women’s brand, we are especially proud to systemically address the lack of representation and sponsorship in women’s sports through our NWSL partnership,” said Sara Saunders, Senior Brand Director, Secret & Gillette. “By supporting the Rookie program this year, we will strengthen the development pipeline for women’s professional soccer.”
Following the Challenge Cup, the NWSL’s 10 teams will face off in a 24-game regular season beginning May 15, 2021. The league will not break for the 2021 Olympic Games and the regular season will conclude on Oct. 30, 2021. Six teams will qualify for an expanded NWSL playoffs set to begin on Nov. 6, 2021, with the top two seeds receiving a first-round bye. The league’s ninth season will conclude with the NWSL Championship on Nov. 20, 2021.