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NWSL announces Challenge Cup update, new Olympic tournament

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(Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports)

The NWSL announced a new framework for its 2024 schedule on Thursday, which includes a revised plan for the Challenge Cup.

The tournament is now just a single match between the reigning NWSL champions and shield winners. This year, that match will be between Gotham FC and the San Diego Wave, and will take place on March 15 on Amazon Prime as a prelude to the regular season kickoff on March 16.

“The 2024 season marks the start of an exciting new chapter for the NWSL and one that will set the tone for the future of our sport in the U.S. and globally,” NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said in a release. “Women’s soccer shined on an international stage in 2023 and as attendance, viewership and investment figures continue to explode, our league has never been better positioned to capitalize on the momentum the game is experiencing.

“Underscored by the addition of our 13th and 14th franchises, an enhanced match calendar and, critically, groundbreaking media rights agreements that will ensure our games are readily accessible to more fans than ever before, the 2024 campaign represents a new era for the NWSL as we continue our efforts to deliver the best product in professional soccer.”

A total of 190 matches will be played, with 118 of them airing on national platforms thanks to the league’s new media rights deal.

The regular season will feature 182 matches and take place over 25 weeks. According to the league, “the schedule has been formatted to avoid staging NWSL matches during FIFA windows and maintain flexibility for the league’s top players as they compete with both club and country.”

There will also be a CBA-mandated league break from July 8 to 14, while the league will break from regular season play from July 15 to August 18 during the Olympics.

During this time, the league will organize a tournament featuring international participants and all 14 NWSL clubs, the league announced, with more details about the competition set to follow.

The playoffs have also been expanded, with eight clubs set to qualify for the 2024 NWSL playoffs. It will now consists of four quarterfinal matches, with byes to the semifinals having been eliminated as a result.

The league’s full 2024 schedule will be released at a later date.