all scores

Challenge Cup: Why the NWSL is playing during the World Cup

Angel City is playing for one of the final spots in the NWSL Challenge Cup knockout rounds this weekend. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

North American soccer fans may note that while the World Cup is going on, so is NWSL play.

But it’s not the regular season. It’s the NWSL’s Challenge Cup, which the league changed this year from a preseason tournament to an in-season competition — similar to the WNBA’s Commissioner’s Cup.

The schedule change has also allowed the league to continue play during the World Cup, keeping players who are not representing their national teams in form. This weekend marks the final slate of Challenge Cup group games before teams advance to the knockout rounds of the tournament to determine a winner.

Four teams from three divisions will move onto the semifinals. Already, OL Reign, Racing Louisville and the North Carolina Courage have clinched their spots. The Kansas City Current are currently second in Group C with 10 points, while Angel City and Gotham FC trail the leaders in their groups with seven points each. (You can see the full standings here.)

The two semifinal games will take place on Sept. 6, followed by the championship match on Sept. 9.

The final group play match schedule is as follows (all times ET):

  • Friday, Aug. 4
    • Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit, 7:00 p.m.
    • Kansas City Current vs. Racing Louisville, 8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, Aug. 5
    • NJ/NY Gotham FC vs. North Carolina Courage, 7:30 p.m.
    • Chicago Red Stars vs. Houston Dash, 8:00 p.m.
    • San Diego Wave vs. Angel City FC, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Aug. 6
    • OL Reign vs. Portland Thorns, 6:00 p.m.