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OL Reign’s Bethany Balcer calls out NWSL for Challenge Cup final start time

OL Reign became the first team to clinch a spot in the Challenge Cup semifinals. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

OL Reign forward Bethany Balcer took to Twitter on Thursday afternoon to call out the NWSL and CBS for the start time of the upcoming Challenge Cup final.

The group stage of the preseason tournament concludes this week, with the semifinals set for Wednesday, May 4, and the final for Saturday, May 7. But while the semifinals will start at 8 p.m. ET and 10 p.m. ET, the championship game will kick off at 1 p.m. ET.

“If you really cared about women’s sports you would actually put us at prime time,” Balcer tweeted at the NWSL and at CBS, which will televise the championship. “Thanks in advance!”

The location for this year’s knockout matches has not been set. Last year, the Portland Thorns finished with the best record in the group stage, which earned them the right to host Gotham FC in the final at Providence Park. The match started at 1 p.m. ET – so at 10 a.m. local time in Portland.

OL Reign became the first team to clinch a spot in the semifinals with its win Sunday against Angel City FC. If the Reign end up hosting the final at Lumen Field in Seattle, then the start time would again fall at 10 a.m. local time.

“I would love to see someone look into an NWSL player’s eyes and tell them they have to eat pregame meal between 6-7 a.m.,” Balcer tweeted.

The NWSL received criticism for scheduling an early West Coast kickoff for its championship last November. The title game was slated to begin at 9 a.m. PT at Providence Park, but players including Ashlyn Harris and Rachel Corsie voiced their discontent. The game was moved to Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, which put the kickoff at noon local time.

Balcer also expressed dismay that the Challenge Cup knockout stage overlaps with the regular season, which starts on April 29.

“Where is the COMMON SENSE,” Balcer tweeted. “Now your reward for making the Challenge Cup final is having to play three games in seven days… I cannot sit idly by as the well being of the player’s is put in jeopardy by bogus kickoff times and high physical demand. Let’s be better.”