NWSL releases 2022 Challenge Cup schedule

Kristie Mewis celebrates winning the 2020 Challenge Cup with the Houston Dash (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) released the schedule for the 2022 Challenge Cup Monday, with the preseason tournament set to kick off on March 18, with the Kansas City Current and Racing Louisville FC facing off at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville.

The Challenge Cup opener will be followed by the Cascadia rivalry matchup between reigning Challenge Cup title-holders Portland Thorns and OL Reign, slated for a 10 p.m. ET start at Lumen Field in Seattle.

Expansion clubs Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC will make their debuts in the full-league tournament, with their first game scheduled for March 19 at Angel City FC’s Titan Stadium at California State Fullerton.

“We’re pleased to once again open this year’s campaign with the Challenge Cup,” said Managing Director of Competition and Player Affairs Liz Dalton in the league’s statement. “The Cup is an exciting competition to kick off our tenth anniversary season and we are thrilled to provide another opportunity to crown a champion.”

The 2022 Challenge Cup format features three regional groups of four teams. The East region comprises NJ/NY Gotham FC, the North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride and reigning NWSL champions Washington Spirit.

The Central region includes the Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, Kansas City Current and Racing Louisville FC. Angel City FC, OL Reign, Portland Thorns FC and San Diego Wave FC comprise the West region.

The three conferences will compete in round-robin play before the semifinal round and May’s Challenge Cup Final.

The 2022 tournament is the third annual NWSL Challenge Cup, with the Houston Dash capturing the inaugural trophy and the Portland Thorns claiming victory in 2021.

The NWSL says details on the broadcast schedule for the Challenge Cup are forthcoming.