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NWSL announces preliminary framework for 2022 season

By NWSL Communications, 12/18/21, 3:30PM EST

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The Challenge Cup is back leading into the league's first-ever balanced slate.


Photo: Courtesy of Connor Cunningham

The National Women’s Soccer League on Saturday announced the preliminary competition framework for its historic 10th anniversary campaign, featuring a 132-game schedule and the return of the NWSL Challenge Cup.

“We’re excited to get this momentous season underway,” said Managing Director of Competition and Player Affairs Liz Dalton. “The 10th anniversary season is a testament to the league’s incredible athletes past and present, the sustained support of our fans, and the vision and investment of our partners and owners.  We look forward to further establishing the NWSL as the best women’s soccer league in the world.”

Players are set to report to a six-week preseason camp beginning on Feb. 1 before kicking off the 2022 season on Saturday, March 19, with Challenge Cup group play. The tournament will feature three groups of four teams playing double round-robin matches, semifinals and the cup final on Saturday, May 7, broadcast on the CBS and available to stream live on Paramount+.

The season will continue with each of the 12 teams then playing home and away matches against every other team in the league for the first balanced schedule in NWSL history.  Critically, the league has been able to build a schedule framework for 2022 that will significantly limit the number of games that occur during FIFA windows, ensuring the league’s most accomplished players are able to compete for club and country with relatively few conflicts compared to recent years.

All told, each team will play 28 matches — 14 contests in home markets and 14 on the road. The full schedule will be released at a later date.

Six teams will qualify for the NWSL playoffs set to start in October with the top two seeds receiving a first-round bye. The NWSL Championship will be played the weekend of Oct. 28-30.


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