The National Women’s Soccer League will play a 25-game NWSL Challenge Cup tournament at Utah’s Zions Bank Stadium and Rio Tinto Stadium in lieu of a regular season for the nine teams in the circuit.
The NWSL Challenge Cup tournament, presented by sponsors P&G and Secret, will begin on June 27, 2020, with no fans present at Zions Bank Stadium. The league’s nine clubs will play four games each in the preliminary rounds, with the top eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals. After another round of single-play elimination, the semifinals and final are set for Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, with the championship scheduled for July 26. The rest of the schedule is to be determined.
The games will be televised: the opening match and the final will be broadcast on CBS, with all games set for the CBS All Access subscription service.
“As our country begins to safely reopen and adjust to our collective new reality, and with the enthusiastic support of our players, owners, as well as our new and current commercial partners, the NWSL is thrilled to bring professional soccer back to the United States,” said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird in a press statement. “This exciting month-long tournament will showcase our league’s talented players and provide our fans the type of world-class entertainment they’ve come to expect from the NWSL.”
The tournament was planned with the unanimous support of the league owners and the players association. However, there are reports that several members of the USWNT will skip the tournament: some for personal reasons, some because of safety concerns, and some because of the synthetic turf used at the Utah stadiums. All nine teams will be housed at two area hotels, with 300 players and 500 administrative staff members on hand.
Image courtesy Portland Thorns.