2024 NWSL schedule includes expanded playoffs, break for Paris Olympics

After a historic 2023 season that served as the swan song for Megan Rapinoe, the NWSL is expanding its schedule for 2024.

In a media release posted on Thursday, the NWSL said this upcoming season will feature more games, a revised NWSL Challenge Cup format and a break for the Paris Olympics. Last month, the league announced a landmark four-year media rights deal that will see women’s soccer on more broadcasts than ever.

In 2024, the NWSL will welcome Bay FC as an expansion team and the Utah Royals will rejoin the league to bring the team total to 14.

“The 2024 campaign represents a new era for the NWSL as we continue our efforts to deliver the best product in professional soccer,” NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement.

Here is the information for the expanded 2024 NWSL schedule:

2024 NWSL Challenge Cup

The 2024 NWSL Challenge Cup will open with NJ/NY Gotham FC taking on San Diego Wave FC on March 15.

This is a new format where the previous season’s NWSL champion takes on the winner of the NWSL Shield (the regular season winner). If the same team wins the championship and Shield, the Challenge Cup opener will be a rematch of last year’s championship game.

Last year, the Challenge Cup prize pool was a record $1 million.

OL Reign midfielder Rose Lavelle scores a goal against New Jersey/New York Gotham FC during the 2023 NWSL championship game.

2024 NWSL season opener, length of schedule

The 2024 NWSL regular season kicks off on March 16.

Each team will play 26 matches, four more than last year, with a total of 182 total games across the season.

2024 NWSL Paris Olympics break

The 2024 NWSL schedule is built around FIFA windows and is set to allow players to compete for their national teams.

The CBA-mandated break will be July 8-14, followed by a break from July 15 to Aug. 18 to account for the Paris Olympics.

2024 NWSL expanded playoff format

Eight teams will qualify for the 2024 NWSL playoffs, two more than last season.

All eight teams will play in the quarterfinals, meaning the bye for the top two seeds has been eliminated.

Portland Thorns FC forward Sophia Smith (9) celebrates a goal against the Kansas City Current with teammate Morgan Weaver (22).

2024 NWSL season broadcast schedule

There will be 118 NWSL matches shown on television or streaming in the 2024 season through the historic four-year media rights deal with CBS, ESPN, Amazon Prime Video and Scripps Sports.

Prime Video will stream Friday night matches. ION network, owned by Scripps Sports, will air a doubleheader each Saturday night. CBS Television Network and Paramount+ will have a regular-season package, as will ESPN’s network (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes), which will feature English and Spanish broadcasts on ESPN+.

Coverage of the 2024 NWSL playoffs will be split among the companies in the media rights deal.

Quarterfinals: Prime Video, CBS and Paramount+, ESPN/ABC

Semifinals: CBS and Paramount+, ESPN/ABC

Championship: CBS in primetime

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NWSL schedule 2024: League announces expanded regular season, playoffs


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