The National Women’s Soccer League has announced the competition framework for its 11th season, featuring a 176-game schedule including the fourth installment of the reformatted UKG NWSL Challenge Cup.
The Houston Dash are set to begin their 10th season in the NWSL on March 25. Preseason is set to begin six to eight weeks before the opening weekend of games.
“Reaching our historic 10th season of play was a landmark moment for women’s professional soccer and the greater women’s sports community,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman. “The growth of the NWSL is a testament to the league’s incredible athletes as well as the steadfast support of its fans, owners and stakeholders, and we look forward to building off last season’s momentum with another exciting season in 2023. I’m confident next year will provide an experience worthy of the world’s premier professional women’s soccer league.”
For the first time since its inception in 2020, the UKG NWSL Challenge Cup will now run concurrently with the regular season. Consisting of a six-week tournament from April to September, the Cup will feature three groups of four teams playing double round-robin matches for a total of six contests. Following group play, four teams will square off in semifinal matches on Wednesday, September 6 ahead of the UKG NWSL Challenge Cup Final on Saturday, September 9. The 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup will also be the first-ever women’s professional soccer tournament to achieve pay equity with its U.S. peers in the men’s game. This is the result of the historic partnership between NWSL and UKG, a leading provider of HR, payroll, and workforce management solutions for all people.
Comprised of a balanced 22-game schedule, the 132-game regular season will be played over 22 weeks, eliminating mid-week matches to minimize schedule congestion for player safety and optimal performance. The schedule has been formatted to limit the number of regular-season games staged during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup to ensure the league’s top players are able to compete for both club and country with minimal conflicts.
In total, each team will play 28 matches between the regular season and the UKG NWSL Challenge Cup, 14 games at home and 14 games on the road.
The full league schedule and broadcast details will be released at a later date.
Six teams will qualify for the NWSL playoffs set to begin in late October with the top two seeds receiving a first-round bye. The quarterfinal round will be played on October 22, followed by the semifinal round, set for November 4.
The 2023 campaign will conclude with the NWSL Championship on November 11.