The NWSL Challenge Cup kicks off this weekend at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.
The third annual event offers a preview into the upcoming 2022 regular season, and gives teams the chance to put the finishing touches on their game during a competitive tournament. There are 12 teams participating this year, up from the 10 who competed last year.
The tournament will officially start with regional play Friday, March 18th and will run through Saturday, May 7th.
This year’s Challenge Cup will feature three regional groups: East, West, and Central unlike last year where the teams were split into east and west groups.
The East group will consist of NJ/NY Gotham FC, the North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride and the Washington Spirit competing for the top spot.
In the West, the newest Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC teams join OL Reign and reigning Challenge Cup champions Portland Thorns FC.
In the Central region the Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, Kansas City Current and Racing Louisville FC will face off.
Each team will play six matches within the regional group pairings, receiving 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, and 0 points for a loss.
Following the regional group play, the top team from each region will move on to the semifinals, along with the highest ranking second place team from one of the groups. The seeds will be determined by points accumulated during the group stage with a predetermined set of tiebreakers in case of equal results. The top three teams will receive seeds 1 through 3 based on number of points and potential tiebreakers. The highest ranking second place team will be seeded 4th.
The championship and two other matches will be broadcast on The CBS Television Network. The three matches will also stream live on Paramount+. Four matches will air on CBS Sports Network. All other matches will stream exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. The entire Challenge Cup tournament will be available to stream internationally on Twitch.
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