The NWSL Is Close To Returning...


We are edging closer and closer to the return of the NWSL however, there will be a Challenge Cup tournament before the start of the  regular season. It is nice to see another competition introduced in the States as when you look around the world the majority of leagues have multiple competitions played throughout the year where as with the NWSL it was the regular season and that is it. However, after the Challenge Cup replaced the regular season last year due to the pandemic it looks like the league are adding it to upcoming years, or at least just this year which means players are getting much more game time and fans get to see more from their favourite players. I think this could really end up benefiting the league as I think more games and an extra tournament could also bring in a lot more fans especially International ones. 

The players reported for preseason back on February 1st ready for the preseason fixtures and the start of the Challenge Cup on April 9th. It is going to be nice having the Cup played before the season starts as it is a chance for players to get back into the swing of things after some have had a year out due to injuries and the pandemic. It will also give the managers a chance to see what they are working with for the upcoming season and if any areas need improvement or strengthening. 

Following the completion of the Challenge Cup the 10 NWSL teams will then compete in the regular season which start on May 15th and will consist of 24 games so it should be a nice long season and added with the Challenge Cup fixtures fans are in for plenty of opportunities to see their favourite teams. What I like most about this season though is that there isn't going to be a break for the Olympics if it goes ahead. I like the fact there isn't going to be a break as it should mean that a lot of younger fringe players get the chance to make their mark on the season and make a name for themselves which they might not have got if the bigger names didn't have to leave for the tournament. 

The regular season is due to end on October 30th 2021 so a little later than in previous years with six teams qualifying for an extended playoff that is due to begin on November 6th. The top two seeds with receive a first round bye for this and the season will end on November 20th with the Championship. This is definitely ending later than it usually would but with the pandemic I think this is the best way to ensure the league still goes ahead. 

Once the season is over it is a case of jumping straight into planning for the leagues 10th season in 2022. There will be an expansion draft held on December 16th which will feature Angel City FC and Sacramento. I am really interested to see how this draft goes as for years there have been fan theories floating around in regards to which players will end up at these teams due to the location so it is going to be good to see if any of them are true or not. To be honest though I am more excited to see the league expanding to 12 teams as I think it is going to make the league more competitive and introduce some great new talents to the competition. 

 What I am really interested to see this season is how teams perform without some of the big name players that have gone abroad since the last regular NWSL season. With the likes of Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper, Hayley Raso, Alanna Kennedy and Rose Lavelle to name just a few players all now playing in the UK in the WSL there is a whole load of talent that have left the NWSL and gone on to new challenges. This has left teams with big roles to fill and there has also been a lot of movement within the NWSL with big names switching teams so it will definitely be an interesting season which is potentially a lot more competitive. 

It is sure to be a good year for the NWSL with the Challenge Cup and the regular season with most of 2021 filled with games, I just can't wait for it to all kick off on April 9th, fingers crossed a lot of games are at reasonable times for the international fans too so I can catch as much of the action as possible. I am looking forward to bringing you plenty of NWSL content throughout the year so keep an eye out for plenty more posts coming soon. 

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