The 2024 NWSL regular season will begin on March 16 with an expanded slate of games and a new international in-season competition on the agenda for the upcoming year.
Each team will now play 26 regular season games -- 13 at home, 13 away -- with the arrival of expansion sides Utah Royals FC and Bay FC, up from the 22 matches they played in 2023. Players are due to report for preseason between Jan. 22 and 29 for roughly six weeks of preparation for the 2024 season. The full NWSL schedule will be released at a later date.
The longer regular season is one of just a handful of changes to the NWSL scheduling framework, including a brand new kickoff event. Here's a timeline of the year ahead.
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March 15: Updated Challenge Cup
The season will unofficially kick off on March 15 with the reenvisioned version of the Challenge Cup, now truncated to one match that will take place as the first event during the season's opening weekend. The 2024 Challenge Cup will see the champions NJ/NY Gotham FC take on Shield winners San Diego Wave.
The regular season will begin on the following day.
July 19: New international tournament
The league will also take a break from regular season play during the Olympic Games in Paris, which runs from July 24 to Aug. 10 and is expected to feature many of the NWSL's top talent, including members of the U.S. women's national team. Regular season play will pause on July 8, first for a week-long break mandated by the collective bargaining agreement and then through Aug. 16 in accordance with the Olympics.
While the Olympics are ongoing, though, the NWSL will organize a tournament that includes all 14 teams plus some international participants. Though there are few specifics available at the time, the competition will begin the weekend of July 19.
Nov. 9: Expanded playoffs begin
The playoff field will also grow from six in 2023 to eight in 2024 with the addition of the expansion teams. The move eliminates the first round byes that the top two teams during the regular season would previously enjoy. There will now be four quarterfinal games instead of two ahead of the usually scheduled semifinals and championship game.
The expanded playoffs will begin with the quarterfinals on Nov. 9 and 10, followed by the semifinals on Nov. 16 and 17 and the championship on Nov. 23.