The NWSL announced the broad outlines of the 2023 schedule on Thursday. That does not mean any fixtures are out, but some basic dates are out, so you can start planning. Love it!
The big news is the NWSL Challenge Cup will no longer come before the start of the regular season, but instead run concurrently with the regular season. The regular season will kick off the week of Mar. 25, after a preseason that will last 6-8 weeks, opening between Jan. 23 and Feb. 6, at the apparent discretion of the clubs themselves.
The regular season will mostly or entirely take place on weekends, as the league said they’re trying to limit fixture congestion. However, the Challenge Cup will kick off in April, with that competition stretching to September. Will those games take place midweek? It’s unclear at present.
Speaking of the Challenge Cup, the format will be pretty much the same, with three groups of four and home-and-away group play. The top four finishers will go to the knockout round, which will be in September, with the Challenge Cup final coming on Sept. 9.
Meanwhile, the 22-game regular season has the 2023 World Cup to deal with, and the league is promising they will “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.” Considering U.S. internationals have previously dipped out on their NWSL clubs for upwards of three months in a World Cup year, we’ll see how that works out.
The playoff format remains the same for 2023, with the top six finishers headed to the postseason, beginning in late October. The NWSL Final is scheduled for Nov. 11.
So that’s a nice thumbnail sketch for the season ahead. Considering we previously haven’t gotten any schedule information until well after New Year’s the past few years, this is a welcome surprise. Hopefully the fixtures themselves will come out before long, and we’ll see what’s on tap for Angel City FC and the rest of the NWSL in 2023.
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