The 2021 National Women’s Soccer League schedule was officially announced on Wednesday with teams returning to home markets this season.
As done in 2020, the league will bring back the NWSL Challenge Cup to kick off the campaign, which is slated to begin on April 9th. Teams will report to preseason camp on February 1st before beginning the Challenge Cup in their respective home markets.
“The NWSL’s Medical Task Force has worked tirelessly in coordination with public health officials to update the league’s medical and testing protocols to ensure the safest environment for our players, teams and staff to return to competition,” the league said in a statement.
The league’s 10 teams will face off in a 24-game regular season running from May 15th to October 30th. The league will not break for the 2021 Olympic Games and the top six finishers from the regular season will take part in the NWSL Playoffs.
The playoffs are scheduled to begin on November 6th, with the top two seeds receiving a first-round bye. The NWSL Championship will take place on November 20th, which will conclude the league’s ninth season ahead of the 2021 Expansion Draft slated for December 16th.
The Houston Dash are the defending Challenge Cup Champions after defeating the Chicago Red Stars 2-0 to claim a first trophy in club history last June.