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Finally, 45 days before the first kickoff of the 2023 NWSL season, the schedule is here. While we won’t say it was worth the wait, what was released is both encouraging, and extremely exciting. NWSL teams celebrated by dropping fire content, and none was more fire than the Chicago Red Stars.
As far as the schedule itself, in the past the NWSL has always struggled during World Cup years. As the most prominent league that plays through the summer (opposite of major European calendars), there were always bunches of NWSL games in which star talent would be elsewhere with their national teams.
This season, instead of the Challenge Cup (a tournament started in 2020 due to the pandemic) being played as a preseason tournament, which led to injuries and fatigue before the regular season, it’s integrated into the regular season calendar. Now, a bulk of Challenge Cup matches will occur during the World Cup, increasing the likelihood that star players won’t miss important league games while also giving other talent a stage to shine in the NWSL.
Also, as promised last year, there are no midweek league games. Every match will kickoff on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
The season officially starts Saturday, March 25, and here are some matchups we cannot wait to watch, listed in chronological order.
Kansas City probably had the best NWSL offseason ever while North Carolina…did not. Debinha, the Courage’s star player for six years, is not with Kansas City, along with a number of other impressive free agent, draft and international signings.
North Carolina has had to rebuild their squad after losing Debinha and Diana Ordóñez, who combined to score half of North Carolina’s goals last season. Kansas City could make a big statement early, or North Carolina could pull the emergency break on the KC hype train.
Both teams brought in loads of exciting talent. Houston added rookie top scorer Diana Ordóñez and 20-year-old attacking talent Bárbara Olivieri to an already dangerous combo of María Sánchez and Ebony Salmon. Louisville added Tigres star attacker Uchenna Kanu and Brazilian midfielder Ary Borger to what could (should) be a team full of fun talent.
We have no idea who will win this game but we do know it’s going to be a LOT of fun.
Angel City threw a lot of money around to get No. 1 overall draft pick Alyssa Thompson, and she could make her debut against a Gotham squad that mashed the reset button until they ended up with proven talents Yazmeen Ryan, Lynn Williams, Kelley O’Hara and Kristen Edmonds.
2022 NWSL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME REMATCH!
This rivalry still needs a name but the only California teams (until the Bay Area joins next season) clashing has already been fun. Both teams have ambitious ownership and plenty of star power, and fanbases to match. This matchup will take place at Angel City’s home, which was consistently one of the highest attended and rowdiest atmospheres in the NWSL.
The first Cascadia Rivalry of the season will have to wait until early June but it’s one of the NWSL’s best spectacles. Not only are both teams loaded with talent, both fanbases are rabid in the very best way.