NWSL finally announces 2023 schedule

Lizzy Becherano
NWSL announces 2023 schedule.
NWSL announces 2023 schedule. / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The 2023 NWSL schedule is finally here. 

NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman addressed the absence of the league’s 2023 calendar, admitting it 'took too long' to be released.

Several of the league’s high profile players, including Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, publicly questioned the wait for the announcement but failed to receive an answer. 

“Grateful that this day is finally upon us…there are not enough words permitted on Twitter to explain ‘the why’ but it doesn’t much matter — fact is, it took too long,” Berman wrote in a social media post. “Thank you for your passion and for holding us accountable. We will do better.”

This isn't the first time the NWSL has delayed the release of a schedule. 

In 2022, the league provided match updates on March 16, 44 days before the campaign kicked off on April 29. Fans and players demanded efficiency, inspiring Berman to promise the schedule would come 'sooner than last year' during the 2023 NWSL Draft in January. 

But it didn’t. 

Regardless, with just 45 days until kick off, the American league finally revealed the regular season schedule, along with key dates for the World Cup-induced break and Challenge Cup. 

The NWSL campaign will start on March 25 as the North Carolina Courage host the Kansas City Current, and the San Diego Wave faces the Chicago Red Stars on the west coast.

The regular season will run until October 15, where all 12 teams will kick off their respective finales at 5:00pm Eastern Time in a ‘Decision Day’ style manner. Given last year’s tight standings, the new format can work out well. 

The schedule will see a pause from July 9 to August 18, to accommodate the players participating in the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, the league will include breaks for the April and September FIFA international windows. 

The NWSL playoffs will retain the six-team structure, with the top two teams of the regular season receiving an automatic place in the semi-final round. Postseason will kick off on October 22, with the semifinals set for November 4 and the Championship game on November 11. 

The Challenge Cup

The Challenge Cup will no longer be a preseason tournament. After drawing in intense criticism from players and teams about its old format, the competition is set to now be played throughout the season. 

This year’s edition kicks off on Wednesday, April 19, slated between regular-season weekends. The 12 teams will be divided geographically, playing home and away matches against each oter team in their designated groups: 

  • East: North Carolina Courage, NJ/NY Gotham FC, Orlando Pride, Washington Spirit
  • Central: Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, Kansas City Current, Racing Louisville
  • West: Angel City FC, OL Reign, Portland Thorns, San Diego Wave

The Challenge Cup semi-finals are scheduled for September 6, and the final is set just three days later on September 9.