The National Women’s Soccer League announced the schedule this afternoon for the league’s upcoming Challenge Cup tournament. This includes the games that the Orlando Pride will play during the tournament this summer. The Pride will open the tournament against the Chicago Red Stars on June 27 in a game that will be broadcast nationally on CBS per Julia Poe of the Orlando Sentinel. The club’s press release stated that game times and broadcast information will be officially announced at a later date.
Due to the COVID-19 virus, the 2020 NWSL season was postponed for the safety of players and fans. In order to have a competition of the league this summer, the league came up with a competition that would take place in Salt Lake City, UT area at Utah Royals FC facilities.
The 25-game tournament will involve all nine NWSL teams and will start on June 27 and end with the final on July 26. Each club will play four games during the preliminary stage with eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals. At that point, it will be a typical knockout competition. Most of the games will be held at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, UT, with the semifinals and final being held at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy. The opening game and the final will air live on CBS, while all games will be aired on CBS All Access.
The schedule for this unique tournament was decided by a draw that streamed on CBS Sports HQ this afternoon. The draw determined the dates and opponents for each team during the first round. Still, the league’s random draw made things almost as tough as it possibly could on the Pride, who will play Chicago, Portland, and North Carolina in the opening round.
The Pride held the number nine slot in the streamed draw which determined the first three match days. It was a tough start to the draw for the Pride as they drew the Chicago Red Stars, who finished second in 2019, and Portland Thorns FC, who finished third in the 2019 NWSL season. Orlando will then take on defending champion North Carolina.
While only the first two Challenge Cup games were announced during the live stream, the rest of the first round was announced later.
Here is the Pride’s schedule for the first round of the 2020 Challenge Cup:
June 27 — Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars (TBA — either CBS or CBS All-Access)
July 1 — Portland Thorns FC vs Orlando Pride (CBS All Access)
July 5 — North Carolina Courage vs. Orlando Pride (CBS All Access)
July 9 — Orlando Pride vs. Sky Blue FC (CBS All-Access)
Should the Pride somehow avoid last place after facing three of the league’s top teams, they would advance to the second round. All but the ninth-place team will advance. The odds makers do not favor the Pride in this competition.
We’ll have more information as it becomes available.