The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) dropped the schedule for the league’s 2022 Challenge Cup today. The league will group teams into three regions of four teams each. The Orlando Pride will be grouped in the East region with NJ/NY Gotham FC, the North Carolina Courage, and the Washington Spirit. The league will release broadcast information at a later date.
The Pride, who will open their participation in the tournament on Saturday, March 19 at home against the Washington Spirit, will compete in double round-robin matches (playing each team twice). The competition will indlude a semifinal round and the NWSL Challenge Cup final will be held on on Saturday, May 7.
The top team from each group will advance to contest the semifinals, along with the highest placing second-place finisher out of the three groups. The top group finisher will face the highest second-place finisher in the semifinals (i.e. the No. 1 vs. No. 4 seed), with the second and third group winners (seeds 2 and 3) squaring off in the other semifinal.
Seeding tiebreakers will include goal differential in all group play matches, most goals scored in group play, and lowest team conduct score — a disciplinary score that gives a club one point for a yellow card, three points for a red card that is the result of two yellows, four points for a straight red card, and five points for a player getting a yellow and a straight red. If two or more teams are still tied given the above tiebreakers, the NWSL will draw lots.
Semifinal matches and the final will not include extra time. Those matches will go straight to penalties to determine which team advances and/or wins the event.
Orlando will play three matches in March — two at home — and three more in April in the competition. The Pride will host the Spirit and Gotham in March and will visit the Courage. Orlando will travel to Washington on April 3 and to Gotham on April 23, with a home match against North Carolina sandwiched in on April 16.
The Central region includes the Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, Kansas City Current, and Racing Louisville FC. The West region consists of expansion sides Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC, along with Cascadia rivals OL Reign and the Portland Thorns.
One item of note from the tournament is that a direct red card suspension that cannot be served during the Challenge Cup will be carried over to the team’s next regular-season match.
Orlando Pride 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup Schedule
- Saturday, March 19: vs. Washington Spirit, 7 p.m.
- Saturday, March 26: at North Carolina Courage, 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, March 30: vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC, 7 p.m.
- Sunday, April 3: at Washington Spirit, 4 p.m.
- Saturday, April 16: vs. North Carolina Courage, 7 p.m.
- Saturday, April 23: at NJ/NY Gotham FC, 7 p.m.