The National Women's Soccer League is the top-flight professional league for women in the United States. The NWSL, founded on Nov. 21, 2012, was owned by the teams under a management contract with the U.S. Soccer Federation. As of January 2021, U.S. Soccer is no longer managing the league, although some aspects of the partnership remain.
The NWSL is a successor to Women's Professional Soccer (2007-2012), which was a successor to Women's United Soccer Association (2001-2003) – the world's first women's soccer league in which players were paid as professionals.
The NWSL kicked off with its 2013 season featuring eight teams, four of which were former participants in the WPS (Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Sky Blue, Western New York Flash). The league saw FC Kansas City and Boston Breakers fold and introduced three expansion teams – Houston (2014), Orlando (2016), Salt Lake City (2018) – across seven years. In 2020, Utah Royals FC (Salt Lake City) sold its ownership and relocated to Kansas City. Moreover, Louisville was introduced as the fourth expansion team in 2021. The NWSL's 10th anniversary will be celebrated with the introduction of two more expansion teams - Angel City FC (2022), Sacramento (2022).
When does the 2021 NWSL regular season start?
The 2021 NWSL regular season begins Saturday, May 15, with three games on opening day.
League newbies Racing Louisville FC and Kansas City will open play at Lynn Family Stadium, starting 5 p.m. ET. Following the opening game, 2021 Challenge Cup finalist NJ/NY Gotham FC host the Houston Dash at Red Bull Arena, beginning at 7 p.m. ET. And lastly, Cheney Stadium will house a contest between OL Reign and the North Carolina Courage at 10 p.m. ET.
Which teams will play in the 2021 NWSL season?
- Chicago Red Stars
- Houston Dash
- Kansas City
- NJ/NY Gotham FC
- North Carolina Courage
- OL Reign
- Orlando Pride
- Portland Thorns
- Racing Louisville
- Washington Spirit
Who are the current NWSL champions?
The 2020 NWSL season was drastically different from previous times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The league created the NWSL Challenge Cup and followed it up with the Fall Series.
The Houston Dash defeated the Chicago Red Stars 2-0 in the Challenge Cup championship game behind closed doors at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Heroic performances from goalkeeper Jane Campbell, forward Rachel Daly, Shea Groom and Kristie Mewis in July led the Dash to sneak out with the trophy after a fourth-place finish in the preliminary round.
Months later, the Portland Thorns topped the Fall Series table after three wins and a draw. Ten points were just enough for Portland to deny Houston another title in 2020.
The North Carolina Courage won the 2019 NWSL championship game against the Chicago Red Stars, who were led by league top scorer Sam Kerr. The Courage demolished the Red Stars 4-0 with Debinha, Jessica McDonald, Crystal Dunn, and Samantha Mewis getting on the scoreboard.
Important dates in the 2021 NWSL season?
Games on CBS Sports Network
- May 15, 2021 – Racing Louisville vs. Kansas City
- May 23, 2021 – Portland Thorns vs. OL Reign
- May 26, 2021 – Kansas City vs Chicago Red Stars
- May 29. 2021 – Houston Dash vs. Chicago Red Stars
- Aug. 22, 2021 – Washington Spirit vs Orlando Pride
- Aug. 25, 2021 – Portland Thorns vs. Gotham FC
- Sept. 1, 2021 – Houston Dash vs. OL Reign
- Sept. 12, 2021 – NC Courage vs. Portland Thorns
- Oct. 6, 2021 – Gotham FC vs. Washington Spirit
- TBD – Quarterfinal #1
- TBD – Quarterfinal #2
- TBD – Semifinal #1
- TBD – Semifinal #2
Games on CBS
- June 19, 2021 – NC Courage vs. OL Reign on CBS
- June 20, 2021 – Portland Thorns vs. Kansas City on CBS
- Sept. 5, 2021 – Orlando Pride vs. Houston Dash
- TBD – Championship game
What are the NWSL's broadcast channels and streaming platforms?
The National Women's Soccer League announced on Friday, May 7, the full broadcast schedule for the 2021 regular season and playoffs.
CBS will broadcast three regular-season games, as well as the 2021 NWSL Championship. Paramount+, ViacomCBS' exclusive streaming service, will stream the four matches simultaneously.
Eleven regular-season games and three playoff matches, including one quarterfinal and both semifinals, will air on CBS Sports Network.
Paramount+ will exclusively stream 82 additional regular-season contests.
All matches will stream internationally on Twitch, and it will exclusively stream 24 games globally, including in the USA.