Storylines to follow during the 2024 NWSL Season

The 2024 NWSL Season is set to kick off this weekend, and this season features many differences from last year. Fans are anxious to see what this season has in store, as the offseason was filled with players on the move, announcements from the league, a two-team expansion draft, and the annual college draft. Here’s a breakdown of a few storylines to follow this season.

New Challenge Cup Format

The Challenge Cup has undergone many changes since it first debuted in place of the regular season in 2020. Since then, it was a preseason tournament, then last season it took place during the regular season, and now it is only one game. The new Challenge Cup format will have last season’s NWSL Champions face off against the NWSL Shield holders in a match that will serve as an opener to the new season.

Reigning NWSL Champs Gotham FC will play Shield holders San Diego Wave FC at Red Bull Arena. Fans can watch the match at 7:00 pm ET on Amazon Prime.

Two New Teams for the 2024 NWSL Season

For the first time ever, the NWSL has 14 teams. This year will be the inaugural season for Bay FC and Utah Royals FC. Bay FC is the first-ever NWSL team in Northern California, and Utah gets a second opportunity to have an NWSL team after the original Royals team moved to Kansas City in 2020. Both teams have brought in stars, with Bay FC signing Champions League winner Asisat Oshoala from FC Barcelona and paying a world record transfer fee to acquire Racheal Kundananji from Madrid CFF.

The Royals selected seasoned veteran Paige Monaghan in the expansion draft and drafted Ally Sentnor as the first overall pick in the NWSL Draft. Bay FC will play their inaugural match on March 17 at 7:30 pm ET. The Royals will play their inaugural match on March 16 at 7:30 ET. Fans can watch both matches on ION Television.

Major Trades and Signings

The offseason had no shortage of shocking trades and signings. The 2024 NWSL Draft brought bombshell trades, which sent Ashley Sanchez to the North Carolina Courage, Sam Staab to the Chicago Red Stars, and Diana Ordóñez to the Houston Dash. Meanwhile, Gotham FC signed USWNT players Rose Lavelle, Crystal Dunn, Tierna Davidson, and Emily Sonnett. Canadian midfielder Jessie Fleming left Chelsea FC to sign with the Portland Thorns.

Venezuelan international Deyna Castellanos left Manchester City to sign with Bay FC. For the Washington Spirit, their biggest move of the offseason didn’t involve bringing in a new player, but a new coach. FC Barcelona manager Jonatan Giráldez will take over as head coach this season.

What are you most excited to see in the new NWSL season? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Twitter and check out Beyond Women’s Sports for more sporting news.

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About Ally Bichsel

Big fan of all things women's soccer. I mostly follow national teams, WSL and NWSL, but am starting to get into the Frauen-Bundesliga and Primera División.

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