After the huge success of the 2020 Challenge Cup this summer, the NWSL decided to return to play during the fall, with matches running from September 5th to October 17th. The league announced their plan to return on August 25th, 2020, letting their fans know that they would be getting more NWSL action before the year ends. Along with bringing excitement to all those eager for more soccer, they also announced that the CBS Television Network will televise an NWSL Game of the Week every Saturday in September, and on CBS Sports Network three Saturdays in October. Additionally, CBS All Access will stream four games as well as the CBS broadcast coverage in September.
The exact schedule and format of the NWSL Fall Series have yet to be released, but the series will include 18 matches in seven weeks, featuring three pods of three teams each, with each team playing four games in each region to minimize traveling and exposure.
The pods are listed below:
Portland Thorns FC
Utah Royals FC
Chicago Red Stars
Sky Blue FC
North Carolina Courage
Houston Dash (2020 NWSL Challenge Cup Champions)
Furthermore, the NWSL explained how the logistics of play would work this time around since there will be some traveling involved. Apart from the division of regions to minimize the spread of the virus, the NWSL said they will be following the return-to-play protocols previously developed by the NWSL Medical Task Force that were successfully implemented during the Challenge Cup since the league was able to go all tournament long without a single positive test.
Finally, with all the trades that occurred in the “offseason”, right after the Challenge Cup, teams will be looking quite different from when we last saw them. This is something that could be a good thing for some, but not so much for others. Players such as Sam Mewis from the Courage, Rose Lavelle from OL Reign, plus Shelina Zadorsky and Alanna Kennedy from Orlando Pride have made moves overseas either by loan or full transfer. While the loss of talent is evident, on the other hand, it can give room for new faces to continue rising and for teams to experiment with new styles of play.