NWSL’s 9 teams returning to local markets with fall series

The National Women’s Soccer League, coming off the success of the Challenge Cup tournament, will play a series of games this fall in local markets with selected matches on national television.

The league’s nine teams will be divided into three groups, with each team playing four matches beginning Sept. 5. The groups are geographically based to minimize travel.

CBS will air a game a week each Saturday in September, with additional games on CBS Sports Network and CBS All Access.

“I am so excited to smartly and safely take this next step on the NWSL’s journey,” NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said in a statement. “The women of the NWSL want to compete and we’ve certainly heard from our fans all over the world looking for more action this year.”

The league had not started its regular season when it was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The NWSL was the first team sport to return to play in the United States with the monthlong Challenge Cup tournament in Utah.

Players were sequestered for the event, which ran from June 27 to July 26, and subject to rigorous testing. The Orlando Pride had to withdraw from the tournament before it started because of positive results.

The league is expected to announce the schedule for the fall series in the coming days. As with the tournament, teams will follow a comprehensive protocol.

The West group is made up of the Portland Thorns, OL Reign and the Utah Royals. In the Northeast, it’s the Chicago Red Stars, Sky Blue and the Washington Spirit. In the South, it’s the North Carolina Courage, Orlando Pride and Houston Dash.

The NWSL is in its eighth year and is the longest running women’s professional soccer league in the United States.

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