The NWSL will usher in history to open its 2024 regular season schedule on March 16, when the Kansas City Current will open the country’s first stadium built specifically for a women’s soccer team.
The Current will play the Portland Thorns at the CPKC Stadium in a matchup that will also mark Vlatko Andonvoski’s return to the league since he resigned as the U.S. women’s national team head coach last August. Andonovski was later hired by the Current, which marks a homecoming after he spent his first years in the NWSL coaching the now-defunct FC Kansas City. As for the Thorns, this will be the first match since RAJ Sports acquired the club earlier this month.
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CPKC Stadium’s opening is the highlight of the first weekend of action in 2024 for the NWSL, which released its full regular season schedule on Thursday. The new campaign is expected to be full of landmark moments for a handful of teams across the league, especially as several teams enter new chapters.
The Utah Royals exemplify the sentiment and are one of the headlining acts of opening day as a result. After suddenly folding and relocating to Kansas City amid an ownership change in 2020, the Royals will officially make their NWSL return on March 16 when they host the Red Stars. The visitors will also mark the start of a new era on that day, since this will be the start of their first full season under new majority owner Laura Ricketts and the first match with head coach Lorne Donaldson. Fellow expansion team Bay FC, meanwhile, will head to Angel City for their first-ever NWSL match.
Reigning champions NJ/NY Gotham FC will wait a week for their opening game of the regular season. Gotham will play in the re-envisioned Challenge Cup against the San Diego Wave on March 15, which will offer a first glimpse at a new-look Gotham after they inked sought-after free agents Crystal Dunn, Tierna Davidson, Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett. Gotham will head to Portland on March 24 to open their regular season, while the Shield-winning Wave will begin the regular season at home against the Current.
Other landmark moments are on the horizon for the 2024 regular season including for the Seattle Reign. The club is currently on the market and like the Red Stars and the Thorns, will soon play their first game under new ownership. The Reign were put up for sale by France’s OL Groupe last year and, per Sportico, are in advanced talks to be bought by MLS’ Seattle Sounders.
As for on-field milestones, this season will see the first match in which two former NWSL players coach against each other on April 20, when Racing Louisville host the Royals. Louisville are now led by Bev Yanez, who played for the Reign and is now entering her first gig as a head coach, while the Royals are coached by Amy Rodrgiuez, a 2015 Women’s World Cup winner with the USWNT. She was also a former Royals player and is also beginning her first head coaching role.
The Washington Spirit will also welcome a new high-profile head coach midway through the season in Jonatan Giraldez. The Champions League winner will leave FC Barcelona at the conclusion of their season and should be in charge of the Spirit by June, when the team has much-anticipated matches against the Wave and Gotham. The Spirit are also expected to unveil a rebrand sometime in 2024.
The regular season will wrap up with fixtures from Friday, Nov. 1 through Sunday, Nov. 3. The NWSL will not replicate 2023’s Decision Day, when all teams played at the same time to create a high-stakes atmosphere with several playoff spots on the line.
The decision to spread out the matches on the final weekend is likely to accommodate the league’s landmark new broadcast deal, which is reportedly worth $60 million a year. The NWSL will have matches broadcast across CBS, ESPN, Amazon and ION as well as on NWSL+, their own free-to-watch streaming platform.
See below for the opening weekend schedule. You can see the full schedule here.
Opening weekend schedule
All times Eastern
Friday, March 15
NWSL Challenge Cup: NJ/NY Gotham FC vs. San Diego Wave, 8 p.m. (Prime Video)
Saturday, March 16
Kansas City Current vs. Portland Thorns, 1 p.m. (ABC)
Racing Louisville vs. Orlando Pride, 4 p.m. (NWSL+)
North Carolina Courage vs. Houston Dash, 7 p.m. (NWSL+)
Utah Royals vs. Chicago Red Stars, 7:30 p.m. (ION)
Angel City vs. Bay FC, 10 p.m. (ION)
Sunday, March 17
Seattle Reign vs. Washington Spirit, 6 p.m. (NWSL+)