The National Women's Soccer League will be the first American sports league to resume when its 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup commences on June 27.
Like nearly all sports leagues around the world, the league had been in limbo since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Training was paused in March while the 2020 NWSL season's April 18 start date was delayed indefinitely.
The season was to be a regular 24 game schedule for each of the league's nine teams followed by a semi-final and final.
But after two months of uncertainty, the league announced the 2020 NWSL season will be replaced by a one-time, one-month long competition named the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup.
The format for the Challenge Cup will follow a format similar to the World Cup, with a group phase followed by a knockout phase. The league's teams will play four group games in the preliminary round before the top eight teams progress to the quarter-finals.
A draw last Monday set the preliminary round's schedule, with the Challenge Cup will start on June 27 with the final on July 26. The preliminary round schedule is as follows:
📰The #NWSLChallengeCup Preliminary Round Schedule was released after today's draw on @CBSSportsHQ.— Her Beautiful Game 😷🏳ï¸â€🌈🖤 (@HerBeautifulGam) June 1, 2020
The Cup, held in @SaltLakeCityUT, consists of 4 preliminary games for each of the 9 teams. The top 8 @NWSL teams will then proceed to a knock out round until the final on July 26. pic.twitter.com/4M5jImjdGF
The entire tournament will be held in the greater Salt Lake City area. While no fans will be allowed to be in attendance, the cup will be broadcast on CBS in the US and Canada, and on Twitch worldwide.
Three Australians are currently signed to NWSL teams. Ellie Carpenter plays for Portland Thorns while Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond are with Orlando Pride. At present only van Egmond is confirmed to have returned to the US.