NWSL opens the 2024 season today now with 14 teams, a comprehensive new TV/Streaming deal, and the possible expansion to Tampa Bay before 2026.

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Christian Pulisic of the United States is helped by team doctors after he scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup group B soccer match between Iran and the United States at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Building on a year of unprecedented growth in 2023, the National Women’s Soccer League proudly opens its 2024 season this Saturday, March 16, kicking off a historic campaign that will feature more players, more matches and more opportunities to watch the action than ever before.  Commissioner Jessica Berman is very excited about the amazing growth of the league to become one of the world’s top destinations for women soccer players.

She also made it clear that the league will expand by at least two teams by the start of the 2026 season and while she did not name the cities under consideration Tampa, Boston, Austin are very much in the running to land an expansion team. The Tampa Bay Sun of the USL will play their inaugural season and they are working to build a downtown stadium and until then the have spent 6 million dollars to upgrade Blake H.S. to serve as the team’s temporary home.

the Orlando Pride are already part of the NWSL and another Florida team to serve as their rival is something the league might enjoy. But for now, the focus is on the 2024 season and the massive strides the women’s league has made.

HOW TO WATCH  

The 2024 NWSL season marks the start of the league’s landmark domestic media rights agreements. Fans will now be able to watch 121 matches across CBS, ESPN, Prime Video, and Scripps-owned ION. The remaining matches will be available for free on NWSL+.   

Friday night matches airing on Prime Video are available to US fans here.   

Saturday night double-headers airing at 7:30 and 10 p.m. ET on ION are available to US fans here.   

For games airing on CBS, U.S. fans can watch here. US Fans can also stream on Paramount+ here.   

For games airing on ESPN, U.S. fans can watch here. Matches on ESPN and ESPN2 will also stream on ESPN+.   

For games airing on NWSL+, U.S. fans can watch here.   

Fans outside of the U.S. can watch on NWSL+

This year’s competition slate opens with the 2024 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup featuring a clash of champions in reigning NWSL titleholder NJ/NY Gotham FC and San Diego Wave FC, winner of the 2023 NWSL Shield, presented by CarMax, as the two clubs face off in a season curtain-raiser at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. ET and will stream live on Prime Video in the platform’s inaugural season of league coverage. 

Following the Challenge Cup, the 2024 NWSL regular season kicks off in historic fashion on Saturday, March 16 as the Kansas City Current host Portland Thorns FC in a rematch of the 2022 NWSL Championship at CPKC Stadium, the world’s first purpose-built stadium for a women’s professional sports team. Kicking off at 1 p.m. ET, live coverage of the match will air on ABC.  

The star-studded match features three 2023 MVP finalists in Portland midfielder Sam Coffey, Portland forward Sophia Smith, who took home the honor in 2022, and Kansas City midfielder Debinha. Smith and Debinha, both 2023 Ballon d’Or candidates, finished first and third, respectively, among all NWSL players in goals last season while Coffey led the league in assists.  

Saturday’s action continues with a double-header on NWSL+, the league’s first-ever domestic direct-to-consumer streaming platform. The first match to stream on the platform begins at 4 p.m. ET and features a battle of Brazilian stars as Racing Louisville FC midfielder Ary Borges, who led all NWSL players with three goals during the 2023 Women’s World Cup , leads her team against the Orlando Pride, backed by five Brazilian internationals, including legendary soccer icon Marta.  

The NWSL+ doubleheader continues at 7 p.m. ET as the North Carolina Courage host the Houston Dash at WakeMed Soccer Park in a matchup featuring two of the NWSL’s best defenses from last season. The Dash, led by reigning Goalkeeper of the Year Jane Campbell, allowed just 18 goals in 2023, the lowest total across the league, while Defender of the Year finalist Kaleigh Kurtz and the Courage had the second-lowest clip with 22 goals conceded. 

Scripps-owned ION will air the return of Utah Royals FC to the NWSL as the club takes on the Chicago Red Stars at America First Field at 7:30 p.m. ET to round out the opening day match slate. ION will provide season-long doubleheader action on Saturday nights as part of the platform’s coverage of the league.  

Opening week concludes on Sunday with a freshly rebranded Seattle Reign FC facing the Washington Spirit, whose roster includes five players selected in the 2024 NWSL Draft, at Lumen Field and on NWSL+ at 6 p.m. ET before Bay FC takes the field against Angel City FC for its inaugural match in the NWSL. Match coverage for Angel City-Bay FC at BMO Stadium begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on NWSL+.  

FAMILIAR FACES IN NEW PLACES  

The NWSL’s second offseason with free agency opened the door for plenty of player movement across the league. Notably, Gotham FC signed four U.S. Women’s National Team veterans in defenders Crystal Dunn and Tierna Davidson as well as the former Reign midfield tandem of Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett.  

Elsewhere across the league, former Angel City midfielder Savannah McCaskill signed a three-year contract with Southern California rival San Diego Wave FC. With Dani Weatherholt signing with North Carolina, Angel City filled the gap in its midfield with the acquisition of Rocky Rodríguez in a trade with Portland. The LA-based club’s biggest move of the offseason came in January when they traded with Orlando for rookie sensation Messiah Bright. 

A draft night trade between Chicago and Washington sent Spirit ironwoman defender Sam Staab to the Red Stars in exchange for the third overall pick. The Spirit also parted ways with midfielder Ashley Sanchez on draft night, trading her to North Carolina to acquire the fifth overall pick.  
  
Earlier in the offseason, big names were traded as clubs sought protection from the 2024 NWSL Expansion Draft, including goalkeeper Mandy Haught, who joined the Royals after winning the 2023 NWSL Championship with Gotham FC. 

YOUTH MOVEMENT  

Building on last year’s youth movement in the league, the NWSL boasts an impressive collection of elite young talent ahead of this year’s kickoff, including three 2024 draftees who were recently called up to the U.S. Under-20 Women’s Youth National Team in No. 1 overall pick and Utah Royals forward Ally Sentnor, Bay FC defender Savy King (No. 2 overall) and Orlando Pride midfielder Ally Lemos (No. 9 overall). The U.S. roster also included Angel City FC defender Gisele Thompson, Kansas City Current midfielder Claire Hutton and North Carolina Courage midfielder Riley Jackson, who all forwent their college eligibility to sign professional contracts last year.  

Thompson, who recently signed her first professional contract with Angel City, also spent time training with the senior team this offseason alongside her older sister and club teammate Alyssa Thompson, who has nine USWNT caps.  

San Diego Wave FC forward Melanie Barcenas and Kansas City striker Alex Pfeiffer, alongside 2023 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year and latest Angel City signing Kennedy Fuller, also appeared in the U.S. national team circuit, helping the U-17 squad win the 2024 Concacaf Women’s U-17 Championship title in February. Fuller claimed the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer. 

Teen sensations in Portland Thorns midfielder Olivia Moultrie and San Diego Wave forward Jaedyn Shaw, both of whom featured for the senior U.S. women’s national team at the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup, are back with their respective clubs after enjoying breakout seasons in 2023. Moultrie signed an extension in February, keeping the reigning U.S. Young Female Player of the Year with the Thorns through 2026.  

Other notable youngsters in the league include Washington Spirit midfielder Chloe Ricketts, who also boasts youth national team experience, Racing Louisville FC and New Zealand international Milly Clegg, North Carolina Courage midfielder and Challenge Cup Final MVP Manaka Matsukubo and 16-year-old Korean-American star Casey Phair, the youngest player to appear in the Women’s World Cup, who signed with Angel City in January.  

FROM ACROSS THE POND 

The 2023 offseason saw an unprecedented number of international stars join NWSL clubs from top-ranked teams around the world as part of the winter transfer window, highlighted by Zambian forward Racheal Kundananji, who arrived at Bay FC from Madrid for a world-record transfer fee. The expansion team’s inaugural roster also includes highly accomplished talents in Scottish defender Jen Beattie from Arsenal, Venezuelan midfielder Deyna Castellanos from Manchester City and Nigerian forward Asisat Oshoala from Barcelona.  

Racing Louisville FC brought in a trio of internationals, acquiring Colombian forward Elexa Bahr, 18-year-old New Zealand forward Milly Clegg and South African midfielder Linda Motlhalo. The NWSL also welcomed a trio of German internationals in defenders Marie Müller (POR), Maxi Rall (CHI) and Feli Rauch (NC), as well as South Korea’s all-time leading goal scorer in Reign midfielder Ji So-Yun.  

STOKING RIVALRIES 

An exciting opening week schedule is set to introduce fans to what will surely become one of the NWSL’s newest rivalries as Angel City hosts Bay FC in the first battle between the California-based opponents. San Diego Wave FC, the other club in the California trio, will face Bay FC in its version of the west coast rivalry on April 27.  

San Diego and Angel City are set to meet on May 23 to continue a SoCal clash that most notably broke an NWSL single-match attendance mark in 2022 when a sellout crowd of 32,000 filled the stands for a meeting between the pair at Snapdragon Stadium.   

The historic Cascadia rivalry between Seattle Reign FC and Portland Thorns FC will see both new and familiar faces in 2024. Alongside a pair of league MVPs in Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock and Thorns forward Sophia Smith, and veteran teammates Lauren Barnes and Christine Sinclair, this year’s match will also see the start of NWSL careers for Canadian star Jessie Fleming, Welsh defender Lily Woodham and Ji So-Yun.