Earlier today, NWSL commissioner Jessica Berman announced that Gotham FC will host the San Diego Wave at Red Bull Arena in the reformatted 2024 NWSL Challenge Cup. The single-match cup game will take place on Friday, March 15, 2024, and will be televised on Amazon Prime.
The NWSL regular season begins the following day.
Fans who pre-register for Challenge Cup Priority Ticket Access by using this link will be able to purchase tickets on Sunday, January 24, 2024. General ticket sales will begin on Monday, January 25. Gotham season ticket holders already have seats included in their membership.
Gotham will field a dramatically different team than the one that won the 2023 NWSL Championship. Gotham added four superstar players, marquee signings who could transform an already strong squad into the league’s superteam. They are defender Tierna Davidson, defender Emily Sonnett, midfielder Rose Lavelle, and forward Crystal Dunn. The four were introduced at a press conference held earlier today at the Rainbow Room on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center in New York City.
All four play together regularly on the USWNT, and they represent one of the strongest influx of talent in the history of the club — if not the league.
Gotham also lost some notable players. Gone are goalkeeper Mandy Haught (Utah Royals), defender Ali Krieger (retired), defender Ellie Jean (Bay FC), midfielder Kristie Mewis (West Ham United), forward Ifeoma Onumonu (Utah Royals), and forward Imani Dorsey (Utah Royals).
A new-look Challenge Cup
Starting this year, the Challenge Cup will be a one-and-done match between the previous season’s winners of the NWSL Shield (the team with the best regular-season record), and the NWSL Championship (the team that won the postseason tournament). In other words, the Challenge FA Community Shield in England, in which the previous season’s winner of the Premier League faces the winner of the FA Cup.
The Challenge Cup only dates to 2020, when it was established as a short tournament to re-introduce the NWSL during the COVID-shortened season. All NWSL teams participated in the tournament during its first four years.
Until last year, the tournament superseded NWSL league games, with all Challenge Cup games taking place over consecutive weeks. In 2023, tournament games were distributed over the course of the season so that it was more like the US Open Cup or the FA Cup. That format was abandoned after just one year.
The single-game cup match in the 2024 NWSL Challenge Cup means that silverware will be lifted on March 15. Should San Diego win, it will be their first trophy in club history. Should Gotham triumph, it will be their second cup win in four months.
Correction: As detailed in the comments below, the San Diego Wave already have a trophy as they won the 2003 NWSL shield. That is why they qualify to compete in the 2024 NWSL Challenge Cup. We apologize for the error.