NWSL Challenge Cup final preview
The GIST: One team will leave the pitch with glory (and a $1.1M check) when the Challenge Cup tournament takes a final bow in tomorrow’s 12:30 p.m. ET championship showdown between the reigning champ North Carolina Courage and Racing Louisville FC. Let’s go, girls.
The details: First things first — this is not the end-of-season NWSL Championship (which kicks off in November) or the NWSL Shield (awarded to the top regular-season team in the league). The Challenge Cup is a separate season-long tournament, providing the 12 NWSL teams a chance to compete for additional bragging rights (and prize money) outside of regular-season or postseason play.
- This year’s edition will reportedly be the final iteration of the tourney, which launched in 2020 as a way to get players back on the pitch during the pandemic.
- The tournament has notably been the subject of criticism throughout its existence, largely due to scheduling conflicts. Back to the drawing board, they go.
The matchup: The Courage locked in their finals spot with a 1–0 dub over the Kansas City Current on Wednesday. Two North Carolina players to know: USWNT rising star defender Emily Fox and Brazilian forward Kerolin, who’s currently tied for first in the Golden Boot race.
- Meanwhile, Louisville is fighting for their first-ever trophy after booking their title game ticket in Wednesday’s 1–0 upset of the star-studded OL Reign. This deep squad certainly knows how to play spoiler and will charge into battle led by another USWNTer: midfielder Savannah DeMelo.
- North Carolina is undefeated against Louisville in regular-season play this year, but both matches have been tight contests, setting up a superior clash tomorrow. Get those golazos, gals.