By: NWSL Editor
Week 1 Preview: NWSL Pitch Notes

Below is a selection of moments to watch for and notes to know entering Week 1 of the NWSL’s 2024 campaign. Opening week match coverage begins Friday, March 15 as NJ/NY Gotham FC host San Diego Wave FC in the 2024 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. ET on Prime Video

Below is a selection of moments to watch for and notes to know entering Week 1 of the NWSL’s 2024 campaign. Opening week match coverage begins Friday, March 15 as NJ/NY Gotham FC host San Diego Wave FC in the 2024 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. ET on Prime Video



Thanks to the NWSL’s landmark domestic media rights agreements, fans will now be able to watch more than 120 matches across national platforms, including CBS, ESPN, Prime Video and Scripps-owned ION. The remaining matches will be available for free on NWSL+, the league’s first-ever domestic direct to consumer streaming platform.

See here for more details on how to watch the NWSL in 2024.


In addition to the start of the season, the NWSL announced the return of its heralded WE PLAY HERE marketing campaign with the call-to-action encouraging fans to Keep Up! Leaning into the one-of-a-kind athleticism, competition and emotion of professional women’s soccer, it also captures the momentum of the league’s 12th campaign with four new broadcast partners, two new teams, and the unveiling of the first-ever stadium built specifically for women’s professional soccer.


The NWSL’s historic 12th campaign kicks off on Friday with the 2024 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup between 2023 NWSL Champion NJ/NY Gotham FC and San Diego Wave FC, winner of the 2023 NWSL Shield, presented by CarMax. The match, which does not count towards regular seasons standings, kicks off at 8 p.m. ET at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, airing live on Prime Video. Both clubs begin their respective regular season campaigns next week, as the Wave host the Kansas City Current on Saturday, March 23 for a 10 p.m. ET kickoff on ION. Gotham FC will take on Portland Thorns FC on the road on Sunday, March 24 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.


The Kansas City Current will make history on Saturday, opening CPKC Stadium, the first purpose-built stadium for women’s sports. The 11,500-seat venue will host the first regular-season matchup of 2024 in a rematch of the 2022 NWSL Championship between the Current and Portland Thorns FC. The regular season opener is reminiscent of the first-ever NWSL match in 2013 between FC Kansas City and the Portland Thorns in Overland Park, Kansas. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski, hired by the Current this offseason, coached an FC Kansas City roster that featured midfielder Desiree Scott, now with the Current, and defender Becky Sauerbrunn, now with the Thorns. Scott and Sauerbrunn matched up against Portland’s Christine Sinclair, who has spent every season with the club since 2013, and Karina LeBlanc, now the Thorns’ general manager, in a 1-1 finish.


NJ/NY Gotham FC surrounded a Championship-winning core with elite talent in free agency, bringing in former Seattle Reign FC midfielders Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett, 2015 NWSL Most Valuable Player Crystal Dunn and former Chicago Red Stars Tierna Davidson and Ella Stevens. Lavelle, Sonnett, Dunn and Davidson have all spent time with the USWNT, playing alongside new teammates Jenna Nighswonger, Midge Purce and Lynn Williams.

Angel City FC completed one of the biggest trades of the offseason, acquiring forward Messiah Bright, who scored six goals in her rookie season last year, from the Orlando Pride. Bright was a finalist for NWSL Rookie of the Year, presented by Ally, along with Angel City forward Alyssa Thompson, whose sister Gisele signed with the club in December, followed by 16-year-old South Korean forward Casey Phair, the youngest player to appear in the Women’s World Cup. With midfielder Savannah McCaskill joining rival San Diego Wave FC and Dani Weatherholt signing with the North Carolina Courage, Angel City acquired Rocky Rodríguez from Portland Thorns FC to fill the gap in Becki Tweed’s lineup.

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 and acquiring the fifth overall pick. However, the club took key pieces from both clubs in free agency, signing Red Stars defender Casey Krueger and Courage forward Brittany Ratcliffe.

ACROSS THE POND The offseason saw many international stars join the NWSL, including Zambian forward Racheal Kundananji, who joined Bay FC from Madrid CFF for a world-record transfer fee. Bay FC's inaugural roster also includes Scottish defender Jen Beattie, Venezuelan midfielder Deyna Castellanos and Nigerian forward Asisat Oshoala. 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 pair of German national team defenders, as Maxi Rall signed with the Chicago Red Stars and Feli Rauch joined the North Carolina Courage.



Five head coaches will make their NWSL debuts this weekend, including former Utah Royals captain Amy Rodriguez, who will coach the club’s first NWSL game since 2020 against first-year head coach Lorne Donaldson and the Chicago Red Stars at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Rodriguez could become the first former NWSL player to win her first match as a head coach, though she’ll have competition from Racing Louisville FC’s new coach Bev Yanez, a two-time NWSL Shield winner, who takes on the Orlando Pride earlier that evening at 4 p.m. ET. New Houston Dash head coach Fran Alonso makes his NWSL debut against the North Carolina Courage, and Adrian González leads the Washington Spirit against Seattle Reign FC, serving as an interim head coach for the newly appointed Jonatan Giráldez. NWSL coaches have an all-time record of 14-18-21 in their league debuts, including acting and interim head coaches. Though Bay FC’s Albertin Montoya served as an interim head coach for the Spirit in 2022, this year will be his first full season in the role. Angel City’s Becki Tweed took over as the club’s interim head coach in June last year, and 2024 will be her first season without the interim tag.


399 NWSL players have scored in regular season play, starting with former FC Kansas City forward Renae Cuéllar on April 13, 2013, in the league’s first match. The next player to score their first goal will be the NWSL’s 400th goal scorer. The Kansas City Current, who signed 16-year-old forward Alex Pfeiffer this offseason, play the first regular season match of 2024. An opening goal from Pfeiffer would also make her the league’s youngest goal scorer in regular season history at 16 years, three months and 19 days, breaking the record currently held by her opponent this week, Thorns midfielder Olivia Moultrie.



Angel City FC’s home opener against expansion side Bay FC was rescheduled from its original March 16 date. The match will now take place on Sunday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET, airing live on NWSL+.


Washington Spirit forward Trinity Rodman and Utah Royals FC goalkeeper Mandy Haught will both serve red card suspensions that carried over from last season during opening week.


Friday, March 15***

NJ/NY Gotham FC vs. San Diego Wave FC | Red Bull Arena | 8 p.m. ET | Prime Video *Challenge Cup does not count towards regular season standings

Saturday, March 16

Kansas City Current vs. Portland Thorns FC | CPKC Stadium | 1 p.m. ET | ABC Racing Louisville FC vs. Orlando Pride | Lynn Family Stadium | 4 p.m. ET | NWSL+ North Carolina Courage vs. Houston Dash | WakeMed Soccer Park | 7 p.m. ET | NWSL+ Utah Royals FC vs. Chicago Red Stars | America First Field | 7:30 p.m. ET | ION

Sunday, March 17

Seattle Reign FC vs. Washington Spirit | Lumen Field | 6 p.m. ET | NWSL+ Angel City FC vs. Bay FC | BMO Stadium | 7:30 p.m. ET | NWSL+

NWSL Pitch Notes