The National Women's Soccer League returns on Monday as the 2021 Challenge Cup continues with week 4 action. The competition is now an annual event, in its second year, and Portland Thorns FC have already secured their place in the 2021 Challenge Cup final winning the West division.
Six games are on the docket over the week, starting on Monday with 2020 Challenge Cup champions Houston Dash on the road against Kansas City NWSL. Gotham FC have a chance to lock up the East division on Tuesday with a win against Washington Spirit.
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Here's how to watch and what to know about the games this week:
Monday, April 26
- Racing Louisville FC vs. North Carolina Courage, 6 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
- Kansas City NWSL vs. Houston Dash, 8:30 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
Tuesday, April 27
- Washington Spirit vs. Gotham FC, 7 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
- OL Reign vs. Chicago Red Stars, 10 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
Saturday, May 1
- North Carolina Courage vs. Orlando Pride, 7:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Sunday, May 2
- Gotham FC vs. Racing Louisville FC, 12:30 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
- Houston Dash vs. Portland Thorns FC, 7:30 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
Houston and Kansas search for first win
Houston head coach James Clarkson has described this as a new era for the defending Challenge Cup champion Dash as they are now the team being chased after. After two scoreless draws, the team is out of contention to defend their title as Portland has secured the top spot in the West division with nine points.
Houston will welcome the return of their national team players from the international window as they hit the road against new expansion side Kansas City. KC NWSL are currently on the hunt for their first win in 2021 as well, and will look to veteran striker Amy Rodriguez to keep up her Challenge Cup scoring streak.
OL Reign try to spark attack
OL Reign will try to get the offense going against Chicago Red Stars Tuesday. The team has played two matches in the tournament and scored in Neither. While this is a group with strong individual attacking pieces, head coach Benstiti is still trying to evaluate the best looks across the attacking line in front of goal.
Both OL Reign and Chicago are on the hunt for their first win in the tournament. The Red Stars are winless in their last three matches, with two draws, and finally broke through on goal in their previous game against Kansas City NWSL.
Gotham FC could lock up the East with win
East division standings got a bit of a shake up as Gotham FC and Orlando Pride picked up wins during week 3 action. Gotham FC now sit on top of the group standings with six points and a win against Washington Spirit could put them in the driver's seat to the championship final against Portland Thorns FC.
A draw or loss and goal differential for Gotham opens the door for North Carolina with two games remaining for the Courage to pull ahead.