The 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup continues Saturday as clubs close out group play in the tournament. OL Reign are the only team to have clinched a spot in the semifinals, and three spots remain in play as teams try to advance into the knockout round. Fans can watch 2022 Challenge Cup games live and on demand with Paramount+.
Saturday features the North Carolina Courage against NWSL 2021 Champions Washington Spirit to determine first place in the East Region, as NJ/NY Gotham FC host Orlando Pride, and San Diego Wave FC face OL Reign.
Sunday concludes group play as the Kansas City Current host the Chicago Red Stars in a battle for first place of the Central Region. Angel City FC face Portland Thorns FC and the Houston Dash meet Racing Louisville FC to close out the tripleheader.
Group winners and the top second-place finisher will participate in the semifinals to determine two cup finalists to play in the Challenge Cup final on May 7.
Here's how you can watch the upcoming matches this weekend:
Saturday, April 23
- North Carolina Courage vs Washington Spirit Saturday, 1 p.m. (CBS)
- Gotham FC vs Orlando Pride, 7 p.m. (Paramount+)
- San Diego Wave vs OL Reign, 10 p.m. (Paramount+)
Sunday, April 24
- KC Current vs Chicago Red Stars, 5 p.m. (Paramount+)
- Houston Dash vs Racing Louisville, 6 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
- Angel City vs Portland Thorns, 9 p.m. (Paramount+)
What's at stake
East Region: The last time the Courage and Spirit faced off in the Challenge Cup the two sides played to a 2-2 draw, as the Spirit spearheaded a second half come back. This final group match between the two teams is a winner takes all scenario, although North Carolina could also clinch first place in the group and a spot in the semifinal with just a draw against the Spirit.
The Spirit could still advance into the semifinal as the best second place team in the event they draw against North Carolina but they would also need a loss by Portland and a loss or draw by the Chicago Red Stars.
Expect a show down on the flanks as the Courage's fullback duo of Carson Pickett and Merritt Mathias go head to head against Trinity Rodman, Anna Heilferty, and Ashley Sanchez. Rodman is currently tied for most goals in the tournament with four goals scored.
Central Region: Kansas City Current and Chicago Red Stars will square off to determine first place in the central region. A must win for the Red Stars if they want to advance into the semifinals, the club cannot advance as a best second place team based on their current 8 points in the group. Kansas City leads the region with 10 points and only need a draw against Chicago in order to clinch first place in the central division.
During their previous group stage match, Kansas City made a second half come back to win 2-1 on the road against Chicago. A victory from Chicago may depend on who they have available on after star forward Mallory Pugh exited last weeks' game under the concussion protocol, and midfielder Morgan Gautrat has been navigating a calf injury.
West Region: OL Reign are the only team to have clinched a spot in the semifinals with a match remaining in the Challenge Cup. They can advance as group winners with a win or draw against San Diego, or a Portland loss or draw -- the Reign can finish no worse than the best second place group team in the Challenge Cup.
Portland are the reigning Challenge Cup champions after defeating NJ/NY Gotham FC in 2021. If the Thorns are to advance out of the group the need a loss or draw from Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars. Both OL Reign and Portland Thorns FC have previous wins in Challenge Cup group play against San Diego Wave FC and Angel City FC.