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2020 Challenge Cup: The rules & regulations you need to know

With the start of the NWSL Challenge Cup starting this Saturday, we learn how it will all go down.

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

When the NWSL announced the Challenge Cup to be held in Utah, we wondered about its format, rules, regulations. Finally, today, with five days away, the league has released the deets.

*The league had to make changes to the schedule for the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup due to the Orlando Pride’s withdrawal due to positive cases among players and staff of COVID-19. The tournament will continue with an eight-team, 23-game tournament.

Here’s how the tournament will look:

  • The tournament will kick off with the preliminary rounds where each team will play four matches.
  • Two knockout stages and the final will follow, with all eight teams out of the preliminary rounds placed into a seeded bracket to contest the quarterfinals.
  • If two or more teams are tied on points after completion of the preliminary stage, the following criteria shall be applied to determine team rankings:
  1. Head-to-Head (only if two teams are tied and they’ve played each other);
  2. Superior goal difference in all preliminary matches;
  3. Greatest number of goals scored in all preliminary matches;
  4. Lowest team conduct score relating to the number of yellow and red cards obtained: yellow card - 1 point; indirect red card (as a result of two (2) yellow cards) - 3 points; direct red card - 4 points; yellow card and direct red card - 5 points

*Only one of the above point totals shall be applied to a player in a single match.

  1. Drawing of lots by NWSL
  • No extra time in any match played in the NWSL Challenge Cup.
  • In the knockout stage, if a match is tied at the end of regulation, kicks from the penalty mark shall be taken to determine the winner.
  • Teams will be allowed five (5) substitutions per match and no more than three (3) substitution stoppages per team will be allowed in each game.


Each team has named a final list of 22-28 players selected to participate in the NWSL Challenge Cup. Only the players on the submitted list will be permitted to play in the tournament. Players can join their teams late as long as they are included on the final rosters submitted to the league on June 21, 2020.

So...there’s a chance we may see Christen Press, after all. Probably not. We can hope, okay?

Update: No Christen Press after all, confirmed when the club released its 28-player roster.