Make the Challenge Cup and Annual Tournament

The NWSL Challenge Cup needs to become a yearly event. Perhaps not in this specific format, but a tournament of some kind should be held every season. The opportunity for growth and exposure is far too big to pass up on, especially while the league itself it trying to grow.

The Challenge Cup has been doing a great job helping to shine a spotlight on players that may not otherwise get playing time. The experience of playing in important high steaks games, as well as the tournament atmosphere also goes a long way in helping to continue to develop players, including those looking to make national team rosters. The goalkeepers alone have provided enough entertainment value to make the price of CBSAllAccess worth it for a month. It has been and would continue to be a great opportunity for coaches to give their younger bench players the exposure they deserve, but won't get during the regular season, including of course the goalies.

Certainly, there would need to be a few tweaks to the tournament. To help build on the benefit of the exposure and experience it provides, it could be a preseason event, and like other leagues, it could potentially be open to other women's leagues, schedules permitting, once international travel is acceptable. Setting a tournament up would also help to encourage owners to create and find great facilities for their teams to play and practice in because once fans are able to attend events in person, the benefits of to hosting teams present a great opportunity to get fans in seats for multiple games a day (assuming they are not as far apart as this year's games). Playing on turf for all but the final 3 games may need to be changed, and certainly could be once COVID precautions are taken care of, as well as the scheduling issues.

The possibilities for success in the future are endless. If a team makes it out to California, there is ample opportunity to create new fan interest. Teams on the East Coast could host games together, and there could be minimal travel between cities like New York and DC opening up the excitement. Certainly, with such dedicated fans in Portland, there is no reason not to believe that there would be interest in attending all the games being played. Branching out and partnering with local facilities for housing and field would also help to generate connections and potential sponsorship opportunities as well that can only help to benefit the league.

While this is a big endeavor, and certainly hard to pull off, the fact that the NWSL has seemingly been so successful with their event thus far, there is little to no reason for them not to continue to develop and build on this idea.

Here's to the future of the Challenge Cup and the NWSL!