NWSL: Breaking down each team’s 2020 Challenge Cup outlook

NWSL (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
NWSL (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images). /
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NWSL (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images). /

The NWSL is returning for the 2020 Challenge Cup in Utah. With every team knowing who they will be facing, here is a breakdown of each team’s outlook.

The National Women’s Soccer League will become one of the first sports to return in the United States when the 2020 Challenge Cup taking place in Utah. While the plans to return have been official for some time now, every team now knows which teams await them in their return.

Each team will play four randomly drawn opponents in the preliminary round before eight of nine teams proceed to the knockout rounds. The first set of games begin on June 27 while the final is scheduled for July 26.

Although teams know who they will be playing in the competition, players can choose to opt-out with no punishment. So, we can’t be completely sure how team rosters will look like come match day. Nevertheless, with every team knowing who awaits them in 2020, here is a break down of each team’s chance to advance to the knockout round.

Chicago Red Stars
Bridgeview, IL – JULY 21: Chicago Red Stars forward Sam Kerr (20) celebrates scoring a goal with teammates in game action during a NWSL game between the Chicago Red Stars and the North Carolina Courage on July 21, 2019 at SeatGeek Stadium, in Bridgeview, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Chicago Red Stars

Last year’s runner-ups, the Chicago Red Stars have one of the more favorable routes in the preliminary round. The Red Stars play the first three matchdays of the competition and face the Orlando Pride, Utah Royals and Houston Dash. They then finish their four-game stretch against Sky Blue FC.

None of these teams made the playoffs last year. As a matter of fact, these were the four worst teams in the league with Orlando finishing dead last. Chicago was already one of the better teams in the league, although losing star striker Sam Kerr will certainly impact the goal scoring. Add on their easy draw, they should have no problem advancing to the knockout round and may even earn the number one seed.

Washington Spirit

The Washington Spirit have the youngest roster in the NWSL are ready to make the next step into the NWSL playoffs. Washington finished in fifth place in 2019 — one position away from the final playoff spot — after once being in first. The Spirit play OL Reign, Utah Royals, Portland Thorns and the Houston Dash.

The team has the dynamic midfield duo of Rose Lavelle and Andi Sullivan. They also picked up one of the best prospects in the 2020 NWSL draft Ashley Sanchez with the fourth overall pick. Washington has one of the tougher draws in the league, but their young talented team can withstand it and will absolutely be expecting to advance to the knockout rounds and even make a run at the title.