On Thursday, the NWSL announced new schedule changes for NJ/NY Gotham FC and the rest of the league for the 2024 season. The Bats might have won the Championship last month, but players will be back together and preparing for the new year before one knows it.
Like in 2023, the regular season will begin in March. Clubs like Gotham will begin their preseasons in late January. With the addition of two new teams, the season will begin about a week and a half earlier. Plus, the season is expanding to 26 games. This likely means each team will play one another twice, home and away.
The 26 games will be played over 25 weeks. Games will not occur during FIFA international windows or the 2024 Summer Olympics. This is the correct move, for it means teams will not lose their star players for regular season games.
There are changes to the schedule for Gotham FC and the NWSL
However, the NWSL Challenge Cup has changed to be a one-game trophy that will take place between the NWSL Champion and the NWSL Shield winner. As such, Gotham FC will open the year playing against the San Diego Wave. This will occur on Friday, March 15. The regular season will then begin on Saturday, March 16.
At the same time, that does not mean Gotham FC and everyone else will not play in a tournament. As of now, there are plans to play during the Olympics. Per the NWSL, they "will break from league play from July 15 to August 18" and play in a tournament with "international participants and all 14 NWSL clubs."
It seems the upcoming tournament will be similar to the Leagues Cup, which had MLS and LIGA MX teams. It is unknown which international clubs the NWSL will approach. Perhaps it will be teams from all around the world.
Finally, the NWSL playoffs will still start in the quarterfinals. The difference in 2024 is that there will be no bye to the semifinals, and eight teams will make the postseason. In some ways, this is good, but at the same time, over half of the league will play in the playoffs.
Nonetheless, the changes for the entire schedule are fantastic. An increase in regular season matches can lead to discussions of higher pay. The ladies are playing more games after all. The tournament during the Olympics is also a great idea. That will keep most of the league playing while some players try to get the Gold Medal for their country.
It will be interesting to see the actual schedule once it is released. NJ/NY Gotham FC will likely have another challenging year. It is believed the club will continue to grow. Hopefully, they can eventually become the best in the NWSL.