Washington Spirit unveils 2023 NWSL schedule


The Washington Spirit will open its 2023 season on March 26 against OL Reign at Audi Field, the first of a 14-game home slate that will be played entirely in Washington for the first time in club history.

The National Women’s Soccer League on Wednesday released the schedules for all 12 teams. The regular season starts March 25 and will end Oct. 15.

In total, teams will play 22 regular season games, facing each team once at home and once on the road. All of the Spirit’s regular season home matchups will be played on Saturdays or Sundays. Full broadcast details will be announced later this month.

The league will continue as the World Cup takes place in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to Aug. 20, pausing for two breaks ahead of the tournament (July 10-20) and after the group stage (Aug. 7-17).

The majority of games played during the World Cup will count for the Challenge Cup, the multistage tournament previously held in the preseason. The Spirit, which reached the final of last year’s Challenge Cup, will play its first Challenge Cup match April 19 at NJ/NY Gotham FC in Harrison, N.J.

Washington will host the defending champion Portland Thorns on Aug. 27 in its first match after the World Cup.

Spirit set to play all home matches at Audi Field under new deal

The Spirit struck a deal with D.C. United in December to play all its home games at Audi Field after splitting games the past two seasons between the soccer stadium in Washington, a 20,000-seat venue that opened in 2018, and the 5,000-seat Segra Field in Leesburg.

Last season, the Spirit averaged 8,914 fans in six regular season matches at Audi Field and 2,991 in five games at Segra Field. Players and coaches around the league had criticized the playing surface and lack of infrastructure in Leesburg.

“To put it plainly, [Segra Field] is the worst field I’ve probably ever played on, and the fact that we were professionals playing on that field is atrocious. It’s really exciting that we’re going to be at Audi,” defender Sam Staab said this week. “It elevates this club, it elevates the profile of the league, and it elevates all of us as individuals as well, because you want to see a great product in a great environment.”

Washington finished 11th in the league with a 3-9-10 record last season. This offseason, the club appointed Mark Parsons, a two-time NWSL Shield winner in Portland, as coach and brought in sports science expert Dawn Scott as head of performance, continuing its push for growth under owner Y. Michele Kang.

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