The 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup semifinals kick off on Wednesday with the remaining four teams battling it out for a spot in the final. OL Reign will host Racing Louisville FC at Lumen Field as the Reign earned the top seed in the competition for a second consecutive year. This year’s tournament features the largest prize pool in league history with $1.1 million up for grabs as a sizeable portion goes toward the winners and runners-up. Fans can watch all the semifinal action on CBS Sports Network.
Here’s how to watch the big game:
- Date: Wednesday, Sept. 6 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
- Location: Lumen Field — Seattle, Washington
- TV: CBS Sports Network | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Players to watch
Elyse Bennett (OL Reign)
Head coach Laura Harvey has utilized the competition as an opportunity for rotation and a bit of bench depth flex during a long World Cup year. Bennett has featured in all six Challenge Cup games and is one of five goal scorers on the team during their tournament run. The Reign have split the attack, and no player has more than two goals in the competition, but Bennett leads the team in shots on goal with seven.
She’s also the team leader in total shots (12) and second in expected goals (1.26) in the Challenge Cup. She can be a poacher or an effective role player along the top line to set up teammates. She has generated three chances, and only three players on the team have created more chances. For a competition running concurrent to the regular season, she’s been a key figure for Harvey in the attack and will be relied upon during the semifinal.
Savannah DeMelo (Racing Lousiville FC)
Racing have a chance to earn some of their first NWSL hardware as they’re one step closer to the Challenge Cup final. If they lift the cup it will be with DeMelo in top tournament form. She’s the team’s leading goalscorer with three goals and earned the honors through three matches played. DeMelo helped set Racing on a path to the Challenge Cup semifinal before getting named to the U.S. women’s national team World Cup roster and is second on the team in shots on goal (four) in her three Challenge Cup appearances.
She provides Louisville with a strong presence on set pieces and has shown she can be a lethal threat on goal during free kicks and set up teammates on corners. As one of seven players on the team to provide an assist in the Challenge Cup, she’s a focal point for connectivity. DeMelo’s among the top six on the team for pass completion percentage into the final third (85.7%) and has the ability to quickly change match tempo.
The two sides have faced each other twice in the regular season with both matches ending in 2-2 scorelines. Will this be another match that ends in a draw? I think so — look for some late-night drama with penalties in play. Pick: OL Riegn advance on penalties 4-3 after finishing 1-1 in regulation.