9am in Portland: Why is the 2021 NWSL Championship Game Early AF?

On Sunday, the NWSL announced that Providence Park, the home ground of the Portland Thorns, would be the site of the 2021 NWSL Championship game. The game will be played on Saturday, November 20th at 12pm ET and 9am local time. That is not a typo. Viewers inside the United States can watch the game on either Paramount+ or your grandma’s favorite cable channel CBS. International viewers can watch it on the NWSL Twitch channel.

The move has drawn a fair amount of criticism from players, fans, and pretty much anything that breathes and watches the NWSL (animals and the undead were unavailable for comment). The biggest question marks about this choice are how was Portland selected and why was 9am local time selected as when the game would be played?

The 2021 NWSL Championship Location Explained

According to various outlets reporting on the situation, the NWSL has a bidding process where teams have to bid to host the NWSL Championship game each year. Other leagues with single game championships have different models. The MLS Championship game is hosted by the finalist with the best record. The NFL picks what city the Super Bowl will be in and then the host city has to accept or decline.

It has been confirmed that Louisville and Orlando both submitted bids with Portland and then later withdrew them. That may have been a blessing in disguise for the NWSL though because neither Florida or Kentucky are really taking COVID-19 very seriously.

The NWSL Championship Time Explained

As to why the game is at 9am local time, the answer is fairly simple. Money and location. The exact conversation is unavailable for transcription but sources familiar with getting the bag report that CBS essentially told the NWSL the college football bag is too large to mess up and if the NWSL wanted to broadcast the NWSL Championship game on cable it would have to be before the college football games started that afternoon.

For most of us that would have meant that the game would have to be played in the Eastern Time zone or the Central Time zone at the worst, but the Mountain Time and Pacific Time would be out the question because of logistics, player convenience and safety, and so on. However, the NWSL isn’t most of us so no alternative arrangements were made for finding a different venue and the game is in Portland at 9am.


It is highly unlikely that CBS changes this time slot so the only other resolution to this situation is if the NWSL finds venue in either the Eastern or Central Time zones to host the NWSL Championship game. That seems unlikely at this point.

NWSL Championship 2021

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