Sky Blue FC will kick off the NWSL Challenge Cup on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET against OL Reign.

Rookie defender Kaleigh Riehl is raring to go.

“I’m just happy that we have this tournament,” she said. ”I think that the mindset is the same for any season, any tournament that you go into, you want to win. It looks a little different than what I expected, but we still have the same goal, and that’s to win it.”

NWSL veteran and Sky Blue newcomer McCall Zerboni echoed Riehl’s sentiments.

“I just want to thank all of our supporters for their patience and belief and for sticking with us through everything and being excited about this tournament,” she said. “It’s going to be a great year and it’s going to be a great tournament. Sky Blue has some great things coming ahead and I’m proud and happy to be a part of it.”

Results from the preliminary round will determine seeding for the knockout stage, which will start with the quarterfinals on July 17-18. With the Orlando Pride’s recent withdrawal from the tournament, all eight teams competing are guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinals. All games will be played at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah, with the semifinals and final to be played at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

“I think we’ve got such a good group of positive players and they are competitors,” said Sky Blue FC head coach Freya Coombe said. “It’s just a shame that we won’t be able to do it in front of our fans because we know what a good group they are, but I know that they’ll be watching from home and cheering us on.”


Sky Blue FC Challenge Cup preliminary round schedule

Tuesday, June 30: Sky Blue FC vs OL Reign, 10 p.m. ET
Saturday, July 4: Sky Blue FC vs Utah Royals FC, 12:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, July 8: Sky Blue FC vs Houston Dash, 10 p.m. ET
Monday, July 13: Sky Blue FC vs North Carolina Courage, 10 p.m. ET

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at