The 22-game NWSL regular season is on the books, and after a wild run in which teams vied for playoff placement and OL Reign finished atop the table thanks, in part, to a mistake of his bitter rival, the image of the playoffs. for the tenth season of the league is ready.
OL Reign and the Portland Thorns, whose squandered 3-1 lead against last-place Gotham FC cost the club a third NWSL Shield in club history, have earned the bye and will host the semi-final matchups. If they both move forward, they’d be on a crash course for a finale riddled with subplots.
However, many things stand in the way. First and foremost is the expansion of the San Diego Wave, the third seed led by league golden boot winner Alex Morgan (15 goals, one more than Portland and the lead on the US women’s national team). Sophia Smith). San Diego went 1-0-1 against Portland, its potential semifinal opponent, during the regular season.
However, if San Diego wants to reach the semifinals, it must defeat a Chicago Red Stars team that finished as league runner-up a season ago and cemented its playoff spot with a season-finale win against Angel City.
On the other side of the bracket, the Houston Dash made the playoffs for the first time and will head to Kansas City for a clash with the current one, missing a home game only because of goal difference. Both sides split their meetings with OL Reign (each went 1-1-0), who may have a third Shield in club history but are still in search of a first league championship.
The playoffs will resume after the international break, during which the United States women’s team will face England and Spain abroad. Of the 24 players Vlatko Andonovski selected for that camp, they came from NWSL playoff teams, and their clubs will be watching closely in hopes of avoiding an injury that could affect their title hopes. Morgan, however, is not among them, as he was delayed with a minor knee injury.
Here are the final standings of the six playoff teams and the NWSL playoff schedule (all times Eastern).
1. OL Reign (11-4-7, 40 points, +13 goal difference)
2. Portland Thorns (10-3-9, 39 points, +25 GD)
3. Wave of San Diego (10-6-6, 36 points, +11 GD)
4. Houston Dash (10-6-6, 36 points, +8 RPGs)
5. Current KC (10-6-6, 36 points, 0 GD)
6. Chicago Red Stars (9-7-6, 33 points, +6 GD)
QUARTER-FINALS – OCTOBER 16
Houston Dash vs. KC Current, 5 p.m.
San Diego Wave vs. Chicago Red Stars, 10 p.m.
SEMIFINALS – OCTOBER 23
Winner Portland Thorns vs. San Diego/Chicago, 5 p.m.
Winner of OL Reign vs. Houston/KC, 7:30 p.m.
FINAL – OCTOBER 29
NWSL Championship Game, Audi Field, Washington, DC, 8 p.m.
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