The 2016 NWSL Championship featuring the Washington Spirit and the Western New York Flash will take place at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 9 from BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Here are five things to know about the 2016 NWSL Championship:
Thrilling Semifinals Set up the Stage
The Washington Spirit and Western New York Flash earned their way into the NWSL Championship via a pair of thrilling semifinal matches that saw both games go to extra time to decide a winner. Washington created its winning goal in the second extra time period while Western New York added two goals in their first 15 extra minutes of play to earn the victory.
For Club and Country
Five U.S. Women’s National Team players will participate in the game. Four that have been called-up to the WNT October camp roster – Washington Spirit’s Crystal Dunn and Western New York’s Abby Dahlkemper, Samantha Mewis and Lynn Williams – plus 2015 Women’s World Cup champion and 2016 Olympian Ali Krieger.
First NWSL Championship for the Winner
With two-time champions FC Kansas City (2014, 2015) and 2013 NWSL champion Portland Thorns not in Houston, the trophy will belong to someone else for the first time. Whoever wins will be the third different team in league history to claim the title and it would represent the first NWSL title in the club’s history. The Flash advanced to the championship match in 2013 but fell to the Thorns, while Spirit had never advanced past the semifinals.
Best XI and MVP
Several players taking the field on Sunday made the NWSL’s Second and Best XI, including Crystal Dunn and Ali Krieger (WAS; Second XI); and Jessica McDonald and Lynn Williams (WNY; Best XI). Additionally, Williams was crowned the league’s MVP this year, meaning the last two MVPs will share the field together on Sunday. Dunn won the award in 2015.
A Historic Year
2016 marked the first time a woman’s professional league reached a fourth season of play in the United States, a historic development for the growth of the sport in the USA and worldwide. The National Women’s Soccer League began in 2013 with eight teams: Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC, Washington Spirit and Western New York Flash. In 2014, the Houston Dash joined the league to make it nine, followed by the Orlando Pride in 2015 to up the number of teams to 10.