After a pair of wins against New Zealand, the U.S. WNT players returned to their clubs and will play two (or in the case of North Carolina and Houston, three) games to wrap up the NWSL season. The first-place Courage has a chance to clinch its first NWSL Shield on Sunday with a win and a Portland draw or loss vs. the Pride. With only two weeks left in the regular season, here’s how things look as the finish line of the 2017 season approaches.
Saturday, Sept. 23
Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns – 3:30 p.m. ET (TV: Lifetime Game of the Week)
It’s a big game in Orlando for Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris as the Pride will look for a win to secure its spot in the postseason. Meanwhile, Allie Long, Lindsey Horan, Meghan Klingenberg, Tobin Heath and the Portland Thorns already have their ticket to the playoffs booked but are looking for three points on the road to earn back-to-back NWSL Shields.
Orlando is unbeaten in their last six home games (4W-2D), and has outscored opponents 18-5 over that stretch. Portland has won three of the last five road games (1L-1D). Orlando has scored 17 goals in the first half of games this season, tied for the second most in the league. Portland has conceded 10 goals in the first half of games this year, tied for the second fewest in the league. Portland has scored 14 goals from set pieces this season, the most in the league. The Pride have conceded 11 goals from set pieces, the third most in NWSL in 2017.
Washington Spirit vs. Boston Breakers – 7 p.m. ET (go90.com)
Coming off a goal and an assist with the WNT on Sept. 19, Mallory Pugh and the Washington Spirit will host Rose Lavelle and the Boston Breakers on Saturday afternoon. Lavelle, who is just getting back into game fitness after being sidelined for almost three months with a hamstring injury, is also coming off a special week where she played in front of friends and family on Tuesday night in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Washington and Boston played to a 2-2 draw on Aug. 12th. Washington has gone winless in their last four home games (2L-2D), while Boston is the only team yet to win on the road this year (7L-4D).
Houston Dash vs. Chicago Red Stars – 8:30 p.m. ET (go90.com)
With a win on Saturday night, the Chicago Red Stars will book their trip to the postseason. Christen Press, Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher, Casey Short, Morgan Brian and Sofia Huerta will take on the Houston Dash as they search to earn their consecutive NWSL Playoffs appearance.
The two clubs have split this year with one win each, with the Red Stars taking the most recent match, 2-0 on May 6. Houston has failed to score in their last two home games (2L). The last time they failed to score in three straight home games was April 29-June 19, 2016. Chicago is unbeaten in its last six road games (2W-4D).
Sunday, Sept. 24
Sky Blue FC vs. North Carolina Courage – 6 p.m. ET (go90.com)
It’s a big game for Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper, Lynn Williams, Taylor Smith and the North Carolina Courage as the No. 1 team in the league look to capitalize in their season-long success and clinch the NWSL Shield as the team with the best regular season record in 2017. A win for North Carolina against Kelley O'Hara in New Jersey plus a draw or loss for Portland vs. Orlando would guarantee the top spot for the Courage.
Sky Blue has conceded 21 goals at home, five more than any other team in the league. North Carolina has conceded multiple goals in two straight road games. Abby Dahlkemper has a total crossing accuracy of 59.3%, the highest rate of any player with multiple total crosses. She has sent in 113 total crosses this season, the second most in the league, partially a produce of her taking all the set plays from distance for her club.
Seattle Reign vs. FC Kansas City – 9 p.m. ET (go90.com)
If it hopes to stay in playoff contention, fifth-place Seattle Reign will need a win at home on Sunday evening against Sydney Leroux, Becky Sauerbrunn and FCKC and a little help from Portland and Houston. Megan Rapinoe and the Reign come into the weekend trailing Portland and Orlando by five points. If either of those teams loses or draws in their games, then Seattle will remain alive, but if they both win, then it will enter its Sunday game having already been eliminated from the playoffs.
Kansas City has gone unbeaten in their last three road games (2W-1D). In their previous five away games, they managed to pick up just one point (4L-1D). The Reign have scored nine goals in the 15 minutes leading up to halftime, tied for the most of any team in the league.
Watch NWSL on go90.com
To watch live in the USA on a mobile device or tablet, download the go90 app (free) via the App Store or Google Play. Users with go90 version 3.0 and later can cast live games from the go90 app to Airplay and Chromecast. No registration or authentication is required. Fans can also watch matches on their laptops via go90.com, nwslsoccer.com or on the NWSL app, now available for both iOS and Android users.
Internationally all games are available on the NWSL app and the NWSL website.
The complete 2017 NWSL schedule is here. For more in-depth information and the latest news and updates about the NWSL schedule, matchups, records, etc., visit: www.nwslsoccer.com and follow them on Twitter @NWSL.