It has been a groundbreaking season for the National Women’s Soccer League. The start of the partnership with Lifetime, the launch of NWSL Media, competitive play on the field by some of the world’s best players, and a women’s pro league in the USA finishing its fifth season are all signs of fantastic growth. As the league and women’s soccer continues to grow in this country and worldwide, we look ahead to what promises to be some of the best playoff matches in league history. Before that, let’s look at the five final matches of the 2017 regular season, two of which will determine the seeding for the playoffs semifinals.
Saturday, Sept. 30
Portland Thorns vs. Chicago Red Stars – 3:30 p.m. ET (TV: Lifetime Game of the Week)
Two playoffs-bound teams meet on Saturday on national television as second-place Portland and third-place Chicago square off in a game that could be a preview of a semifinals clash. Even with a win, Allie Long, Lindsey Horan, Meghan Klingenberg, Tobin Heath and the Thorns will remain in second place and will await the third-place finisher for the playoff match on Oct. 7. However, for Christen Press, Alyssa Naeher, Julie Ertz, Casey Short, Morgan Brian and Sofia Huerta, a win is important as it would lock in their seeding heading into the postseason. A win would keep Chicago in third place and seal a match with second-place Portland in the semifinal. With a loss, combined with an Orlando win in its last game, would bump Chicago down to fourth place and into a semifinal match with first-place North Carolina.
The Thorns are unbeaten against the Red Stars in their last 10 meetings (4W-6D). Portland has won three straight games against Chicago, including both games this season. Chicago is unbeaten in its last seven road games (3W-4D), a franchise record.
Washington Spirit vs. Seattle Reign – 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 close out their season against Megan Rapinoe and the Seattle Reign. After making it to the championship game last season, Washington dropped to the bottom of the standings this year in what was an inconsistent year. Seattle made a late push for a postseason, but lost Rapinoe for several games late in the season as she recovered from minor knee surgery, and fell just short.
Since the start of 2015, Seattle has won four of the six regular season meetings against Washington (2L). Washington is winless in its last five home games, the second-longest streak in franchise history. The Reign have scored in each of their last four road games. Washington has conceded 27 goals in the second half of games this season, the most in the league. Seattle has scored 23 goals in the second half this year, the third most in the league. Megan Rapinoe is averaging 8.3 crosses/corner kicks per game, the most in the league.
Boston Breakers vs. Sky Blue FC – 7 p.m. ET (go90.com)
A season of rebuilding for Boston will conclude on Saturday when it hosts Sky Blue FC at Jordan Field. Rose Lavelle and the Breakers are coming off their first road win of 2017 last weekend, and will now take on Kelley O’Hara as the teams aim to finish the season on a high note.
Most notable from this match is that Sky Blue forward Samantha Kerr will be going for her 17th goal of the 2017, which would set an NWSL single-season record. Boston and Sky Blue have split the season series with each team taking a 1-0 win at home. Boston has gone winless in its last five home games (3W-2D), tied for the longest home winless streak in franchise history.
North Carolina Courage vs. Orlando Pride – 7:30 p.m. ET (go90.com)
It’s another game featuring two playoffs-bound teams on Saturday, Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper, Lynn Williams, Taylor Smith and the North Carolina Courage taking on Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris and the Orlando Pride. With the NWSL Shield and a No. 1 finish already secured, North Carolina will be looking to their semifinal opponent next weekend. If the Thorns win or tie, they will keep the Pride in fourth place. If Orlando wins, and Chicago loses to Portland, it would jump over the Red Stars into third place and into a semifinal clash with the Thorns.
The Courage and the Pride have split their two meetings this season, with each team winning their home game by a 3-1 score line. Orlando has won four of its last six road games (1L-1D). The Courage has 12 clean sheets this season, a league record for a single season.
Sunday, Oct. 1
FC Kansas City vs. Houston Dash – 6 p.m. (go90.com)
FC Kansas City may have missed the playoffs again this year but last weekend Becky Sauerbrunn, Sydney Leroux and FCKC played spoiler against Seattle on the road. This weekend the Blues return home to host Jane Campbell and the Houston Dash on Sunday’s lone game in the final match of the 2017 regular season.
Kansas City and Houston have split the season series so far with each team winning the away game. Kansas City has scored seven goals in their last four home games. They scored nine goals in their first seven games at home. The Dash had been held scoreless twice in their previous nine road games this year.
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.