USWNT REWIND: Red Stars, Spirit Prevail in Semis, Set for Clash in NWSL Championship Match

And then there were two! After a pair of upset victories in the semifinals on Sunday, the Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars have advanced to the 2021 NWSL Championship match and will square off on Saturday, November 20 at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky (Noon ET on CBS). This will be just the second appearance in the title match for each club, with the Red Stars finishing runner-up in 2019 and the Spirit falling in penalty kicks in 2016, which also means a first-time champion will be crowned in Louisville.

Sunday’s semifinals kicked off in Tacoma with the second-seeded OL Reign hosting the red-hot Washington Spirit, who advanced to the penultimate weekend of play after a 1-0 overtime victory over the North Carolina Courage. The Reign quickly grabbed control of the match after a pin-point cross from Megan Rapinoe set up a finish for French international
Eugénie Le Sommer in the just the third minute. The goal was the fastest in NWSL playoff history, though OL’s lead would be short-lived, as U.S. youth international and NWSL Rookie of the Year candidate Trinity Rodman came up with the equalizer for Washington nine minutes later. While the Regin outshot the Spirit 23-13 on the day, Washington weathered the storm in a strong defensive effort led by the USWNT contingent of Andi Sullivan, Emily Sonnett and Kelley O’Hara. The Spirit’s resolve would be rewarded in the 68th minute as midfielder and recent-USWNT call-up Ashley Sanchez scored what proved to be the game-winning goal with a magical finish from a difficult angle. 


WATCH: Sanchez Scores Game Winner for Spirit


The Spirit held off late efforts from the Reign to secure the 2-1 victory and the club’s second ever trip to the NWSL Final. The win also extended the club’s unbeaten streak to an impressive 11-matches, the last six of which have all been wins. O’Hara, Sullivan and Sonnett all went the distance for Washington while Sanchez and fellow Australia trip invitee Ashley Hatch were subbed out in second half stoppage time. Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle and defenders Alana Cook and Sofia Huerta, who earned her first USWNT call-up since 2018, all went 90 minutes for the Reign while forward Bethany Balcer, who was also named to the USWNT’s BioSteel Training Camp Roster for the upcoming matches in Australia, gave OL 24 minutes off the bench. 


The action remained in the Pacific Northwest for the second semifinal of the day with 2021 NWSL Shield winners Portland Thorns FC hosting the four-seed Chicago Red Stars. Much like the earlier match in Tacoma, the underdogs prevailed with a 2-0 victory at Providence Park. Katie Johnson put the visitors in front in the 28th minute with a phenomenal finish from an almost impossible angle and Sarah Woldmoe added an insurance goal in the 59th with an impressive strike from distance. On the other end of the field, Chicago’s defense – buoyed by center back Tierna Davidson - stymied Portland’s potent attack and recorded its third consecutive clean sheet across all competitions. Davidson went the distance in the win for the Red Stars while Becky Sauerbrunn and Sophia Smith played 90 minutes for Portland. November USWNT call-ups Bella Bixby (90 minutes) and Morgan Weaver (59 minutes) also featured for the Thorns.

While the NWSL semifinals were the focus in the States, marquee matches abounded across Europe over the weekend. U.S. Women’s National Team attacker Catarina Macario played a starring role in the featured match in France, scoring the opening goal and tallying an assist as Olympique Lyonnais beat rivals Paris Saint-Germain, 6-1, a match that historically has proven instrumental in deciding the French league champion. Macario’s impact was felt from the opening whistle and she quickly drew a penalty kick with a dashing run into the area. She converted the ensuing attempt from the spot to put Lyon in the lead in just the ninth minute.

WATCH: Macario Opens Scoring for OL



Macario added an assist in the 59th minute with a well-played corner that was headed home by Damaris Egurrola to make it 4-0. Macario also had a strong showing in mid-week Champions League outing, playing 90 minutes and assisting the game-winning goal in the 86th minute as Lyon came from behind to beat Bayern Munich, 2-1, in Group D action. Macario has either scored or assisted in six of her last seven matches for Lyon across all competitions and has five goals and four assists in seven club appearances since the start of October.


Information on upcoming matches featuring U.S. Women’s National Team players can be found below. All times listed are ET.


Wednesday, November 17

Bayern Munich vs Olympique Lyonnais

UEFA Women’s Champions League

3:00 p.m.


Arsenal vs. HB Koge

UEFA Women’s Champions League

3:00 p.m.


Saturday, November 20

Washington Spirit vs Chicago Red Stars

NWSL Final

12:00 p.m.


Sunday, November 21

Issy vs. Olympique Lyonnais

D1 Feminine

6:45 a.m.

Manchester United vs. Arsenal


7:15 a.m.


Go Deeper