USWNT REWIND: Wave Punch Ticket to NWSL Playoffs

San Diego Wave FC became the first team to clinch a spot in the 2023 NWSL Playoffs, beating reigning champions Portland Thorns FC 2-0 on Saturday night on the road at Providence Park. The Thorns entered the game first in the league standings with 32 points but could not halt a fast start by the visitors from Southern California. The Wave opened the scoring in the 20th minute when 18-year-old attacker Jaedyn Shaw, who earned her first call-up to the U.S. Women’s National Team during the September international window, played a perfectly weighted cutback pass to the top of the 18-yard-box for a one-time finish by Ireland international Kyra Carusa. It was the third assist of the season for Shaw, who also has five goals during the regular season. After tallying two assists in the USWNT’s September wins over South Africa, Alex Morgan netted a goal of her own in the 38th minute, timing her run well into the penalty area and outjumping her defender to flick home header off a driven service. It marked Morgan’s sixth goal of 2023.


San Diego withstood a strong push for a comeback by the Thorns in the second half to earn the victory away from home and move to the top of the league standings with two games left to play. Portland drops to second in the standings, but is still well-positioned for a first-round bye – and home field advantage – in the upcoming NWSL Playoffs. 

NJ/NY Gotham FC remain third in the standings on 30 points following a 2-0 defeat to the Houston Dash on Sunday evening at Red Bull Arena. Despite being outshot by Gotham 23-7 on the day, Houston capitalized on its chances and took a 2-0 lead behind goals from Nigerian international Michelle Alozie in the 45+5th and 67th minutes. Gotham had the opportunity to pull one back late in second half stoppage time after they were awarded a penalty kick following a foul in the penalty area but could not convert from the spot. Houston moves to eighth in the table, two points back of the playoff line.

Later on Sunday night, OL Reign and the North Carolina Courage played to a 1-1 draw at Seattle’s Lumen Field. The Reign struck first in the 21st minute as Megan Rapinoe, who played the final game of her 17-year international career with the U.S. Women’s National Team on September 24, served in an in-swinging corner that found Bethany Balcer for the back post header and score. The Courage equalized late in the first half as Brazilian international Kerolin got in behind the Reign defense and finished on the break to level the game 1-1 in the 43rd minute. Just minutes later, the Reign suffered another blow as defender Alana Cook was shown a red card for a last defender foul, forcing OL to play with 10 for the second half. Despite being shorthanded, OL withstood a barrage of attempts by the Courage and the game ended in a 1-1 draw. With a point apiece, the Courage held on to fourth in the standings with 29 points while the Reign dropped to the sixth and final spot with 28 points.

The Washington Spirit snapped a seven-game winless streak with a dramatic 2-1 come-from-behind win over the Kansas City Current on Saturday night at Audi Field. Coming off an impressive road win over the Wave before the international break, the Current took the lead in the 21st minute as Brazilian international Debinha converted her attempt from the penalty spot following a foul by the Courage in the box. In a tale of two halves, the Spirit flipped the script in the second, drawing level in the 52nd minute off a goal from Ouleymata Sarr, followed by a game-winner from Trinity Rodman in the first minute of second-half stoppage time. Rodman, who scored in each if the USWNT’s September wins over South Africa, continued her strong run of play by racing in behind the defense and scoring with a left-footed blast at the near post. It was her fifth goal of the season.


With three points secured, Washington moves into fifth in the table with 29 points while the Current drop back to 12th.

The Orlando Pride continued their playoff push with a 1-0 road win over Angel City FC on Monday night, picking up their second win in as many games. Brazilian international Adriana netted the game’s only goal in the 22nd minute and the Pride withstood a barrage of shots and crosses from Angel City to come away with the victory. The Pride are now seventh in the standings with 28 points, level with the Reign on points but trailing on goal differential. Angel City is in ninth with 25 points.

In yet another dramatic finish, the Chicago Red Stars staved off playoff elimination with an emphatic 1-0 win over Racing Louisville FC on Saturday evening in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Red Stars took a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute but the real heroics of the day belonged to the Chicago defense, which withstood 22 shots and 21 corner kicks from Louisville to keep the clean sheet. Eight minutes into second-half stoppage time defender Casey Krueger made a game-saving goal line clearance, sprinting back and sliding to clear the ball to safety. Just minutes later, Tierna Davidson bravely won her duel in the box, putting her body on the line to preserve the victory for the team, but had to leave the game after suffering a kick to the face while clearing the ball.


The Red Stars, 11th in the standings, are now level with 10th-place Louisville at 24 points each.

While two games remain in the NWSL regular season, reigning FA Women’s Super League champions Chelsea FC kicked off the 2023-24 campaign in England with a 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday at Stamford Bridge. Forward Mia Fishel, who earned her first cap with the USWNT on September 24 in Chicago, made her Chelsea debut even more memorable, starting and scoring the game’s opening goal in the 28th minute. The 22-year-old Fishel headed home a cross to open her Chelsea campaign after spending the first two years of her professional career with Tigres UANL where she became the first foreign born player to lead the Liga MX Femenil in scoring, doing so during the 2022 Apertura. Chelsea hopes its other American signing, Catarina Macario, will be ready to make her debut in blue soon.


In France, Olympique Lyon picked up an important 1-0 win over rivals Paris Saint-Germain to improve to 2W-0D-0L on the young season. Lindsey Horan played the full 90 minutes in midfield for the reigning champions, who are seeking their 17th league title.

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

Friday, October 6
NWSL Regular Season: Racing Louisville FC vs. Orlando Pride 7:30 p.m. Paramount+
NWSL Regular Season: OL Reign vs. Washington Spirit 8:00 p.m. CBS
Saturday, October 7
NWSL Regular Season: Portland Thorns FC vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC 5:00 p.m. Paramount+
NWSL Regular Season: North Carolina Courage vs. San Diego Wave FC 7:00 p.m. Paramount+
NWSL Regular Season: Kansas City Current vs. Chicago Red Stars 8:00 p.m. Paramount+
Sunday, October 8
FA Women’s Super League: Manchester City vs. Chelsea FC 7:30 a.m. Paramount+
D1 Féminine: Olympique Lyon vs Bordeaux 3:00 p.m. Ata Football/DAZN
NWSL Regular Season: Houston Dash vs. Angel City FC 7:00 p.m. CBS Sports Network