USWNT REWIND: Wave Win 2023 NWSL Shield, Playoffs Set After Dramatic Decision Day Results

The field for the 2023 NWSL Playoffs is set following an action-filled and drama-packed Decision Day in which all 12 teams kicked off simultaneously on the final match day of the regular season. San Diego Wave FC clinched the 2023 NWSL Shield with the most points by any team over the course of the 2023 regular with 37 from 22 matches (11W-4D-7L; +9 goal differential). Portland Thorns FC finished close behind in second with 35 points (10W-5D-7L; +10 goal differential). By virtue of their top-two finishes, the Wave and Thorns secured byes to the semifinal round and home field advantage with a spot in the championship match on the line. The quarterfinal round will feature four-seed OL Reign hosting five-seed Angel City FC (Friday, Oct. 20 at 10 p.m. ET) and three-seed North Carolina Courage hosting six-seed NJ/NY Gotham FC (Sunday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. ET).

In just its second year in existence, San Diego Wave FC claimed the 2023 NWSL Shield, capping off an impressive 2023 campaign with a 2-0 victory at home over Racing Louisville FC. The Wave entered Decision Day in second place, but quickly got to work doing what they could to control their own destiny. Attacker Jaedyn Shaw, who earned her first call-up to the U.S. Women’s National Team during the September international window, gave the Wave the lead in the 26th minute. The 18-year-old ran onto a pass from Alex Morgan and deftly cut the ball back to create a window and unleashed a low-right footed shot that skipped into the bottom right corner. The goal was Shaw’s sixth of the regular season and her ninth all-time in the NWSL, passing Mallory Swanson for the most goals scored by a teenager in NWSL history.


Leading 1-0 at the half, San Diego doubled its advantage just minutes into the second half as Morgan found the back of the net for her team-leading seventh goal of the season. Morgan collected the ball at the top of the 18-yard-box, skillfully evaded a defender and unleased a brilliant left-footed shot for her 60th career NWSL goal. Morgan closes out the 2023 NWSL campaign with seven goals and five assists, matching her most assists ever in an NWSL season.


The Portland Thorns entered the final weekend in first place but could not withstand the offensive onslaught from an inspired Angel City FC side playing at home and in search of the club’s first ever playoff appearance. Angel City downed the Thorns 5-1 at BMO Stadium to secure a fifth-place finish in the standings and punch its ticket to the playoffs. Angel City’s five goals scored marked the highest-scoring game across all competitions in franchise history and defender M.A. Vignola, who made her USWNT debut on September 21 in her hometown of Cincinnati, got the scoring started in the 36th minute with a powerful strike that flew inside the near post. It marked the third goal of the year for the 25-year-old outside back.


Angel City scored again in the 38th minute to take a 2-0 lead into the locker room and continued its momentum into the second-half. Vignola assisted a goal by forward Savannah McCaskill in the 47th minute and Sydney Leroux scored off a spectacular overhead volley in the 51st to give ACFC a four-goal advantage. Portland pulled one back in the 79th minute but Angel City response immediately with a goal in the 80th, assisted by forward Alyssa Thompson, to thwart any chance of a Portland comeback.

After missing out on the playoffs in 2022, the North Carolina Courage secured a third-place finish with a 1-0 win on the road over the Washington Spirit. The most pivotal stretch of the match came just before the half-hour mark when Washington forward Trinity Rodman was shown a red card in the 23rd minute following a tackle on Ireland international Denise O’Sullivan. The Courage seized on the momentum and scored two minutes later. Playing a woman down and facing one of the staunchest defenses in the league, Washington could not solve Courage defense and fell from fifth to eighth in the standing with the loss. Goalkeeper Casey Murphy recorded her ninth shutout of the regular season, tied for the most by any goalkeeper this season, helping North Carolina to its best regular season finish since winning three consecutive Shields from 2017-2019.

OL Reign secured its seventh playoff appearance in club history with a 3-0 win on the road over the Chicago Red Stars. Playing in the final regular season match of her career, Megan Rapinoe made the most of the occasion and ensured that her career with the Reign would last at least one match longer, scoring a brace to lift OL Reign into fourth in the league standings. After a scoreless first half of play, Rapinoe put the visitors from Seattle in front in the 47th minute, collecting the ball on the top-left corner of the box and cutting inside to unleash a low skipping shot that beat goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to the far post for her fourth goal of the season.


Three minutes later, Rapinoe added her second of the game, again scoring from the left side of the penalty box, this time careening her attempt off the far post and in for her 51st career NWSL regular season goal. Rapinoe, who has played the entirety of her NWSL career with the Reign, becomes the second player in league history to score 50+ goals with one club.


The Reign, who entered the weekend holding the sixth and final playoff spot, added one more goal in the 59th minute as Alana Cook picked out Wales international Jess Fishlock with a long ball behind the Red Stars defense. With the 3-0 victory, the Reign vaulted up to fourth in the standings and will now host their quarterfinal matchup against Angel City on Friday evening at Lumen Field.

The sixth and final spot in the 2023 NWSL Playoffs went to NJ/NY Gotham FC, who secured the all-important point at home with a 2-2- draw against the visiting Kansas City Current. Forward Midge Purce got Gotham off to a dream start with a goal just six minutes into the match, darting into the box after a Current turnover and finishing from close range for her fourth goal of the season.


Gotham doubled its advantage in the 15th minute, but Kansas City scored two unanswered goals in the 26th and 36th minutes to level things at 2-2.

Despite a 1-0 win over the Houston Dash, the Orlando Pride found themselves on the wrong side of the playoff line, finishing in seventh place with 31 points but a minus-1 goal differential. Brazilian legend Marta scored the game-winner for Orlando in the 87th minute, but the Pride miss out the playoffs due to the superior goal differential of Gotham (31 points, +1 GD) and Angel City (31 points, +1 GD).

In France, Lindsey Horan netted a hat-trick, her first for club or country since 2020, in Olympique Lyon’s 6-0 win over Saint-Etienne. Horan scored her first goal of the game in the 23rd minute off a header, also marking her first goal of the 2023-24 D1 Féminine campaign.


The U.S. co-captain scored again off a rebound in the 79th minute and closed out her hat-trick in the 85th with a well-timed volley. With the victory and the outpouring of goals, Lyon continues its perfect start to the league campaign and moves to first in the table on goal differential.


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

Friday, October 20
NWSL Quarterfinals: (4) OL Reign vs. (5) Angel City FC 10:00 p.m. Paramount+
Sunday, October 22
FA Women’s Super League: Chelsea FC vs. Brighton & Hove Albion 9:00 a.m. FA Player
D1 Féminine: Stade de Reims vs. Olympique Lyon 3:00 p.m. Ata Football/DAZN
NWSL Quarterfinals: (3) North Carolina Courage vs. (6) NJ/NY Gotham FC 5:00 p.m. CBS Sports Network