Tuesday, September 27, 2022

NWSL playoff picture, standings, tiebreakers: San Diego makes postseason run while Chicago still holding on

The 2022 NWSL regular season continues as several teams enter the final third of their game schedule. The playoff picture is starting to take shape as the year winds down. Some teams have slipped into the upper half of the table, while some are eyeing a playoff push. The league table can shift once more as NWSL action continues this weekend. Fans can watch NWSL games on Paramount+. 

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The top six teams will head to the playoffs, with the first and second seeds earning a first-round bye to the semifinals as hosts. The third and fourth seeds will host the fifth and sixth seed in a quarterfinal round, where the winners will compete in the semifinals for a spot in the 2022 NWSL Championship final. 

Let’s take a look at the standings, possible playoff scenarios, and which teams are on the brink of elimination:

League standings

1. Portland Thorns FC (28 pts) — Playoff standing

2. Houston Dash (28 pts) — Playoff standing 

3. San Diego Wave FC (25 pts) — Playoff standing 

4. Kansas City Current (25 pts) — Playoff standing 

5. OL Reign (24 pts) — Playoff standing 

6. Chicago Red Stars (23 pts) — Playoff standing 

7. Angel City FC (21 pts) — Outside looking in

8. Orlando Pride (18 pts) — Outside looking in

9. Racing Louisville FC (14 pts) — Long shot

10. Washington Spirit (12 pts) — Lifeline

11. NJ/NY Gotham FC (12 pts) — Lifeline

12. North Carolina Courage (10 pts) — Lifeline

Note: Tiebreakers are decided first by greater goal difference across regular season, then most total wins, then most goals scored. There are a possible seven tiebreaker scenarios for teams, and as listed in order

  1. Greater goal difference across the entire regular season (against all teams, not just tied teams).
  2. Most total wins across the entire regular season (against all teams, not just tied teams).
  3. Most goals scored across the entire regular season (against all teams, not just tied teams).
  4. Head-to-head results (total points) between the tied teams.
  5. Head-to-head most goals scored between the tied teams.
  6. Least disciplinary points accumulated across the entire regular season (against all teams, not just tied teams).
  7. Coin flip (if two teams are tied) or drawing of lots (if three or more teams are tied).

Viewing info

Let’s take a look at the games this weekend:

Friday, August 19

  • Kansas City Current vs. Angel City FC, 8 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday, August 20

  • NJ/NY Gotham vs. Orlando, 7 p.m. ET (Paramount+)

  • North Carolina Courage vs. Chicago Red Stars, 7 p.m. ET (Twitch)

  • San Diego Wave FC vs. Houston Dash, 10 p.m. ET (Twitch)

Possible playoff matchups

Here’s a final look at the playoff picture as the season continues this weekend:

  • No. 1 Portland Thorns FC – bye to semifinal
  • No. 2 Houston Dash vs. bye to semifinal
  • No. 3 San Diego Wave FC vs. No. 6 Chicago Red Stars 
  • No. 4 Kansas City Current vs. No. 5 OL Reign

Portland Thorns FC on 11 game undefeated streak 

1. Portland Thorns FC (28 points: 7-1-7) 

  • Possible First-round matchup: Would earn bye to semifinal and host quarterfinal winner at Providence Park.

The Thorns are on an incredible run as they continue to navigate their second half of the season. The team has seven games remaining on the schedule, and are also currently in contention for the 2022 NWSL Shield. Forward Sophia Smith is having an MVP caliber year with the club, with 11 goals scored, tied with Alex Morgan for most goals to date this season. 

Houston Dash climbing the table

2. Houston Dash (28 points: 8-4-4)

  • Tiebreakers: Level on points with Portland, but in second place due to first tie breaker of greater goal differential across the regular season. 

  • Possible First-round matchup: Would earn bye to semifinal and host quarterfinal winner at PNC Stadium.

The Dash picked up another win against Gotham win on Wednesday, but it ultimately didn’t shake up first-place, as the Thorns have the goal differential tiebreaker. The Dash do have a chance to leap the standings if they can pick up a result against San Diego Wave FC on Saturday.

San Diego Wave FC slip to third place

3. San Diego Wave FC (25 points: 7-5-4) 

  • Possible first-round matchup: vs. 6 Chicago Red Stars

The Wave had a strong showing in the first half of their season, but have slipped in the standings after inconsistent results in their last five games. The club is still in a position to make the playoffs, which would be a first time achievement for an expansion side in the league during its first year. The team is on a two game skid at the moment, and one win in their last five matches, and are looking to bounce back against Houston this weekend. 

Kansas City Current keep on rolling

4. Kansas City Current (25 points: 7-4-4) 

  • Tiebreakers: Level on points with San Diego Wave FC but in fourth place due to first tie breaker of greater goal differential across regular season. 

  • Possible first-round matchup: vs. No. 5 OL Reign

The Current have been on an impressive run of form over the last several weeks, extend their undefeated streak to 10 games, winning five of their previous six games. Veteran midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta has been integral to the teams success in the middle third providing four goals and four assists this season. 

OL Reign try to gain ground in upper half of table

5. OL Reign (24 points: 5-1-3) 

  • Possible first-round matchup: vs. No. 4 Kansas City Current

OL Reign have managed to play their way back into the upper half of the table as they navigated the second half of the season. A series of trades by the franchise to bring Canadian International Jordyn Huitema, and USWNT veteran Tobin Heath into the mix could propel the team higher into the standings, but constancy will be key for the team with six games remaining in their season. 

Red Stars clinging to sixth place

6. Chicago Red Stars (23 points: 6-4-5) 

  • Potential first-round matchup: vs. No. 3 San Diego Wave FC

The Red Stars aren’t the only team slipping in the standings, but they are the only team hanging onto a final playoff spot with an already slim roster that continues to take more injury hits with no signs of front office movement during the transfer window. 

The team is thin at defensive back, and has been without several players throughout the season due to various injury, including a recent ankle injury to Arin Wright. Additional woes could be looming for the team as well with their leading goal scorer Mallory Pugh dealing with right knee inflammation. 

Angel City FC, Orlando Pride making playoff push

7. Angel City FC (21 points: 6-5-3)

  • Playoff perspective: one spot away from a final playoff slot, two points behind possible sixth place standing, with the Red Stars holding the first tie breaker for goal differential across the regular season.

The team has eight games remaining in their inaugural season, and the club has also has a chance to make history as an expansion side if they make the playoffs in their first season. The team hasn’t quite been able to establish themselves in the second half of the season with inconsistent results. 

8. Orlando Pride (18 points: 4-5-6)

  • Playoff perspective: two spots away from a final playoff spot, five points out from a possible sixth place standing with Angel City and Chicago Red Stars holding first tie breakers for goal differential.

The team is on a recent six game undefeated streak under current interim head coach Seb Hines. The club also made recent moves with additions to their front and back lines acquiring Haley Hanson and Ally Watt in trades with Houston Dash and OL Reign respectively. 

Brink of elimination

9. Racing Louisville FC (14 points: 2-6-8) 

Racing has a mix of veteran players and a young core to build around, and perhaps have one eye on the standings and another on next season. The club has been active in the trade window, making moves three for second and fourth-round picks in the 2023 NWSL draft, two international roster slots, $375,000 in allocation money and recently signed Chinese international Wang Shuang.

10. Washington Spirit (12 points: 1-6-9) 

The reigning 2021 Champions have struggled throughout the entirety of the regular season, with nine draws, and only one win to show for their troubles. The team is also running out of time to make a realistic playoff push with only six games remaining on their schedule.

11. NJ/NY Gotham FC (12 points: 4-10-0) 

The team recently named Hue Menzies as interim head coach after a mutual dismissal of former head coach Scott Parkinson. The team has eight games left in their season, but are currently on a five game losing streak.

12. North Carolina Courage (10 points: 2-6-4) 

After winning the 2022 Challenge Cup the team failed to gain any traction in the regular season and have been in or near last place through the majority of their season. The team has bright spots in first year NWSL players Kerolin and Diana Ordoñez, but currently winless in their last six games. They are the only club with ten games remaining in their season.

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