This is why we love ‘Decision Day’ weekends. Where nothing is decided and there’s still all to play for, no matter which game you want to watch.
The NWSL regular season is set to finish on a high, with the NWSL Shield still up for grabs and four playoff spots still to be decided. Of the six playoffs spots, two are already chalked off by Portland Thorns FC and San Diego Wave FC. The two same teams heading into this weekend looking to be NWSL Shield winners.
The other four spots have eight teams all vying to finish in them; North Carolina Courage, NJ/NY Gotham FC, Washington Spirit, OL Reign FC, the Orlando Pride, Angel City FC, Racing Louisville FC and the Houston Dash. Of those eight teams, only the Dash have the hardest job of finishing in a playoff spot because while they are not mathematically out of it, they need to win their match and then hope everyone else around them loses by a big enough margin for them to sneak into the final spot.
Apart from the Dash, the seven teams above them all have something to play for this weekend and it sets up a delicious ending to the 2023 NWSL regular season.
Orlando Pride vs Houston Dash
With every game kicking off at the same time, there isn’t one match that’s more important that the other. This applies to the Orlando Pride vs the Houston Dash as well.
Orlando currently sit on 28 points, and one spot below the playoff spots while the Dash currently sit on 26 points and three spots away from the final playoff spot. For both teams to make the playoffs, the most important thing if for OL Reign to lose their match. After that, it’s up to them to control their destinies.
Orlando will make the playoffs if they beat Houston and OL Reign loses. Houston not only need to beat Orlando and have OL Reign lose their match, but they’ll also need the Reign to lose by a big margin so that the goal difference between the Dash and OL Reign is negated.
A tie does nothing for either side, even if OL Reign loses. The playoffs aren’t in the hands of either of these teams but they will go into this weekend’s match looking to win anyway, and hope for the best in the other game that concerns them the most.
Chicago Red Stars vs OL Reign FC
The game in question (from above) is the one that sees OL Reign travel to face off against last-placed Chicago. The Red Stars are out of the playoffs but are looking to end their season on the right note, even with the recent departure of head coach Chris Petrucelli.
This game however, will be more important for OL Reign. They know that a win, no matter what the score is, will guarantee them a spot in the playoffs, If they end up in a draw, they will need teams below them to slip up as well and if they lose, they will need even more teams below them in the table to not make up the points in their matches. They will also want to not end Megan Rapinoe’s final moments as a player with a bad result in Chicago, instead, they’ll want to expand her final season by at least one more game.
It’s simple for the Reign this weekend: win or go home.
NJ/NYGotham FC vs KC Current
Gotham FC are in a great spot coming into their final regular season match this weekend. A tie against the KC Current will be enough for them, even if goal difference could make it tricky for them in the end.
Should Gotham tie this game, it gives an opening for the Orlando Pride and Angel City FC to sneak into the playoffs right at the death. It won’t be easy for them but if word reaches the players that Gotham are either losing or currently tied, the teams in Orlando and Angel City will be galvanized to push for that playoff spot.
While KC are no longer in a position to make the playoffs, they, like Chicago, will be looking to end their season on the right note. Ali Krieger’s final regular season game would be a great moment for KC to play spoilers.
Angel City FC vs Portland Thorns FC
Speaking of Angel City, they have a massive home fixture against the Portland Thorns. Of all the games this weekend, this may be the most fascinating one to watch due to what’s at stake for both teams. Portland have qualified for the playoffs but will be looking to secure yet another NWSL Shield while Angel City know that anything less than a win limits their chances to make the playoffs.
Despite having a very poor start to the season, Angel City are within touching distance of a playoff spot but they’ll need help from Houston and Chicago. They’ll need Chicago to beat OL Reign and then they’ll need Houston to to tie, or lose by one goal and Angel City win their game by three goals to book their spot in the playoffs.
It’s set up to be a great match in front of what will be a loud audience in Los Angeles this Sunday.
San Diego Wave FC vs Racing Louisville FC
Like the Thorns, San Diego are in the playoffs and are battling to win the NWSL Shield. Louisville are also in a similar position to Angel City albeit with much more to do than them.
San Diego, as a second-year team, will be looking to mark their progress as a club by winning the Shield but they’ll need their southern rivals to do them a favour and make sure they win against Louisville this Sunday.
Racing Louisville, on the other hand, need a LOT of help. They need OL Reign, Orlando and Angel City to all tie or lose, and then also win against San Diego. It’s a lot to ask from this team but if they pull it off, it’d be one of the biggest stories of this season.
Washington Spirit vs NC Courage
The last match this weekend sees the Spirit host the Courage. Both teams are in the playoff spots and are in less precarious positions to those of Gotham FC and OL Reign. However, it doesn’t mean that they are completely safe.
The Spirit can afford a draw in this one, which given the two sides, is very likely but they could slide down the table if Orlando and/or Angel City win big in their games. The Courage are also in a similar position except their goal difference is better than Washington’s so a draw wouldn’t be the end of their playoff hopes unless something absolutely chaotic happens on the final day.
Both teams will want to win, just to make sure but if the game is still tied late, and both Orlando and Angel City haven’t done enough to leapfrog them in the table, don’t be surprised if both teams slow down and see out a boring draw in the end.
* All game will be on CBS and its affiliates at 5pm ET/2pm PT.