It wouldn’t be the NWSL if its final regular season matchday didn’t have chaotic energy throughout.
As we finished up the season, we knew that eight teams had a chance to make the playoffs and throughout the 90+ minutes for those teams, anything could happen. And it did.
Leroux’s bicycle kick puts an exclamation mark on Angel City’s win
Hands up if you saw a 5-1 demolition of Portland coming at the hands of Angel City. If you have your hand up, send us the lottery numbers please because not many saw that kind of result coming. The Thorns came into Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon looking to wrap up the NWSL Shield, instead they were handed a crushing defeat at the hands of a resurgent Angel City.
The emphatic nature of this defeat was underlined by a magnificent Sydney Leroux goal, Angel City’s fourth, which saw her send a bicycle kick over Bella Bixby and into the far side of the goal. Leroux, and Angel City, were value for money with that win while Portland were shocking.
Angel City now travel to Seattle to face OL Reign on Friday night in the quarter-finals of the NWSL playoffs, and with such a dominant win, will feel like they can beat anyone on their day. Portland will have two weeks to “lick their wounds” before finding out who they’ll be playing in the semi-finals.
San Diego make history as first time Shield winners
Only in year two of their existence, the San Diego Wave showed their development by producing a solid 2-0 win over Racing Louisville to make them NWSL Shield winners. Casey Stoney and her staff have done a great job adding to the foundations the team had last season for them to reach this point, and despite star Alex Morgan not firing on all cylinders, they still ended up with their hands on the NWSL Shield.
Key to that run was Jaedyn Shaw’s performances throughout the season and it was no surprise that she got on the scoresheet once again.
With two weeks between now and their next game, the Wave will look to recuperate and prepare themselves for a tough semi-final in the playoffs. Keeping all of their players fit and healthy up until then will be key, particularly Shaw, and Stoney will want to make sure her team make it all the way this time around.
OL Reign originals roll back the years
Knowing that a win against the Chicago Red Stars would guarantee them another playoff appearance, OL Reign didn’t leave anything to chance. After peppering Chicago’s goal in the first half, Megan Rapinoe popped up with a brace and Jess Fishlock got on the scoresheet in the second half to make sure of the win.
This was a re-tread of yester years for the Reign. At the peak of their powers, Rapinoe and Fishlock were almost unstoppable (especially during 2014-2015) and with Rapinoe nearing the end of her professional career, it seemed almost fitting that she and Fishlock would spearhead OL Reign’s progression to the playoffs.
OL Reign will now host Angel City at home in a few days and it would be almost poetic if once again, Rapinoe, Fishlock and Lauren Barnes orchestrate a playoff run for the Reign.
Rodman’s red card ends Washington’s season
It may seem harsh to state that Trinity Rodman’s red card in the final regular season game was the reason why the Spirit are out of the playoffs but it’s closer to the truth than many would like to admit. Sure, the Spirit have dropped points from winning positions for most of the season but in this final game, where a draw would’ve been enough, going down a player so early in the game did not help.
Rodman is young, we tend to forget that, and her youth showed in a moment of irrationality where she reacted to being possibly fouled by putting in a reckless challenge on Denise O’Sullivan. It wasn’t an intentional challenge but it was a dangerous challenge all of the same. It was a devastating moment for Rodman, one she’s sure to learn from, and it also aided in not only ending Washington’s season but also giving the Courage the chance to see out a 1-0 win.
Gotham and KC provide all the goals
In Ali Krieger’s final home game, Gotham FC and KC Current put on a show for those who were in attendance. Gotham went up early, with goals by Midge Purce and Yazmeen Ryan, but KC came back with a goal by Alex Spaanstra and an own goal by Jenna Nighswonger.
It could’ve been a day of regret for Gotham as the Current had chances to win this game, particularly in the first half but Krieger was on a mission to keep her final season going for at least another season.
ALI KRIEGER GOAL LINE SAVE pic.twitter.com/q70CFjxApC— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) October 15, 2023
Her defensive work throughout the game made sure of the tie, putting Gotham into the playoffs as the Orlando Pride failed to make up the goal difference in their final game to push Gotham out of that final playoff spot.
Krieger and her teammates will now play the Courage next Sunday in the quarter-finals and they will look to her to once again lead them to a longer playoff run.