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NWSL Playoffs Scenarios Heading Into The Final Weekend

A historic fourth season for the NWSL has been competitive down to the final week. With five matches left in the regular season, four teams still have everything to play for. We took look at the weekend ahead and the NWSL Playoff scenarios for each team. 

The NWSL Shield

Only one point separates the top two, with Washington at 39 and Portland at 38. Washington are the Cinderella of the ball, or the Arsenal of the NWSL. They have made the playoffs these last three seasons, but are yet to claim a Shield or Trophy. The Spirit have the tougher match-up this weekend in third place Chicago.

Meanwhile, Portland looks to claim their first ever Shield on the way to what they hope is their second NWSL title. Dominate most of the season the Thorns have drifted as of late. A victory on Saturday and certain other results could see them host Seattle in the semi-finals. That would be a match fit for national TV. 

Either way both are secure in the playoffs and now they will be hosting a semi-final. The only question remains who gets the Shield? 

Fourth and Final Playoff Spot

The NWSL playoff line stops at four. Currently the Western New York Flash hold that spot on 29 points. However, two-time defending NWSL Shield winners Seattle Reign still have a chance to jump the Flash in the final weekend. 

The two sides have a bad history from this year when the Flash played a home match on a minor league baseball field that was comically small and poorly managed. For Western NY, this would be a return to glory for them. After winning the inaugural season of the NWSL, they failed to make the playoffs in 2014 and 2015. 

The Reign have had reverse fortunes, miserable results in 2013, only to then top the table in 2014 and 2015. The Reign’s season looked lost after struggle to score early on, the Olympic break, Rapinoe’s injury and then the constant media circus around Hope and the kneeling. The Reign hope they still have one more miracle weekend left in them to push them ahead of the Flash. 

The Rest of the League

Based on tie breaker rules the Chicago Red Stars have already clinched a playoff spot. If they were to lose the Flash could pass this for the third spot. EIther way Chicago has to travel for the opening round of the playoffs and neither location is dramatically closer to the other. However, playing spoiler to Washington’s Shield hopes and the higher table spot is motivation enough. 

The bottom five all have reasons to be disappointed in their 2016 season

Sky Blue: With a win and results their way, they could tie for fourth place and miss the playoffs via tiebreakers. 

Kansas City: Failing to make the playoffs after winning the last two titles

Houston Dash: Houston is the host of the NWSL title game this year, they will regret losing that opportunity

Orlando Pride: Life is tough for an expansion team, but after picking up Alex Morgan they were hoping for better. 

Boston Breakers: This marks the third season in a row they have finished last or next to last. Good thing relegation doesn’t exist. 

Week 20 Match-ups and TV Info

Three matches kick off Saturday, with another two Sunday evening. 

Sat: FC Kansas City(7) at Orlando Pride (9)

Sat: Western New York Flash (4) at Boston Breakers (10)

Sat: Washington Spirit (1) at Chicago Red Stars (3)

Sun: Portland Thorns (2) at Sky Blue FC (6)

Sun: Seattle Reign (5) at Houston Dash (8)

Both Portland and Seattle will know going into their Sunday matches if they still have it to play for or if their individual pursuits have ended. Catch the NWSL on national television this weekend: Seattle vs. Houston on FOX Sports 1 at 9:30 pm ET. 

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