NWSL playoff picture, standings, tiebreakers: San Diego back in first place; 4 teams in tight shield race

Tue, Sep 20, 2022
Soccer News (AP)

NWSL playoff picture, standings, tiebreakers: San Diego back in first place; 4 teams in tight shield race

The 2022 NWSL regular season is in the home stretch as teams begin to enter the final stretch of the schedule. The playoff picture continues to shift with only two weeks remaining as the year winds down. Several teams are also in contention for the NWSL Shield -- awarded to the team with the best regular season record -- while other clubs are eyeing a playoff push. The next chapter of the story will be written this week as NWSL action continues and you can catch the matches 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 after the latest weekend of action, possible playoff scenarios, and which teams are on the brink of elimination:

League standings

1. '(34 pts)'-- Playoff spot

2.''(33 pts)'-- Playoff spot

3.''(33 pts)'-- Playoff spot

4.''(32 pts)'-- Playoff spot

5. (31 pts)'-- Playoff spot

6. (30 pts)'-- Playoff spot'

7. (26 pts)'-- Outside looking in

8.''(25 pts)'-- Outside looking in

9.''(21 pts)'-- Eliminated

10. ''(19 pts) --'Eliminated

11.''(17 pts)'-- Eliminated

12.''(12 pts)'-- Eliminated

Playoff tiebreakers

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

The regular season will have two midweek matches this week ahead of a full slate of games over the weekend. Take a look at how to watch the matches this week:

Wednesday, September 21

  • Gotham FC vs OL Reign 7pm (Paramount+)
  • Orlando Pride vs NC Courage 7pm (Paramount+)
  • Portland vs Louisville 10pm (Paramount+)
  • Angel City vs Washington 10:30pm (AP Sports Network)

Saturday, September 24

  • North Carolina Courage vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC, 7:30 p.m. ET '(Paramount+)
  • Houston Dash vs. OL Reign, 8:30 p.m. ET (Twitch)

Sunday, September 25

  • Portland Thorns FC vs. Chicago Red Stars, 4 p.m. ET '(Paramount+)
  • Kansas City Current vs. Washington Spirit, 5 p.m. ET '(Paramount+)
  • Orlando Pride vs. San Diego Wave FC, 7 p.m. (Paramount+)

Possible playoff matchups

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

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

San Diego claim first place once again

1. San Diego Wave FC (34 points: 10-6-4)'

  • Possible first-round matchup:'Would earn a bye to semifinal and host quarterfinal winner at Snapdragon Stadium.

No matter the finish, the Wave have made history all season long during their inaugural year in NWSL. The club are back in first place for now after a narrow 1-0 win against California rivals Angel City FC in front of a record breaking crowd of 32,000. The record was set for the largest attendance at a regular season NWSL match.'

Houston jump into second

2. Houston Dash (33 points: 9-5-6)

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

The Dash picked up a big win against Chicago Red Stars, winning 1-0 on the road. Forward Ebony Salmon had the lone goal, as she scored her ninth of the season. The club will have another challenge against fifth-place OL Reign on Saturday.

Kansas City slip into third place

3. Kansas City Current (33 points: 9-5-6)'

  • Possible first-round matchup: vs. 6 Chicago Red Stars
  • Tiebreakers: Kansas City is level with Houston on total points, but the first tiebreaker of greater goal difference across the entire regular season (against all teams, not just tied teams) keeps them in third.

The Current remain in contention for both the number one seed and the 2022 NWSL Shield, and are looking to get back into the win column after a loss and draw last week. Goalkeeper Adriana Franch is having an MVP caliber season for the team, and will need to continue her form against Washington Spirit's Ashley Hatch, Ashley Sanchez, and Trinity Rodman on Sunday.

Portland dip into fourth place

4. Portland Thorns FC (32 points: 8-3-8)'

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

The Thorns have slipped into fourth place after a draw against Kansas City Current last week. The team has an opportunity to claim first place with a midweek match against Racing Louisville FC. Thorns forward Sophia Smith is still in contention for the golden boot as she sits in second with 11 goals this season. The striker is scoreless in her last four appearances with the Thorns, and could sneak some goals past Louisville. Racing are third in most goals conceded this season.'

OL Reign stay in fifth

5. OL Reign (31 points: 8-4-7)'

  • Possible first-round matchup:'vs. No. 4 Portland Thorns FC

OL Reign have had some strong individual performances from Rose Lavelle and Megan Rapinoe during the final month of the regular season, but the team has been unable to propel themselves into a higher playoff seed. They'll have a chance to pick up points with two matches this week.

Red Stars hanging onto final playoff spot

6. Chicago Red Stars (30 points: 8-8-6)'

  • Potential first-round matchup:'vs. No. 3 Kansas City Current

The Red Stars are still hanging onto the sixth and final playoff spot for the playoffs, but have managed to get some separation in the standings by earning results against OL Reign and Kansas City recently. After a 1-0 loss against Houston, four points now separate them from seventh-place Angel City, but the Red Stars tough late season schedule continues against other playoff bound teams as the club will now face Portland on Sunday.

Angel City FC, North Carolina Courage in playoff hunt

7. Angel City FC (26 points: 7-7-5)

  • Playoff perspective:'one spot away from a final playoff slot, four points out of sixth place, with the Red Stars holding the first tie-breaker for goal differential across the regular season.

The team is winless in their last three games, and coming off two consecutive losses, and have to get a result against Washington Spirit on Wednesday -- another team desperate for points.'

8. North Carolina Courage (25 points: 7-8-4)

  • Playoff perspective:'two spots away from a final playoff spot, five points out from a possible sixth-place standing. North Carolina currently holds first tie-breaker for goal differential over Angel City.

The teams win streak was snapped at three after a 2-1 loss to OL Reign. They'll try to get back into the playoff hunt with games against Gotham FC and Orlando Pride this week.'

Not technically eliminated

9. 'Orlando Pride (21 points: 5-8-6)'

The team is on a three game losing streak, and have been without their starting goalkeeper Erin McLeod for a few weeks. Must get a result against North Carolina to remain mathematically in contention for the playoffs. With three games left they're nine points out of sixth, of course in addition to winning out they'd also have to make up a goal difference gap and Chicago is on +7 while Orlando is on an unfortunate -17. So while it's mathematically possible, that's about all it is.


10. Washington Spirit (19 points: 3-6-10)'

The Spirit have fought to stay in contention after a brutal start to the season. But despite seven points from their past three matches, they simply ran out of time.

11. Racing Louisville FC (17 points: 3-8-8)'

Picked up their first win since May 22 with a 2-0 victory over Orlando Pride. Unfortunately, Racing Louisville had few ideas on the pitch throughout the season and the club have three more games to see if Kim Bjorkegren is the coach to get the team to the next step.'

12. NJ/NY Gotham FC (12 points: 4-15-0)'

The club suffered their 15th loss of the season after a 2-0 defeat to Washington Spirit. All that's left is to play spoiler against OL Reign or North Carolina this week.'

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