The NWSL playoffs are upon us, but true to the league's form, the teams have to get through a remarkably competitive regular season before eyeing the NWSL championship.
With three games to go, just 11 points separate first and last place, meaning all 12 sides have a chance at making the postseason – and risks missing out entirely with even one inopportune result. With no room for error, the end of the NWSL regular season promises plenty of drama and entertainment. You can catch all the action across Paramount+ and CBS Sports Golazo Network.
NWSL playoff structure
The top six teams at the end of the regular season will compete in the playoffs, with the top-ranked team winning the NWSL Shield. The first and second place sides will earn a first-round bye and head straight to the semifinals, while the rest will duke it out in the quarterfinals.
The third-ranked team will play the sixth-ranked side, while fourth and fifth place will face off against each other in the quarterfinals. The higher-ranked team will then face the second-ranked team in the semis, while the lower-ranked side awaits the NWSL Shield winner.
All eye a spot in the championship on Nov. 11 at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego.
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NWSL playoff picks – Attacking Third
Ahead of a competitive few weeks in the NWSL, the Attacking Third crew made their picks with the playoff push truly underway. The leading women's soccer podcast is now a live studio show. Catch them Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings as our analysts break down the best highlights and analysis and share insider information for all things women's soccer, only on CBS Sports Golazo Network.
NWSL playoff picks – Editorial Team
Most important matches in the playoff hunt this weekend
by Sandra Herrera
– Portland Thorns FC vs. San Diego Wave FC: Both teams will battle it out for the 2023 Shield. Portland is currently in first place with a two-point cushion over San Diego (and NJ/NY Gotham FC) for the title. Thorns forward Sophia Smith is managing an MCL sprain, but Portland has the depth to stay in first. Morgan Weaver has been the key to their recent success with three goals in the previous three matches.
– OL Reign vs. North Carolina Courage: Sixth-place OL Reign have struggled in the final third of the season and are hanging onto their playoff position by a thread. Courage defeated Reign 1-0 during their first meeting in May and forced the Reign to manage the game without the ball. If another narrow match is in the cards, OL goalkeeper Claudia Dickey will need a breakout game with Phallon Tullis-Joyce officially transferred to Manchester United.
– Angel City FC vs. Orlando Pride: A mid-table matchup for a chance to leapfrog into the upper half of the playoff standings. Angel City is on a remarkable second half season run under interim head coach Becki Tweed. The team is undefeated in their last eight regular season games and just one point shy of the playoff line. Orlando sit ahead of them in seventh-place and Pride rookie Messiah Bright will need to keep up her form if the Florida side wants to stay in the playoff push.
- Portland Thorns, 32 points
- San Diego Wave, 30 points
- NJ/NY Gotham FC, 30 points
- North Carolina Courage, 28 points
- OL Reign, 27 points
- Washington Spirit, 26 points
- Orlando Pride, 25 points
- Angel City, 25 points
- Racing Louisville, 24 points
- Houston Dash, 23 points
- Kansas City Current, 22 points
- Chicago Red Stars, 21 points
NWSL Schedule this weekend
All times Eastern
Saturday, Sept. 30
Washington Spirit vs. Kansas City Current, 7 p.m. (Golazo Network)
Chicago Red Stars vs. Racing Louisville, 8 p.m. (Paramount+)
Portland Thorns vs. San Diego Wave, 10:30 p.m. (Golazo Network)
Monday, Oct. 2
Angel City vs. Orlando Pride, 10 p.m. (Paramount+)