The 2022 NWSL regular season is down to one final match day on the schedule and there is still plenty on the line for teams in the playoff hunt. Portland Thorns FC, OL Reign, Kansas City Current, and San Diego Wave FC are the only clubs to clinch a place in the playoff, with two post-season spots still in play. With only one regular season matchday remaining, the 2022 NWSL Shield -- awarded to the team with the best regular season record -- is still in contention among three of the playoff-bound teams. The next chapter of the story will be written this weekend as NWSL action continues and you can catch the matches on Paramount+.
Want more coverage of women's soccer? Listen below and make sure to follow Attacking Third, A CBS Soccer Podcast devoted to bringing you everything you need to know from the NWSL and around the globe.
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:
1. Portland Thorns FC (38 pts) -- Playoffs clinched
2. OL Reign (37 pts) -- Playoffs clinched
3. Kansas City Current (36 pts) -- Playoffs clinched
4. San Diego Wave FC (35 pts) -- Playoffs clinched
5. Houston Dash (33 pts) -- Playoff position
6. North Carolina Courage (31 pts) -- Playoff position
7. Chicago Red Stars (30 pts) -- Outside looking in
8. Angel City FC (29 pts) -- Outside looking in
9. Orlando Pride (22 pts) -- Eliminated
10. Racing Louisville FC (20 pts) -- Eliminated
11. Washington Spirit (19 pts) -- Eliminated
12. NJ/NY Gotham FC (12 pts) -- Eliminated
Tiebreakers are decided first by greater goal difference across the regular season, then most total wins, then most goals scored. There are a possible seven tiebreaker scenarios for teams, as listed in order
- Greater goal difference across the entire regular season (against all teams, not just tied teams).
- Most total wins across the entire regular season (against all teams, not just tied teams).
- Most goals scored across the entire regular season (against all teams, not just tied teams).
- Head-to-head results (total points) between the tied teams.
- Head-to-head most goals scored between the tied teams.
- Least disciplinary points accumulated across the entire regular season (against all teams, not just tied teams).
- Coin flip (if two teams are tied) or drawing of lots (if three or more teams are tied).
It's the final weekend of the regular season with the last two playoff spots still on the line and three teams still alive in the race to finish atop the table. Take a look at how to watch the matches this week:
Friday, September 30
- San Diego Wave FC vs. North Carolina Courage, 10 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
Saturday, October 1
- NJ/NY Gotham FC vs. Portland Thorns FC, 6 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
- Washington Spirit vs. Houston Dash, 7 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
- Racing Louisville FC vs. Kansas City Current, 7:30 p.m. (Twitch)
- OL Reign vs. Orlando Pride, 10 p.m. ET (Twitch)
Sunday, October 2
- Chicago Red Stars vs Angel City FC, 6 p.m. ET (Paramount+)
Possible playoff matchups
Here's a final look at the playoff picture as the season continues this weekend:
- No. 1 Portland Thorns FC - bye to semifinal
- No. 2 OL Reign FC vs. bye to semifinal
- No. 3 Kansas City Current vs. No. 6 North Carolina Courage
- No. 4 San Diego Wave FC vs. No. 5 Houston Dash
Thorns clinch playoff spot
1. Portland Thorns FC (38 points: 10-3-8)
- Possible first-round matchup: Would earn a bye to the semifinal and host the quarterfinal winner at Providence Park.
The Thorns were the first team to clinch their spot in the postseason this year and they have a chance to claim another NWSL shield this season. They will head to the NWSL playoffs for the ninth time in their franchise history and for the sixth straight time, but it's still undetermined who they will face in the postseason. Forward Sophia Smith has been essential for the club with her 12 goals this season, but the club has the deepest roster in the league with players like Yazmeen Ryan and Morgan Weaver stepping up big time during the second half of the season.
OL Reign leap into second place
2. OL Reign (37 points: 10-4-7)
- Possible first-round matchup: Would earn bye to semifinal and host quarterfinal winner at Lumen Field
OL Reign have made the leap higher into the upper half of the playoff picture after a strong two weeks. USWNT stars Rose Lavelle and Megan Rapinoe have been key factors in recent results, but a current win against Houston Dash also showed off the depth of head coach Laura Harvey's squad. Forwards Bethany Balcer and Veronica Latsko scored in the victory to propel OL into second place.
Kansas City steady in third place
3. Kansas City Current (36 points: 10-5-6)
- Possible first-round matchup: vs. 6 North Carolina Courage
Kansas City clinched their spot in the postseason after a win against the Spirit. It has been a remarkable turnaround for the team that finished in last place during their inaugural 2021 season, and the club still has a chance to make more history. Expect Lo'eau LaBonta to continue her dark horse MVP campaign for the team into the playoffs.
San Diego clinch a playoff berth in fourth place
4. San Diego Wave FC (35 points: 10-6-5)
- Possible first-round matchup: vs. No. 5 Houston Dash
The franchise made history recently as the first California expansion team to make the NWSL playoffs in their inaugural season with a 2-2 draw against Orlando. They are out of contention for the NWSL Shield as the max points they can achieve is 38, and Portland Thorns hold the first tie-breaker of goal differential. Regardless, their season will continue as we head into the playoffs.
Houston Dash slip to fifth
5. Houston Dash (33 points: 9-6-6)
- Possible first-round matchup: vs. No. 4 San Diego Wave FC
Thanks to their loss to OL Reign, the Dash have slipped into fifth place with one match day remaining. A win against Washington could see them sneak into fourth, depending on other results, where they'd host a playoff match for the first time in franchise history. They hold tiebreakers over Chicago Red Stars should the Red Stars also catch up to them with 33 points.
North Carolina break through in sixth place
6. North Carolina Courage (30 points: 8-8-6)
- Potential first-round matchup: vs. No. 3 Kansas City Current
The Courage have clawed their way into playoff contention after spending the first half of their regular season in last place. Strong individual performances from attacking players have paved the way, including an impressive hat-trick showcase by Brazilian international Debinha.
Angel City FC, Chicago Red Stars in playoff hunt
7. Chicago Red Stars (30 points: 8-7-5)
8. Angel City FC (29 points 8-8-5)
- Playoff perspective: These two face off on the final matchday of the regular season needing a win and help from San Diego with a win over North Carolina Courage.
Four teams were eliminated from playoff contention for quite some time but could still play spoiler on the final matchday.
9. Orlando Pride (22 points: 5-9-7)
10. Racing Louisville FC (20 points: 4-9-8)
11. Washington Spirit (19 points: 3-8-10)
12. NJ/NY Gotham FC (12 points: 4-17-0)