The NWSL playoff field is set. With one week remaining in the regular season, North Carolina leads second-place Portland by two points and has a game in hand. Chicago is third, two points ahead of
Orlando. Both the Red Stars and Pride clinched playoff berths on Saturday.
Expansion first. Led by Marta (12 goals, 6
assists) and Alex Morgan (9 goals, 3 assists in only 12 games), the Pride, which played to a 0-0 tie with Portland, became the first NWSL expansion team to clinch a playoff berth. Houston has
yet to make the playoffs in four seasons.
NWSL Semifinals: OCTOBER
7 Portland vs. Chicago or Orlando, 3:30 pm ET, Lifetime OCTOBER 8 North Carolina vs. Chicago or Orlando, 3:30 pm ET, Lifetime Final: Oct. 14 in
Orlando, 4:30 pm ET, Lifetime
End of line. North Carolina has topped the league standings for much of the season, but whatever
semblance of a race for the top four spots ended when Orlando got hot. It has an eight-game unbeaten streak, while Portland and Chicago, a 3-2 winner at Houston on Saturday, haven't lost in their last
five and four games, respectively. The Courage hasn't been too shabby, either. It is 6-1-1 in its last eight games.
games: 8-1-1 Portland 7-2-1 North Carolina 6-1-3 Orlando 4-3-3 Chicago
Race for the Shield. The Courage could have clinched the 2017 Shield -- the regular-season championship -- but it had to settle for a 1-1 tie with Sky Blue FC on Sunday. North
Carolina will have a chance to clinch on Wednesday when it travels to Edinburg, Texas, to face Houston in the makeup of a game postponed because of Hurricane Harvey.
One record broke, another on hold. Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch posted her 11th shutout of the season in the 0-0 tie at Orlando,
establishing a new NWSL single-season record for shutouts. Australian Samantha Kerr failed to score in Sky Blue FC's 1-1 tie with North Carolina, leaving her at 16 goals for the third week in a
row, tied with Kim Little for the league single-season scoring record.