Wednesday, July 17, 2024

NWSL Decision Day picks, predictions: Schedule, how to watch, live stream: Experts see chaos on final day

The San Diego Wave and Portland Thorns are officially in the playoffs, but with four spots on the line and eight teams vying for them, the chaos of the final day of the NWSL season is sure to be intense.

Every single matchup this weekend will be a consequential one, and they’ll kick off at exactly the same time. 

Here’s what you need to know ahead of another jam-packed weekend in the NWSL.

NWSL playoff structure

The top six teams at the end of Sunday 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.

Scenarios

There are a lot of them so hang onto your hats. 

Portland Thorns FC (35 points, 10-6-5) – Clinched top 2 seed/bye 
Clinch NWSL Shield with:  

  • A win OR  
  • SD loss OR  
  • A draw + SD draw OR 
  • A loss + SD draw + favorable GD (any loss by 7 goals or less) 

San Diego Wave FC (34 points, 10-7-4) – Clinched top 2 seed/bye 
Clinch NWSL Shield with:  

  • A win + POR draw/loss OR 
  • A draw + POR loss by 8+ goals 

North Carolina Courage (30 points, 8-7-6)  
Clinch a top 4 seed/home match with:  

  • A win OR  
  • A draw + NJY draw/loss + RGN draw/loss + favorable GD (over LA/ORL if either win) OR 
  • A loss + NJY loss + RGN draw/loss + ORL draw/loss + LA draw/loss + favorable GD 

Clinch a playoff spot with: 

  • A win OR
  • A draw + NJY draw/loss OR RGN draw/loss OR ORL draw/loss OR LA draw/loss OR 
  • A draw + favorable GD (over LA/ORL) OR 
  • A loss + no more than 3 of NJY, RGN, ORL, LA reach 31+ points + favorable GD (over LOU) 

NJ/NY Gotham FC (30 points, 8-7-6)  
Clinch a top 4 seed/home match with: 

  • A win OR 
  • A draw + RGN draw/loss + favorable GD (over LA/ORL if either win) OR 
  • A loss + WAS/NCC win + RGN loss + ORL draw/loss + LA draw/loss + favorable GD OR 

Clinch a playoff spot with:  

  • A win OR  
  • A draw + RGN draw/loss OR ORL draw/loss OR LA draw/loss OR 
  • A draw + favorable GD (over LA/ORL if both win) 
  • A loss + no more than 3 of NCC, WAS, RGN, ORL, LA reach 31+ points + favorable GD (over LOU) 

Washington Spirit (30 points, 7-5-9)  

Clinch a top 4 seed/home match with:  

  • A win OR 
  • A draw + NJY loss + RGN draw/loss + favorable GD (over LA/ORL if either win) OR 
  • A loss + NJY loss + RGN loss + ORL draw/loss + LA draw/loss + favorable GD 

Clinch a playoff spot with: 

  • A win OR 
  • A draw + NJY loss OR RGN draw/loss OR ORL draw/loss OR LA draw/loss OR 
  • A draw + favorable GD (over LA/ORL if both win) OR 
  • A loss + No more than 3 of NJY, RGN, ORL, LA reach 31+ points + favorable GD (over LOU) 

OL Reign (29 points, 8-8-5)  

Clinch a top 4 seed/home match with:  

  • A win + WAS/NCC draw OR 
  • A win + NJY draw/loss OR 
  • A draw + ORL draw/loss + NJY loss + WAS win/loss + LA draw/loss + favorable GD 

Clinch a playoff spot with: 

  • A win OR 
  • A draw + No more than 3 of NCC, NJY, WAS, ORL, LA, reach 31+ pts + favorable GD OR 
  • A loss + ORL draw/loss + LA draw/loss + LOU draw/loss + favorable GD 

Orlando Pride (28 points, 9-11-1)  

Clinch a top 4 seed/home match with:  

  • A win + (2 of following 3 results: RGN draw/loss + NJY draw/loss + WAS draw) + favorable GD OR 
  • A win + NJY loss + RGN draw/loss + LA draw/loss 

Clinch a playoff spot with: 

  • A win + favorable GD OR 
  • A win + NJY loss OR RGN draw/loss OR LA draw/loss OR 
  • A draw + RGN loss + LA draw/loss + LOU draw/loss + favorable GD 

Angel City FC (28 points, 7-7-7)  

Clinch a top 4 seed/home match with: 

  • A win + NJY draw/loss + RGN draw/loss + favorable GD (with anyone on 31 points) 

Clinch a playoff spot with: 

  • A win + WAS win/loss + ORL loss/draw OR RGN draw/loss OR NJY loss OR 
  • A win + favorable GD 

Racing Louisville FC (27 points, 6-6-9) 

Clinch a top 4 seed/home match with: 

  • A win + NJY loss + RGN draw/loss + ORL draw/loss + LA draw/loss + WAS/NC win + favorable GD 

Clinch a playoff spot with: 

  • A win + No more than 3 of NCC, NJY, WAS, RGN, ORL, LA reach 31+ points + favorable GD  

Houston Dash (26 points, 6-7-8) 

Clinch a playoff spot with: 

  • A win + RGN loss + LOU draw/loss + LA draw/loss + favorable GD 

NWSL Decision day schedule

Sunday, Oct. 15 

All times Eastern

All games at 5 p.m.

NWSL playoff picks – Attacking Third

Jordan Angeli Lisa Carlin Darian Jenkins

1st

San Diego

San Diego

San Diego

2nd

Portland

Portland

Portland

3rd

North Carolina

North Carolina

Gotham

4th

Gotham

Gotham

Washington Spirit

5th

Orlando

Angel City

North Carolina

6th

Angel City

Orlando

Orlando

NWSL playoff picks – Editorial Team

Pardeep Cattry Mike Goodman Sandra Herrera

1st

Portland

San Diego

Sand Diego 

2nd

San Diego

Portland

Portland

3rd

Gotham

Gotham

Washington Spirit

4th

OL Reign

Washington Spirit

Gotham

5th

North Carolina

OL Reign

Orlando

6th

Orlando

Orlando

Courage

Most important matches to keep an eye on

  1. Angel City vs. Thorns: Los Angeles need to win for a chance at the playoffs and a win by Portland helps them secure the 2023 NWSL Shield. Angel City will have the homefield advantage in this one but Portland is no stranger to high stakes games. This one has drama written all over it. 
  2. Wave vs. Louisville: These two teams last met in June and settled for a scoreless draw. This time they’re both in far different phases of their season with the Wave rising toward the NWSL Shield and Louisville clinging to their desperate playoff hopes. Alex Morgan finally broke her months long scoring drought last week for the Wave, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. 
  3. Red Stars vs. OL Reign: With eight teams competing for four playoff spots, there’s several bubble teams rooting for Chicago to hold off the Reign. Laura Harvey is the winningest coach in the league, but has struggled on the road in Bridgeview, and any thing less than a win can put the Reign’s playoff hopes in jeopardy.

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