The 2019 National Women’s Soccer League playoffs will feature a repeat of last year’s teams, with the North Carolina Courage winning the NWSL Shield for a second year in a row and securing the top seed.
It was a relatively safe journey at the end for the playoff teams, who all clinched spots before the regular season’s final weekend. The Courage will host No. 4 Reign FC in the first semifinal, while the No. 2 Chicago Red Stars will host the No. 3 Portland Thorns in the second semifinal. The schedule allows the possibility of the Courage and the Thorns playing in the final for a third consecutive season.
Here’s a look at the playoff schedule:
North Carolina Courage vs. Reign FC: Oct. 20 (1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
The Courage once again enjoyed a dominant regular season, comfortably finishing five points ahead of the Red Stars. The team capped off the regular season with a 3-2 victory over Sky Blue FC. Jessica McDonald scored a brace and the team showed its depth and offensive quality. With attacking players such as Lynn Williams and Debinha, the reigning champion is the team to beat.
For Reign FC, making the playoffs was less straightforward. A combination of strong results and a string of poor results for the Utah Royals mean the Reign return to the postseason. Goalkeeper Casey Murphy has stepped in nicely since joining the team in May, making the third most saves in the regular season. However, shot quality and conversion has been a tough spot all season and remains a concern.
Chicago Red Stars v. Portland Thorns: Oct. 20 (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
The Red Stars enjoy their best regular season finish since 2015, when the team also finished in second place. With league leaders Sam Kerr, who scored 18 goals in 21 matches, and Yuki Nagasato, who had eight assists while playing every match, the team had plenty of attacking success. The Red Stars had a bye for the final weekend, closing out the regular season with a victory over the Royals and entering the playoffs well rested.
Though the Thorns did not have a bad season, the team closed with one win in five matches, including a 0-0 draw against the Washington Spirit on the final Saturday. Still, the team got a nine-goal season from Christine Sinclair, and she may be key if the Thorns are to make another final.
2019 NWSL Championship
- Sunday, Oct. 27 — 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
2019 NWSL regular season standings
- North Carolina Courage (15-4-5, 49 points)
- Chicago Red Stars (14-2-8, 44 points)
- Portland Thorns (11-7-6, 40 points)
- Reign FC (10-8-6, 38 points)
- Washington Spirit (9-7-8, 34 points)
- Utah Royals (10-4-10, 34 points)
- Houston Dash (7-5-12, 26 points)
- Sky Blue FC (5-5-14, 20 points)
- Orlando Pride (4-4-16, 16 points)