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4 Games Left NWSL Playoff and Shield Outlooks

Updated: Sep 18, 2023





Gary Gibson

09/05/23


4 games left in the NWSL regular season. Last years Shield winner had 40 points. It looks like no one is going to reach that total and my prediction of 33 points being the playoff threshold is not coming true. Not because my math is off, but because no team at the top of the table is taking care of business. Washington losing to Chicago, as one example.


But let's continue this exercise anyway. This is shocking. There are 4 games left and not a single team has clinched. Which means that the current #1 team with 4 games left can still miss the playoffs. Insanity.


#1 San Diego Wave (up 2 spots)

Current points: 30

Goal Differential: +6

Points per match: 1.67

Points to 33: 3

Minimum results to 33: 1 win or 3 draws

Max points: 42

Projected points based on points per match: 36.74

Thoughts: Barring a monumental collapse, San Diego will make the playoffs for the 2nd season in a row. 2 away games at the #2 and #3 is concerning. Getting a win when nearly every other top 6 team drew or lost was a big opportunity gained.


#2 Portland Thorns (down 1 spot)

Current points: 29

Goal Differential: +13

Points per match: 1.61

Points to 33: 4

Minimum results to 33: 1 win and 1 draws or 4 draws.

Max points: 41

Projected points based on points per match: 35.42

Thoughts: Top teams take care of business. Early in the season they did. But 1 win in their last five and unsure of when Sophia Smith will return is concerning. 3 games at home against top 6 opponents and to finish the season against the unbeaten under Becki Tweed Angel City is a tough ask. Last week top of the table. Playing for their playoff lives this week.


#3 Courage (same)

Current points: 28

Goal Differential: +7

Points per match: 1.56

Points to 33: 5

Minimum results to get there: 2 wins or 1 win and 2 draws

Max points: 40

Projected points based on points per match: 34.32

Thoughts: Also, 1 win in their last 5 games. Only 1 game of their last 4 is at home for the league's best home team. Precarious position with extra challenge cup games in between.


This is probably the shield threshold line.


#4 OL Reign (up two spots)

Current points: 27

Goal Differential: +4

Points per match: 1.5

Points to 33: 6

Minimum results to get there: 2 wins or 1 wins and 3 draws.

Max points: 39

Projected points based on points per match: 33

Thoughts: The two top 6 teams that got full points did so against opponents with red cards. You have to take care of business and take the advantages you are given. Last season the last place team beat the top team and gave them the shield. The last game against Chicago looks eerily similar should they be in that position.


#5 Gotham FC (Down 1 Spot)

Current points: 27

Goal Differential: +2

Points per match: 1.5

Points to 33: 6

Minimum results to get there: 2 wins or 1 wins and 3 draws.

Max points: 39

Projected points based on points per match: 33

Thoughts: 3 of the last 4 games at home for the league's best road team. Two of the 4 may be against eliminated opponents. The lightest schedule difficulty of the top 5 teams. Gotham would have to win out to possibly hoist the Shield. 3 wins and a draw might do it.


#6 Washington Spirit (down 1 spot)

Current points: 26

Points per match: 1.44

Points to 33: 7

Minimum results to get there: 2 wins and 1 draws or 1 win and 4 draws.

Max points: 38

Projected points based on points per match: 31.68

Thoughts: Washington dropped the ball here. 21 shots vs 5 for Chicago.3.35 expected goals vs 1.19 for Chicago. Lost 2-0 at home. Luck always plays a factor in these games. 3 games against top 6 opponents coming. With Racing and Angel City rising, losing to Gotham could possibly end their playoff hopes.



#7 Racing Louisville (up one spot)

Current points: 24

Points per match: 1.33

Points to 33: 09

Minimum results to get there: 3 wins

Max points: 36

Projected points based on points per match: 27.2

Thoughts: Racing picked up their most important win in the history of their franchise against Portland. 1st win in 5 games. 3 of the last 4 against bottom 6 teams. They need to take care of business against all but eliminated Houston and eliminated Chicago.


#8 Angel City (up one spots)

Current points: 24

Points per match: 1.24

Points to 33: 12

Minimum results to get there: 4 wins

Max points: 36

Projected points based on points per match: 29.32

Thoughts: What a run! Definitely want to get hot right before the playoffs and Becki Tweed has them believing. 3 games against bottom 6 opponents but the Orlando game sticks out as two teams that will be clawing and fighting to get into that last playoff spot.


This is probably the playoff contention line.


#9 Orlando Pride (down two spots)

Current points: 22

Points per match: 1.22

Points to 33: 11

Minimum results to get there: 4 wins.

Max points: 34

Projected points based on points per match: 26.88

Thoughts: Will the real Orlando Pride please stand up? Wildly inconsistent all season. World beaters one game and then falling apart the next. It's possible that the red card against Moorhouse doomed their season. Time will tell.


#10 Houston Dash (same)

Current points: 20

Points per match: 1.11

Points to 33: 13

Minimum results to get there: Can't reach.

Max points: 32

Projected points based on points per match: 24.44

Thoughts: 3 out of 4 on the road. 1 against Gotham. The 3 other opponents are all in the same spot as they are. Gunning for that last playoff spot. Houston pretty much has to win out.

*** update*** considering they just let go of their current head coach this late in the season, tells you how much they think of their playoff chances.


#11 Chicago Red Stars ( up one spot)

Current points: 20

Points per match: 1.11

Points to 33: 13

Minimum results to get there: Can't reach.

Max points: 32

Projected points based on points per match: 24.44

Thoughts: Playing for their spot in the roster under new management next season this team is also playing spoiler. 3 out of their last 4 games are against teams playing for their playoff lives. Already a feather in their cap beating Washington last week.


#12 Kansas City (down one spot)

Current points: 19

Points per match: 1.01

Points to 33: 14

Minimum results to get there: Can't reach.

Max points: 31

Projected points based on points per match 23.4

Thoughts: Focus on the Challenge Cup. Get that money. Best shot at any hardware. All but officially eliminated. They play all top 6 clubs except for a seemingly meaningless game against eliminated Chicago. Considering the talent of this roster, this has to be one of the most underperforming seasons in league's history.




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