Christine Sinclair, Thorns vs. Reign, 4.21.13
Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer

2013 NWSL Playoff Picture: How the Portland Thorns FC can host a playoff match

With one game remaining for every team in the National Women’s Soccer League, the final playoff picture is still not set. The playoff participants have been determined, but each team’s seed is not yet finalized, which will make for a very exciting final weekend in the NWSL as each playoff bound team faces a side that did not qualify for the postseason. It’s teams with nothing to lose battling teams with home-field advantage to lose that will cause a lot of scoreboard watching among NWSL fans this weekend.

Portland Thorns FC will know exactly what they need to accomplish come game time against Seattle Reign FC (8pm PT, Webstream) at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash. The Western New York Flash, who currently sit in the No. 2 spot, play host to the resurgent Boston Breakers at 5pm PT in a nationally televised match on FOX Soccer. If the Flash defeat Boston, it would all but end Portland’s chance at hosting a home playoff semifinal match because Western New York holds the tiebreaker on goal differential over Thorns FC. Portland would need to beat Seattle and make up a nine-goal difference in goal differential to leapfrog Western New York. In short, Thorns fans should adopt the Breakers this weekend and root for a Boston win.

Thorns FC will be watching the scores on Sunday as well, when Sky Blue FC faces the Washington Spirit at 2pm PT. Currently, Portland and Western New York hold tiebreakers over Sky Blue FC, but there are several different scenarios that could see Sky Blue end up ahead of both clubs.

FC Kansas City is in the No. 1 spot, three points ahead of Western NY Flash, Portland Thorns, and Sky Blue FC in the standings. The Blues cannot fall out of the top two spots with this weekend’s results as Western New York is the only team that has a real possibility of knocking them out of the top spot.

Here’s a look at a few different scenarios that will earn Thorns FC a home playoff semifinal match on Aug. 24 at JELD-WEN Field:

Scenario 1
Thorns FC WIN vs. the Reign, the Flash LOSE or DRAW against Boston and Sky Blue FC LOSE or DRAW against Washington.

Scenario 2
Thorns FC WIN vs. the Reign, the Flash LOSE or DRAW against Boston and Sky Blue FC WIN against Washington, but fail to make up the one-goal difference in goal differential. Portland (+6), currently has the edge over Sky Blue FC (+5) in that tiebreaker. Should Sky Blue FC and Portland both win and Western New York lose, AND if Sky Blue FC are able to tie Portland on goal differential, the next tiebreaker is total goals (both teams currently have 30 goals), followed by head-to-head road record.

Scenario 3
Thorns FC DRAW vs. the Reign, the Flash LOSE against Boston, and Sky Blue FC DRAW with Washington.

What does this mean for Thorns fans?
Thorns FC fans will be keeping a close eye on two other games this weekend.

The game between the Flash and Breakers (FOX Soccer, 5 p.m. PT) directly precedes the Thorns game against the Reign. Thorns FC fans will be looking for the Breakers to beat the Flash.

On Sunday, Thorns fans will be watching the Spirit vs. Sky Blue FC (live webstream through, 2 p.m. PT), cheering for either a win or draw for the Washington Spirit.

Both of these scenarios would allow the Thorns to take the second seed with a win or draw at Seattle and would deem goal differential irrelevant.

To check a complete list of scenarios, click here.