Breaking down the NWSL playoff contenders

We look at the 6 teams (including the Thorns) battling for the NWSL playoffs
August 27, 2022: The Thorns huddle before facing off against the San Diego Wave

We’ve finally made it to the final stretch of the NWSL season. Nearly 22 matches full of ups and downs have left all six NWSL playoff contenders separated by just four points with anywhere between two to three games remaining.

The Thorns controls their own destiny in the race for the NWSL Shield, but the margin for error is small. Currently sitting at 32 points, Portland can end the season on 41 points if it wins the rest of its games.

Coach Rhian Wilkinson’s squad ends its regular season with a two-game homestand (with games against Racing Louisville and the Chicago Red Stars) before concluding it against NY/NJ Gotham FC.

The Shield is the goal while the Thorns would additionally love to secure at least one playoff home game. Win out and Portland won’t have to leave the Rose City until the NWSL Championship game in Washington D.C if it makes it that far.

What’s going on around the league that Thorns fans should be aware of in the season’s final weeks? Here’s how the rest of the NWSL playoff table is shaping up and what’s at stake for each team ahead of the postseason:

San Diego Wave (34 points, 2 games left)

The San Diego Wave currently top the NWSL table, but there still promises to be plenty of movement throughout the next couple of weeks. It took care of business on Saturday with a 1-0 win against Angel City FC in front of over 32,000 fans and has a manageable schedule down the stretch.

San Diego has won three of its last five games, but also has lost twice in that span. Coach Casey Stoney’s team has games left in Orlando against the Pride and against the North Carolina Courage at home.

The Wave can reach up to 40 points this season, which would put them no lower than fifth come the postseason.

Houston Dash (33 points, 2 games left)

One of the teams that most benefited from the Thorns 1-1 draw against the Current was the Houston Dash. Currently second in the West, the Dash can finish with as many as 39 points.

Houston has two wins, two draws and a loss over its past five games. They host the OL Reign and travel to Washington for a game against the Spirit to close the regular season.

Kansas City Current (33 points, 2 games left)

After going 13 games unbeaten, the Current have picked up just a point over their last two games. Time will tell how big a role Hailie Mace’s late equalizer against the Thorns will play when the standings shake out, but it could be pivotal.

Kansas City has two wins, two draws and a loss over its past five games, but closes its schedule with a home match against Washington and a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, to take on Racing Louisville.

OL Reign (31 points, 3 games left)

Outside of Portland, the Reign have the most games in hand out of any team in the league with three. Unlike the Thorns, however, two of those games come on the road (at Gotham, at Houston).

The Reign have three wins in their last four games and are hoping to tack on a few more late results to enter the postseason with plenty of momentum.

Chicago Red Stars (30 points, 2 games left)

The Chicago Red Stars currently occupy the sixth and final NWSL playoff position. They’re silently developing confidence with two wins, two losses and just one draw in its last five games played.

Chicago has one of the more difficult final slates of any playoff challenger with a trip to Portland and home game against Angel City left to play. The Red Stars are in prime position to make the playoffs but also have a lot to play for when it comes to staying in front of the playoff dividing line come the end of the season.