We are down to the final week of the season and only two teams have been eliminated from playoff contention. This should make for a wild final week with the playoffs starting early. Sky Blue FC and Western New York meet in an elimination match on Wednesday night. The loser is eliminated from contention, a draw and both are eliminated from contention.
Seattle and FC Kansas City have already clinched home field advantage and will have one eye on international call ups next week as both teams have multiple players heading to the August 20th friendly against Switzerland.
Here are the Orange in the Oven NWSL power rankings following the completion of week 18 (see last week’s rankings here):
1. Seattle Reign FC (16-1-6), 1st Place (Last Week – 1)
With nothing to play for this week, Seattle implemented a rotation policy to their team selection in order to rest players for the playoffs. With as much quality depth as Seattle has, it made little difference to the results. A 4-1 win over Houston and a 1-1 draw with Washington ensured that they added to their already record point total for the season.
With Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Sydney Leroux on national team duty next week, expect them to play sparingly if at all in this week’s finale against Portland. While Seattle would no doubt love killing Portland’s playoff hopes, seeing those players feature in three games in one week would be less than ideal from a playoff perspective.
Week 19 Schedule: Seattle travels to Portland for a Sunday regular season finale.
2. FC Kansas City (12-7-5), 2nd Place (Last week – 2)
Like Seattle, FC Kansas City has three players included in the national team side. Unlike Seattle, the blues have already finished their regular season. The question remains whether that will be to the Blues benefit – a chance to rest of players, or to their detriment – 10 days without a live match is regularly a good thing.
FC Kansas City has stumbled a bit over the last month of the season. They finished the regular season weakly with a 2-1 loss at Chicago.
Week 19 Schedule: FCKC has completed the regular season.
3. Washington Spirit (10-8-5), 3rd Place (Last week – 3)
A win over Seattle this week would have clinched a playoff spot, instead Washington came away with a draw (a reasonable result considering nobody has won at Seattle this season).
Washington controls its own destiny at this stage. A win this week and they are in. A draw and they are on shaky ground given their goal differential on the season. If Sky Blue wins tonight and other results go Sky Blue’s way, Saturday’s meeting with Washington would become an early playoff match.
Week 19 Schedule: Washington finishes the season on Saturday at home against Sky Blue. If other results go their way on Wednesday night, they will have already clinched a playoff spot. If not, it could be a must win game.
4. Chicago Red Stars (8-7-7), 5th Place (Last week – 5)
In a must win game, Chicago defeated FC Kansas City and put themselves in control of their own destiny thanks to Portland’s loss to Boston. A win tonight, and Chicago moves into 4th place heading into the final weekend.
The path to the playoffs is at home, with both games this week taking place in Lisle, IL. Home has not necessarily been the kindest of locales to Chicago this season, but the Red Stars will be focused on the games ahead of them, not the ones behind
Week 19 Schedule: Chicago hosts Boston on Wednesday night and Western New York on Saturday.
5. Portland Thorns FC (9-8-6), 4th Place (Last week – 4)
The mission was simple, beat last place Boston. Instead, Portland dropped a 2-0 result and lost control of their playoff destiny. Now, Portland’s fate may be decided before they ever kick a ball on Sunday.
If results do go their way, then Portland will need to do what they have been unable to do yet this season: get a result against Seattle.
Week 19 Schedule: Portland hosts Seattle on Sunday.
6. Sky Blue FC (6-8-7), 7th Place (Last week – 7)
Sky Blue have turned around their season. Not long ago they were 8th in our power rankings and fighting to stay out of last place. Now, they are improbably still in the playoff race coming into the final week of the season.
Afghanistan born Danish forward Nadia Nadim has had a lot to do with Sky Blue’s resurgence. Her hat trick this week lifted the team to a win over Houston and brought her goal scoring tally to 5 since arriving in July.
At this stage, Sky Blue needs to win both of their games this week and hope other results go their way. If so, then the league will be forced to reschedule the postponed home match with Houston which would likely take place on August 20th.
Week 19 Schedule: Sky Blue is away to Western New York tonight and away to Washington on Saturday.
7. Western New York Flash (8-11-3), 6th Place (Last week – 6)
The Flash did not play last week but other results went their way which leaves them barely alive in the playoff race. As is the case with Sky Blue, the Flash must win all of their remaining matches and hope that other results go their way.
Week 19 Schedule: The Flash host Sky Blue tonight and travel to Chicago on Saturday.
8. Boston Breakers (5-15-2), 9th Place (Last week – 9)
For the first time this season, Boston climbs off the bottom of the power rankings after beating Portland last week. Since the start of July, the Breakers have been a competitive team, giving every team they play a rough go of it and putting together results here and there.
Alyssa Naeher has been a shot stopping machine in goal while Heather O’Reilly has been on an absolute tear. A win in either of their matches this week and they climb off the bottom of the table as well. It could be a solid end of the season for the Breakers.
Week 19 Schedule: Boston plays at Chicago tonight and hosts Houston for their season finale on Sunday.
9. Houston Dash (5-14-3), 8th Place (Last week – 8)
This Dash have been a tough team to beat all season long but are having a rough end to the season having lost four in a row, which has let Boston climb to within one point of them.
On Sunday, they will meet the Breakers with last place on the line. The team is keen to finish the season strongly, but for a side that will need to upgrade next season, having the #1 draft pick is not the worst outcome in the world.
Week 19 Schedule: The Dash travel to Boston for Sunday match. By then, they will know whether or not their earlier postponed match against Sky Blue needs to be made up.