NEWS & VIEWS
A day after earning a point in its final regular season home game, Orlando Pride’s ticket to the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League postseason has been booked. The Pride’s place in the final four of the table was secured after Seattle Reign FC fell 1-0 against FC Kansas City on Sunday night at Memorial Stadium.
With a tight leaderboard, the Pride’s semifinal opponent will be determined following the conclusion of the final week of the NWSL season. Orlando will either travel to face Portland Thorns FC on Oct. 7 or North Carolina Courage on Oct. 8. Both matches will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET and will be aired nationally on Lifetime.
The Pride face Portland and North Carolina, both the top two teams in the league, in their final two matches of the regular season, most recently drawing Thorns FC 0-0 on Saturday afternoon at Orlando City Stadium. Orlando travels to face the league-leading Courage in its final regular season match at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 30.
The top four teams, which also includes the Chicago Red Stars, will compete for a spot in the 2017 NWSL Championship match. That game will be hosted by Orlando City Stadium at 4:30 p.m. ET on Oct. 14, marking the third consecutive year the title match will be held at a predetermined site, and could provide Orlando the opportunity to compete for the City of Orlando’s first major league title in front of a home crowd.
Tickets for the Championship can be purchased at nwslsoccer.com/championship or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.
Both the Red Stars and Pride control their own postseason fate - and each can seal a place in the semifinals with a victory in their respective games on Saturday, Sept. 23. Orlando will meet the Portland Thorns in the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime at 3:30 p.m. ET, while Chicago is scheduled to face off against the Houston Dash at 8:30 p.m. ET.
The Red Stars could also wrap up the No. 3 seed in the playoffs if the Pride lose to Portland and Chicago wins against Houston later that night thanks to the Red Stars owning the head-to-head tiebreaker against Orlando.
Seattle Reign FC will be watching both Chicago and Orlando's games on Saturday with the hope that they will be still be alive in the race for the playoffs when they take the field Sunday against FC Kansas City in a match that is set to kick off at 9 p.m. ET.
At the top of the table, the North Carolina Courage will come into Week 21 with the possibility of clinching the NWSL Shield for the best record during the regular season. The Courage can claim the first silverware of the season if Portland lose or draw against the Pride and Carolina beat Sky Blue.
Tickets are on sale now for the 2017 NWSL Championship, which will kickoff at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 14 at Orlando City Stadium, starting as low as $20. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase seats throughout the 25,500 capacity venue, including in the North end of Orlando City Stadium - North America's first safe-standing supporter's section. Tickets are available online at www.NWSLchampionship.com and by phone at 1-855-ORL-CITY.
See below for the playoff scenarios in Week 21.
2017 NWSL PLAYOFF PICTURE
Glossary - Pts: Points, GD: Goal Difference, GR: Games Remaining, Max: Maximum points possible
Magic Number formula*
The Magic Number for a team to clinch a playoff spot is determined by subtracting that team's current points total from the maximum number of points possible for the fifth-place team, then adding one.
Elimination Number Formula*
The Elimination Number for a team to confirm their exclusion from the playoffs is determined by subtracting that team's maximum number of possible points from the current number of points of the fourth-place team, then adding one.
* = The Magic Number or Elimination Number for each team does not reflect scenarios that require tiebreakers. Tiebreaker scenarios are required when a team's Magic Number or Elimination Number is 1.
Week 21 clinching scenarios
Chicago Red Stars will clinch a spot in 2017 NWSL Playoffs if...
... Red Stars win vs. Dash
... Reign lose or draw vs. FC Kansas City
Orlando Pride will clinch a spot in 2017 NWSL Playoffs if...
... Pride win vs. Thorns
... Reign lose or draw vs. FC Kansas City
Week 21 elimination scenarios
Seattle Reign FC will be eliminated from the 2017 NWSL Playoffs if...
... Reign lose or draw vs. FC Kansas City
... Red Stars win vs. Dash AND Pride win vs. Thorns
Week 21 NWSL Shield scenarios
North Carolina Courage will clinch the 2017 NWSL Shield if...
... Courage win vs. Sky Blue AND Thorns lose or draw vs. Pride
To Break a Tie in the Standings
If two or more teams are tied on points at the end of the regular season, the tie will be broken through the following steps:
1. Head-to-head record
2. Overall goal difference
3. Overall goals scored
4. Head-to-head road record
5. Goal difference in all road games
6. Goals scored in all road games
7. Head-to-head home record
8. Goal difference in all home games
9. Goals scored in all home games
10. Coin toss
1.Points per game against other two teams
2.Overall goal difference
3. See tiebreaker procedure for two-team scenarios
NOTE: If two teams are still tied after the third team has advanced via the tiebreaker, the tie will be broken using the two-team tiebreaker rules.
The semifinals will be hosted by Portland Thorns FC on Saturday, Oct. 7 at Providence Park in Portland, Ore. and by the North Carolina Courage on Sunday, Oct. 8 at Sahlen's Stadium in Cary, N.C. Both matches will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Lifetime will broadcast live all three games of the 2017 NWSL Playoffs and the matches will also be available for both live and on-demand streaming via the Lifetime iOS and Android apps and MyLifetime.com. International fans can watch on the NWSL app and NWSLsoccer.com.
Tickets are on sale now for the 2017 NWSL Championship starting as low as $20. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase seats throughout the 25,500 capacity venue, including in the North end of Orlando City Stadium - North America's first safe-standing supporter's section. Tickets are available online at www.NWSLchampionship.com and by phone at 1-855-ORL-CITY.
Only five matches to go and our Pride's on a roll! Three consecutive wins, but can we make it four? City Beautiful fans are screaming for more. MORE! MORE!
We're on the road to Kansas City. Alex's scoring is looking pretty!
Five straight games she's got it on frame, no one can deny Morgan's got killer aim. Now sit back, relax, and take a listen, as the ladies of QueensCast fill what’s been missing. Now turn it up, and close the door, while Jay and Jen yell #LETSSCORE
The NWSL announced today that the Game of the Week on Lifetime for Saturday, Sept. 23 at 3:30 p.m. ET will now feature the Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns FC at Orlando City Stadium. In addition, the Houston Dash vs. Chicago Red Stars game will move to 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 23 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
The Dash vs. Red Stars match, originally scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on Lifetime, will now be available live on the go90 and NWSL apps and websites or, for our international fans, on NWSLsoccer.com.
Coming off of its most dominant victory in team history, Orlando Pride heads into Saturday’s match at Chicago looking to continue its recent stretch of road fortunes. The Club posted a 4-1 win over FC Kansas City on July 15 - the largest margin of victory at Orlando City Stadium to date - but will see a tougher test when it faces the Chicago Red Stars at Toyota Park on July 22, a venue in which the Red Stars are undefeated in this season.
Saturday’s match will mark the fifth time the Pride are featured on the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime, with kickoff slated for 3:30 p.m. ET. Fans can also watch online at NWSLsoccer.com.
“[Chicago’s strikers are] difficult. The key thing [for us] is defenders need to be on their mettle from minute 1 to minute 90. We need to make sure we always have a spare player in the back. Our defenders need to be marking, even when we are in possession of the ball. We need to be aware of what is going to happen next,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “If we turnover possession, [Chicago] are going to get the ball forward very quickly to [Christen] Press or [Sofia] Huerta and they are going to go straight to attack us either in behind or up to feet. That is going to be an issue that we are going to have to deal with in this game. Going away from home, we need to make sure that defensive discipline is there.”
With a 2-0-1 record over their last three road games, the Pride will look to extend their recent string of positive road results but will have to score their first-ever goal against the Red Stars and also break free from a pattern. In their three all-time meetings, Chicago has won each game by a 1-0 scoreline.
Last weekend, the Pride tied their record for goals scored in a 4-1 win over visiting FC Kansas City. Orlando jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead behind Alanna Kennedy’s second goal of the season and Alex Morgan’s first, a penalty kick in the 38th minute. Kansas cut the lead to one goal through Maegan Kelly, but the Pride responded with goals in the 70th and 75th minutes to comfortably take all three points. Defender Toni Pressley scored her first NWSL goal in the match, a thunderous strike from outside of the box while Kristen Edmonds capped things off with her first goal of the season.
Pressley’s goal went on to be named the NWSL Goal of the Week, while Aubrey Bledsoe’s 40th-minute stop earned Save of the Week honors. Bledsoe, who has played in seven matches this season, has already won the award three times and has racked up a 4-3-1 record.
In addition to tying the Club’s record for goals in a match, the Pride set a new benchmark for shots in a game (25) and shots on target (11). Alex Morgan also totaled seven shots over her 90 minutes, matching her single-game high and tying her own Orlando record.
The Red Stars retained second place in the standings with last week’s draw against Sky Blue FC, but were forced to settle for a point after Sam Kerr scored in the 90th minute for Sky Blue FC, ending the match at 2-2. Christen Press and Sofia Huerta scored for the Red Stars.
It will be the second straight week the Pride’s opponent is coming off a disappointing result at the hands of Sky Blue, after Kansas City dropped all three points in the match preceding the July 15 contest.
In the last meeting between Orlando and Chicago, the Pride dominated the match at Orlando City Stadium but were unable to find the back of the net. Morgan made her 2017 debut in the contest, but Chicago was awarded a penalty kick in the 68th minute. Press’ goal from the spot proved to be the difference.
After Saturday’s match, the NWSL will see a bye week for the first-ever Tournament of Nations, a round-robin tournament featuring the USA, Australia, Brazil and Japan. Seven Pride players will take part in the tournament with Morgan, Ali Krieger (USA), Kennedy, Steph Catley (Australia), Marta, Monica and Camila (Brazil) all called to represent their countries.
The Pride return to Orlando City Stadium on Aug. 5 to host the Red Stars in the second leg of the home-and-home series. The match will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET. Tickets are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.
Brazilian forward Marta increased her team-leading goal total on Saturday afternoon, pacing the Orlando Pride to a 2-2 draw at the Washington Spirit on Saturday afternoon. With the draw, the Pride have now picked up points in three straight road appearances.
“I thought for the first 25 minutes we controlled the game, controlled the tempo and went a goal up then we self-destructed. It took us a little bit to come back into the game. We were in the game for many periods in the second half until near the end and then we allowed the initiative to go back to Washington,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said postgame. “So I’m bitterly disappointed that we got ourselves in front twice and then gave it away but that seems to be symptomatic of how our season has gone so far. Until we stop making those fundamental errors, in this league, we won’t win games that we should win.”
The two teams traded goals throughout the match, with Marta scoring the first goal of the match on a penalty kick in the ninth minute. Marta slipped a ball in to Camila who was making a run just inside the penalty area. With her back to the goal, Camila was undercut by Washington defender Kasey Kallman, earning the Pride’s second penalty kick of the season. Marta stepped to the spot for the kick, driving the ball past Stephanie Labbé for her seventh goal of the season.
The home team tied things up in the 24th minute after Estefania Banini picked off a pass from right back Kristen Edmonds, sending the Spirit on the counter attack. Francisca Ordega received the ball at the top of the penalty area, finding rookie Mallory Pugh to the right before the forward drove a low shot through the Pride defense to make it 1-1.
After holding the stalemate until the halftime whistle, the Pride regrouped and came out of the locker room controlling possession and the opportunities in the second half.
Eleven minutes into the half, Marta scored her second goal of the game on a world class strike. Marta collected a deflected pass by Camila, taking a difficult left-footed shot off the half volley, sending the ball across her body and into the net.
Marta looked for her first NWSL hat trick in the 65th minute, blasting a shot from the edge of the center circle in an attempt to catch Labbé off of her line, but the distance shot fell just wide of the goal.
However, a late-game penalty kick call gave Washington an equalizer opportunity in the 90th minute and Pugh drew things level just before stoppage time.
Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe made a huge save in the 29th minute, denying the Spirit of the lead on a Tori Huster shot. Huster made a cutting run between the Pride’s center backs, collecting the ball and finding herself in alone on Bledsoe. But the third-year goalkeeper came off her line, using her left mitt to swat down the midfielder’s close-range chip attempt. Bledsoe finished with five saves in her seventh start of the season.
After debuting in front of the home crowd last weekend, Alex Morgan made her first appearance in the Pride’s starting XI on Saturday night. The U.S. Women’s National Team forward played 63 minutes and finished with one shot.
With her first goal of the game, Marta surpassed Edmonds’ franchise single-season goalscoring record of six, which was set during the Pride’s inaugural campaign. Marta currently has eight on the year, the second highest total in the league.
Orlando next returns to Central Florida to host FC Kansas City in the second meeting between the two teams this season. The match will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET from Orlando City Stadium. Tickets are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Washington Spirit vs. Orlando Pride
Date: July 8, 2017
Venue: Maryland SoccerPlex
Kickoff: 3:50 p.m. ET
Goals 1 2 F
Washington (3-6-3) 1 1 2
Orlando (4-5-4) 1 1 2
ORL – Marta (PK) 9’
WAS – Mallory Pugh (Francisca Ordega) 24’
ORL – Marta 56’
WAS – Mallory Pugh (PK) 90’
Orlando Pride: Aubrey Bledsoe; Kristen Edmonds, Ali Krieger ©, Toni Pressley, Steph Catley; Alanna Kennedy, Camila (Jamia Fields 78’), Dani Weatherholt, Chioma Ubogagu, Alex Morgan (Rachel Hill 63’), Marta (Maddy Evans 90’)
Substitutes Not Used: Caroline Stanley; Monica; Nickolette Driesse; Jasmyne Spencer
Washington Spirit: Stephanie Labbé ; Estelle Johnson (Caprice Dydasco 75’), Whitney Church, Shelina Zadorsky ©, Kassey Kallman; Tori Huster, Meggie Dougherty Howard (Kristie Mewis 81’), Estefania Banini; Havana Solaun (Cheyna Williams 64’), Mallory Pugh, Francisca Ordega
Substitutes Not Used: DiDi Haracic; Alyssa Kleiner; Lindsay Agnew, Arielle Ship
Stats Summary: WAS / ORL
Possession: 49.5% / 50.5%
Shots: 18 / 16
Shots on Goal: 7 / 4
Saves: 2 / 5
Corner Kicks: 1 / 2
Fouls: 10 / 11
Offside: 3 / 5
Referee: Henrik Karlsson
Assistant Referee 1: Tom Felice
Assistant Referee 2: Ben Pilgrim
Fourth Official: Will Aten