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OL Reign will host the KC Current in the NWSL semifinals

Here’s what to watch in the first round of the NWSL playoffs.

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NWSL: Kansas City Current at OL Reign Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: In what was an entertaining and back-and-forth match in front of 21,284 fans, the Kansas City Current scored in the 100th minute to earn a 2-1 win over the Houston Dash — and will be heading to Seattle for their October 23 semifinal.

Lo’eau LaBonta scored first from the penalty spot for the Current in the fifth minute, but Sophie Schmidt equalized for the Dash in the 21st on a well-taken volley off a recycled corner kick. It looked like the match was heading for extra time, until Kate Del Fava slid to connect with a pass into the box in the 100th minute, pushing the ball over the endline just before the ref blew the final whistle.

OL Reign will host the KC Current at Lumen Field on Sunday, October 23, at 4:30 PM PT. Tickets are going quickly, but plenty of seats are still available.

After earning the NWSL Shield, OL Reign advanced to the semifinals in the 2022 NWSL playoffs, bypassing the first round of postseason games. That gives the team extra time to sell tickets for their October 23 semifinal match, focus on player recovery, and scout their future opponent.

OL Reign announced earlier in the week that the club had already sold more than 10,000 tickets for the match at Lumen Field, and it looks like they’ve sold at least another 1,000 or more after that. With the lower bowl open on all sides of the stadium, the club has a chance to shatter its standalone attendance record of 10,746 fans.

With no match for OL Reign this weekend as the NWSL playoffs commence, all eyes will be on Sunday’s 2 PM PT match when the Houston Dash host the Kansas City Current. The Dash advanced to their first-ever postseason this year. Not only that, but as the #4 seed, they’ll host Kansas City, the #5 seed, at PNC Stadium. The winner will face the Reign next Sunday.

The teams defeated one another on the road in their two matchups during the regular season. As of Friday evening, Houston sold 17,000 tickets, which means the atmosphere should be fantastic and the Dash will be hoping that home energy propels them to victory.

In the other first-round playoff match, the San Diego Wave hosts the Chicago Red Stars. The winner of that match will travel to Portland to face the Thorns next weekend.

What to Watch

Here are three things to watch as Houston hosts KC.

  • KC’s fluid system: One of the things that makes the Current so hard to scout is the fluidity of their 3-5-2 system. Players have a system that focuses on winning the ball back as quickly as possible after losing it, but they’re also given significant freedom when it comes to making decisions on where to press, move into space, and send the ball.
  • Houston’s high press: Under new head coach Juan Carlos Amoros, Houston has become a team that presses higher up the field and holds a very high defensive line. They’ve had a ton of success, too. After causing just 11 offside calls in their first 11 games, they got 60 in their final 11. Can their high line cause frustration for the Current’s speedy forwards?
  • Transition play: Both teams excel in transition. Which side can be more effective?

Who to Watch

For Houston, Ebony Salmon has been on fire since joining the club in July — scoring nine goals in 12 matches. She can get behind defenses but also holds off challenges well, making her hard to push off the ball. The Dash also has the creative flair of María Sánchez, who was third in the league in chances created this year and had four assists. Finally, Sophie Schmidt might not fill up the stat sheet, but the veteran midfielder is the glue that holds the team together and has been one of the most underrated players all season.

For Kansas City, CeCe Kizer has been a huge addition to the frontline since joining the club in June. She has seven goals and three assists. Lo’eau LaBonta has had her best NWSL season yet as an attacking midfielder. She has seven goals and four assists and has inspired some of the best goal celebrations in the league. Elizabeth Ball plays in the center of the Current’s three-back system. She’s been vital to KC’s success, reading forward runs smartly and organizing the backline.

How to Watch

Houston Dash vs. KC Current

Sunday, October 16
TV: None
Streaming (US): Paramount+
Streaming (International): Twitch (Search NWSLOfficial)

San Diego Wave vs. Chicago Red Stars

Sunday, October 16
TV: CBS Sports Network
Streaming (US): CBS Sports
Streaming (International): Twitch (Search NWSLOfficial)

Join the Discussion

Consider this your game thread for the first round of NWSL playoff matches. Watch and discuss the matches in the comments, as OL Reign find out who they’ll be hosting on Oct. 23.

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