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OL Reign are locked in a tight playoff race

With a month remaining, just six points separate 1st and 7th place.

MikeRussellFoto / Sounder at Heart

On Friday, September 9, OL Reign will host their second-to-last regular-season home match of the 2022 season. While it’s not a must-win match for the Reign as they fight for a playoff spot, the club will be going up against the Chicago Red Stars at Lumen Field, a team that sits just one point behind them on the ever-so-tight NWSL table. A win is crucial if the Reign want to give themselves a comfortable road into the playoffs.

Ask any player what they love most about the NWSL and they’ll likely tell you how much they enjoy the tight competition. In a league with so much talent, any team can beat another on any given day. The competition is fierce, and this might be one of the tightest playoff races we’ve seen at this point in the season.

OL Reign has five regular-season matches remaining and currently sits in fifth place with 27 points. That puts them just four points away from the top of the league, where the San Diego Wave currently sit with 31 points. The Wave have played an extra match — so has Houston Dash in second place — giving the Reign a fighting chance for the NWSL Shield.

At the same time, Chicago is just one point behind the Reign, and Angel City FC is two points behind the Seattle club with a game in hand. The Orlando Pride could also sneak into the sixth and final playoff spot, as they are five points behind the Red Stars.

2022 NWSL Standings

Rank Team Games Played Points Home Record Away Record Goal Differential
Rank Team Games Played Points Home Record Away Record Goal Differential
1 San Diego Wave 18 31 4-2-3 5-3-1 11
2 Houston Dash 18 29 3-3-3 5-2-2 8
3 KC Current 17 29 4-1-4 4-3-1 1
4 Portland Thorns 17 28 4-2-3 3-1-4 17
5 OL Reign 17 27 5-1-3 2-3-3 6
6 Chicago Red Stars 17 26 4-1-3 3-4-2 4
7 Angel City 16 25 4-3-2 3-2-2 1
8 Orlando Pride 17 21 1-3-4 4-3-2 -13
9 NC Courage 15 16 2-4-1 2-3-3 2
10 Racing Louisville 17 14 1-5-3 1-2-5 -10
11 Washington Spirit 17 13 1-4-3 0-2-7 -5
12 Gotham FC 16 12 1-6-0 3-6-0 -22

With six teams qualifying for the playoffs — and the top two automatically advancing to the semifinals — OL Reign still has full control of its destiny. The predictions website FiveThirtyEight gives the Reign an 88% chance to make the playoffs and a 62% chance to finish in the top two and advance to the NWSL semifinals. However, anything can happen in the NWSL.

Here is what OL Reign’s remaining schedule looks like:

  • Friday, September 9: Home game against Chicago Red Stars
  • Saturday, September 17: Road game against North Carolina Courage
  • Wednesday, September 21: Road game against NJ/NY Gotham FC
  • Saturday, September 24: Road game against Houston Dash
  • Saturday, October 1: Home game against Orlando Pride

That’s a pretty brutal road trip in the middle, which includes three road matches in seven days and travel to Cary, North Carolina, then New York, and then back south to humid Houston. While just one of those three teams — the Dash — is in the playoff picture, the Courage have been in a good run of form and still have a shot to make the playoffs.

OL Reign also has eight players currently on international duty, with most concluding their national team play on Tuesday, September 6. Jess Fishlock will be flying back to Seattle from Wales at that point, while Quinn and Jordyn Huitema will be making the long trek back from Australia. Head coach Laura Harvey will need to be cautious about minutes for the club’s home match just a few days later, and she will again need to manage minutes during their three-game road trip. Fortunately, Harvey has called this year’s squad the deepest team she’s ever managed — and some of the rotational players had a chance to feature in the Women’s Cup that OL Reign won just a few weeks ago.

The teams above the Reign also have some tough schedules. San Diego has to face Angel City, who could be fighting to get into the playoffs. Houston has to face the Reign, Chicago, and Angel City. Portland will take on the KC Current and Red Stars. In addition to facing the Thorns, Kansas City has to take on Chicago.

Certainly, OL Reign isn’t the only team with a tough schedule over the next month. At the same time, it won’t be an easy journey for the Reign. But as they’ve proved in recent games — including their latest comeback victory over Orlando in stoppage time — this team has plenty of resilience, talent, and grit. Buckle up, because the NWSL playoff push is about to get wild.

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