All Scores

NWSL 2022 playoffs: Who will earn the final two spots?

Maria Sánchez and the Houston Dash face a win-and-in scenario this weekend. (Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports)

Four teams. Two playoff spots. One game each. The last week of the 2022 NWSL regular season is coming down to the wire, with the final games taking place Friday through Sunday.

The Houston Dash, North Carolina Courage, Chicago Red Stars and Angel City FC are all within four points of each other and have 90 minutes to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Below, we break down what all four clubs need out of the weekend’s matches to join the Portland Thorns, OL Reign, Kansas City Current and San Diego Wave in the playoffs beginning Oct. 15. Wins are three points, draws are one, and in the case of a tie, the league will turn to goal differential to determine who gets the final spots.

Houston Dash — 33 points, 9-6-6, 7 +/-

To clinch playoff spot: Win/draw; or North Carolina loss; or Chicago loss/draw

Next match: at Washington Spirit (11th place, 3-8-10)

The Dash have the most straightforward path to earning their first playoff berth in franchise history. It’s worth remembering that Houston tied Washington 2-2 in their previous meeting this season, and the Spirit are always capable of matching the intensity of their opponents. But Washington is also in the mist of a two-game losing streak, while the Dash are 1-1-1 in September and know they could clinch a berth and $1,250 in playoff competition bonuses for each player with a win or a draw on Saturday. Houston is carrying momentum and confidence into the final stretch.

Debinha has been on a scoring tear for the Courage in their push for the playoffs. (Jaylynn Nash/USA TODAY Sports)

North Carolina Courage — 31 points, 9-8-4, 13 +/-

To clinch playoff spot: Win; or Chicago and Angel City draw

Next match: at San Diego Wave FC

It’s easy to count the Courage out because they spent so much of the regular season at the bottom of the standings after winning the Challenge Cup in May. To see the current version of this North Carolina team in the playoffs, however, wouldn’t be surprising. Five of the Courage’s nine wins this season have come in September, and they’re now tied with the first-place Portland Thorns with 46 goals scored.

The Wave, who defeated the Courage 1-0 in their previous meeting, won’t make it easy for them to achieve what seemed so unlikely two months ago. Despite already clinching a playoff spot, No. 4 San Diego is coming into this match just as hungry because a top-two ranking would earn them a bye to the semifinals.

The Red Stars meet fellow playoff contender Angel City in their regular season finale. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Chicago Red Stars — 30 points, 8-7-6, 4 +/-

To clinch playoff spot:Win AND a North Carolina loss or draw

Next match: vs. Angel City FC

The Red Stars have been in the top six of the standings for so much of the season that it feels like a playoff spot should be theirs. But right now, their chances appear slim. They’ll have a hard time catching up with No. 5 Houston (33 points), because even if the Reds Stars win and the Dash lose, Chicago would have to open the floodgates to exceed Houston’s goal differential of seven in the case of a tiebreaker. The sixth playoff spot is more within reach, but they’ll have to surpass the Courage (31 points) to get there.

Angel City, the Red Stars’ opponent on Sunday, beat the defending NWSL finalists 1-0 in their last matchup. The biggest difference this time is that Chicago gets to host. Angel City has more wins than losses when playing in front of large crowds at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, but on the road they’ve lost four games and won just three. The Red Stars need to take advantage of that discrepancy.

Claire Emslie has scored three goals for Angel City, including the game-winner against San Diego in July. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

Angel City FC — 29 points, 8-8-5, -2 +/-

To clinch playoff spot: Win AND a North Carolina loss

Next match: at Chicago Red Stars

Angel City making the postseason in their first year as an expansion club would be exciting. Though seventh in the standings for most of the season, they’ve proven it’s not just a pipe dream after defeating or tying every team above them in the standings at least once, except for OL Reign.

The challenge right now is getting over their discouraging performance against Racing Louisville FC on Sunday. Angel City fell 3-1, handing the 10th-ranked team their second win in 16 games. If North Carolina loses to San Diego, the final playoff spot comes down to Angel City’s match against Chicago. Neither side can afford even a draw. It’s going to be a battlefield.


Last two in: Houston Dash and Chicago Red Stars

The Dash will claim the fifth playoff spot with a draw against the Spirit, the team with the most ties this season (10). Chicago will rise to sixth with a win over Angel City after North Carolina’s lethal attack fails to break down San Diego’s strong defense.

Jessa Braun is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering the NWSL and USWNT. Follow her on Twitter @jessabraun.

Serena Williams is ‘super interested’ in owning a WNBA team

Serena Williams speaks on stage during keynote conversation at 2019 conference in San Jose, California
The tennis icon is all in on women's sports — and the WNBA is right on her heels. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/WireImage via Getty Images)

Could Serena Williams co-own a WNBA team in the near future? 

Speaking with CNN on Monday, Williams expressed her interest in that potential — as well as the mounting enthusiasm for women’s sports around the world. 

"I think women’s sport is having a moment that it should have always had," Williams said. "I feel like tennis has had its moment. It’s international, and it’s huge, and it’s always gonna be there.

"Now it’s time to lift up other sports — women’s soccer, women’s basketball — there’s so many other sports that women do so great, let’s put it on that platform. Women’s basketball is getting there, and it’s arrived."

When asked if she had any interest in adding a WNBA team to her roster of ownership stakes, the tennis great welcomed the idea. "I absolutely would be," Williams said. "With the right market, I would definitely be super interested in that."

"There is no risk — women’s sport is exciting," Williams added, citing the 2024 NCAA women's tournament's record-breaking viewership as evidence. "People are realizing that it is exciting to watch, so it's an overly safe bet."

Williams may not need to wait long to act on that bet. On Monday, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said that she is "pretty confident" the league will expand to 16 teams — up from its current 12 — by 2028. 

The goal, she said, is to reach 14 by 2026. Oakland's Golden State is already on track to launch the league's 13th team in 2025. The move will mark the WNBA's first new franchise since the Atlanta Dream debuted in 2008.

"It's complex because you need the arena and practice facility and player housing and all the things," Engelbert said at a press conference before Monday's WNBA draft. "You need committed long-term ownership groups, and so the nice thing is we're getting a lot of calls."

Engelbert went on to name a few of the cities behind those calls, saying that the league continues to engage in discussions with Philadelphia, Toronto, Portland, Denver, and Nashville, as well as South Florida.

"These can either take a very long time to negotiate or it can happen pretty quickly if you find the right ownership group with the right arena situation," Engelbert added.

The Commissioner's 16 team goal is not only good news for WNBA fans, it's great news for current and future WNBA players. At 12 teams with just 12 roster spots each, the league is held to a total of 144 players for any given season. An abundance of fresh talent coming up through the NCAA ranks has put pressure on the organization to make room for more worthy competitors, and four additional teams might be just the ticket.

Hellen Obiri claims back-to-back Boston Marathon wins

Hellen Obiri, winner of the women's division of the Boston Marathon, poses with the Boston Marathon trophy
Hellen Obiri, winner of the 2024 Boston Marathon's women's division, poses with her trophy. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Kenyan runner Hellen Obiri won the 128th Boston Marathon on Monday, becoming the first woman to claim back-to-back titles since 2005.

She clocked a total time of 2 hours, 27 minutes, and 37 seconds in a women's division that race organizers described as "historically fast."

"Defending the title was not easy," Obiri said. "Since Boston started, it's only six women [that have repeated]. If you want to be one of them, you have to work extra hard. And I'm so happy because I'm now one of them — I'm now in the history books."

A two-time Olympic silver medalist and two-time 5000m world champion, Obiri is a clear favorite in this summer’s Paris Olympics.

“Last year I was pretty familiar to the marathon, but this year my training was perfect — we trusted everything we were doing,” Obiri said. “When we won last year, of course I was saying I’m going to win this one. Winning is like love. It’s something precious to me.”

Though, she wasn’t without a challenge. Fellow Kenyan Sharon Lokedi finished a mere eight seconds behind Obiri. Edna Kiplagat, who won the 2017 Boston Marathon, completed the podium sweep for Kenya with a third place finish.

Emma Bates, the race's top American finisher, came in 12th.

Obiri wasn't alone in making Boston Marathon history this year. The repeat champ walked away with $150,000 in total prize money allocated from a purse that topped $1 million for the first time ever. 

College rivals Angel Reese, Kamilla Cardoso drafted to the Chicago Sky

Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso competing at the NCAA SEC Conference Tournament Championship
Once rivals, Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso are now teammates. (Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports)

The Chicago Sky made a splash in Monday night’s WNBA draft, taking Kamilla Cardoso and Angel Reese in the first round. 

South Carolina’s Cardoso, who was the 2024 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, went third to the Sky. The day before, the team had swapped picks with the Minnesota Lynx to land the No. 7 pick as well, which they used on Reese, the 2023 Final Four MOP.

Now, the two will team up in Chicago after battling each other in both college and high school

"She’s a great player, and I’m a great player. Nobody's going to get no rebounds on us," Cardoso joked afterwards, while Reese expressed excitement about playing under new Sky head coach Teresa Weatherspoon.

"Being able to be a Black woman and as a head coach, and everything she's done at the NBA level, I just knew everything they were bringing to the table," Reese said of the Sky. "Player development is something that I was looking for and they looked for in me. I'm super excited for this move."

Former NBA star and Chicago Sky co-owner Dwayne Wade welcomed the pair to Chicago.

“The foundation is set,” he wrote.

The Sky have entered re-building mode after winning a WNBA title in 2021. This offseason, they traded franchise cornerstone Kahleah Copper to the Phoenix Mercury for a package that included the No. 3 picked used on Cardoso.

Now, Cardoso and Reese will be looking to jump-start the team's return to contention.

Watch: Iowa star Kate Martin’s draft moment goes viral

Kate Martin poses with Cathy Engelbert after being drafted by the Las Vegas Aces during the 2024 WNBA Draft in New York
2nd-round pick Kate Martin poses with Cathy Engelbert Commissioner of the WNBA at the 2024 draft. (Photo by Catalina Fragoso/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former Iowa captain Kate Martin was in the audience during Monday night’s draft when she was selected 18th overall by the Las Vegas Aces. 

The moment quickly went viral, as Martin was in the crowd to support superstar teammate Caitlin Clark going No. 1 overall, and was not one of the 14 players invited to the draft.

"To be honest, I don't think I'd have the type of career if I don't have a teammate like Kate," Clark said about Martin leading up to the 2024 national championship game. "She's been one that has had my back. She holds me accountable. I hold her accountable. But I think at the same time, me and Kate are wired so similarly that we get each other on a different level."

Martin being drafted marks the first time that Iowa has had two players selected in the same WNBA draft since 1998.

“She's one of the best leaders I've been around," Clark said. "She wants the best for her teammates. She's one of the most selfless people."

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said Monday that she is “so proud” of her player, “because her dreams came true.”

"She has been such a big part of our program over the last six years,” she said. “Her efforts did not go unnoticed by her peers. I wish Kate all the success with this next step.”

Martin said afterward that she’s “excited for the opportunity” and to showcase her “really good” work ethic. Helping Iowa to back-to-back NCAA title games, Martin finished her college career with 1,299 points, 756 rebounds and 473 assists.

“There are a lot of emotions right now,” Martin said in an interview on ESPN. “I’m really happy to be here. I was here to support Caitlin, but I was hoping to hear my name called. All I wanted was an opportunity and I got it. I’m really excited.”

While Martin was watching from the crowd, her family was watching from back home.

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.