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NWSL playoffs: What to know heading into the semifinals

Portland Thorns forward Morgan Weaver makes a play for the ball against San Diego Wave defender Kaleigh Riehl. (Craig Mitchelldyer/USA TODAY Sports)

The NWSL playoffs continue Sunday with the semifinals. Four teams remain, and only two will advance to the NWSL Championship on Sunday, Oct. 29.

Just Women’s Sports takes a look at this weekend’s matchups.

Portland Thorns vs. San Diego Wave FC

When: 5 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Where: Providence Park, Portland
Regular Season Series Record: San Diego advantage, 1-0-1

While Portland bested San Diego twice in the preseason Challenge Cup, the Wave won the regular season series, recording a victory and a draw in two games against the Thorns.

The last time these two teams faced off, Kristen McNabb and Alex Morgan each found the back of the net in a 2-0 win for San Diego. In the previous match, Christine Sinclair and Sophia Smith gave Portland a 2-0 lead, but San Diego’s Taylor Kornieck notched a late brace to end the game in a tie.

Morgan played hero in the Wave’s first-round matchup against the Chicago Red Stars, scoring the game-winning goal in extra time front of an NWSL record crowd. But the Wave will face a tough test in the Thorns, who have already sold approximately 18,000 tickets to Sunday’s game.

Portland holds an equal to Morgan in her fellow MVP candidate Sophia Smith, and an equal to Rookie of the Year and Defender of the Year candidate Naomi Girma in fellow DOY candidate Becky Sauerbrunn. Can the Wave continue their improbable run in their first season in the league?

OL Reign forward Ally Watt brings the ball toward Kansas City Current keeper AD Franch. (Amy Kontras/USA TODAY Sports)

OL Reign vs. Kansas City Current

When: 7:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Where: Lumen Field, Seattle
Regular Season Series Record: Split, 1-1-0

OL Reign and Kansas City split their regular season matchups. The Current took a 1-0 victory on July 17, the most recent meeting between the clubs, but the Reign won 1-0 the first time around, showcasing just how evenly matched they are.

Kansas City has shown its brilliance throughout its second season in the city, including a 13-match unbeaten streak. But what’s most amazing about the Current is that anyone can play the hero. On Sunday, it was Kate Del Fava, who scored her first-ever NWSL goal to send the team to the semifinals. At other times, it’s been Lo’eau LaBonta or AD Franch.

OL Reign didn’t win the Shield for nothing. They’ve got two of the best defenders in the league in Alana Cook and Sofia Huerta, and Phallon Tullis-Joyce has been outstanding in net during her first year as starter.

Plus, both Laura Harvey and Matt Potter have been nominated for Coach of the Year. In short? It’s hard to tell which team will win this round, but this game is definitely a must-watch.