NWSL playoff scenarios: Seven-way tie off table, but Thorns clinch spot

Portland has clinched its spot in the playoffs. (Craig Mitchelldyer/USA TODAY Sports)

The NWSL playoff picture became a little clearer Wednesday, as one team clinched its spot in the postseason and others moved a few steps closer.

Portland Thorns clinch playoff berth

The Thorns took a 3-0 win over Racing Louisville, bringing their point total to 35 and putting them in first place in the league standings.

The playoff race remains tight, so they could finish anywhere from first to sixth, but they cannot fall farther than that sixth and final playoff spot.

The Chicago Red Stars (30 points) and Angel City FC (29) sit in sixth and seventh place, respectively, but only one — not both — of these teams could tie or surpass the Thorns by the end of the regular season, which assures Portland a postseason berth.

Megan Rapinoe kills seven-way tie

Megan Rapinoe played hero for OL Reign in their 1-0 win over NJ/NY Gotham FC, scoring the game’s lone goal on a penalty kick in the 58th minute.

The victory by the Seattle club killed the specter of a seven-way tie for first place. Still, plenty of chaos remains on the table.

Gotham FC has been out of playoff contention for several weeks, but they now can claim the distinction of owning the longest losing streak in a single season in league history. They have lost 11 matches in a row dating back to July 16.

So who’s left?

With a 3-0 loss to the North Carolina Courage, the Orlando Pride were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Both Angel City and North Carolina remain in the race after winning their matches Wednesday.

With 29 points, Angel City has pulled within a point of Chicago (30) in sixth place, while North Carolina (28) sits two points back of the final playoff spot. Between these three, North Carolina holds the edge in goal differential.

Both Kansas City and Houston are tied with 33 points apiece, but Houston holds the edge in goal differential. Similarly, San Diego and OL Reign each have 34 points, but the Wave hold the edge.

Just seven points separating the Thorns in first place and the Courage in eighth place heading into the penultimate weekend of the regular season.

  1. Portland Thorns FC, 35 pts (+22 GD)
  2. San Diego Wave FC, 34 pts (+11 GD)
  3. OL Reign, 34 pts (+8 GD)
  4. Houston Dash, 33 pts (+9 GD)
  5. Kansas City Current, 33 pts (-2 GD)
  6. Chicago Red Stars, 30 pts (+7 GD)
  7. Angel City FC, 29 pts (0 GD)
  8. North Carolina Courage, 28 pts (+10 GD)
  9. Orlando Pride, 21 pts (eliminated)
  10. Washington Spirit, 19 pts (eliminated)
  11. Racing Louisville FC, 17 pts (eliminated)
  12. NJ/NY Gotham FC, 12 pts (eliminated)