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NWSL standings: Breaking down the three-way race for the Shield

(Craig Mitchelldyer/USA TODAY Sports)

With one weekend of regular-season NWSL play remaining, three teams remain locked in a race for the Shield.

The Portland Thorns, OL Reign and Kansas City Current all have clinched their playoff spots, the top spot in the league standings remains up for grabs. While they can sit back and watch as four teams battle for the final two postseason berths, they need to bring their best in their final matches if they want to take the Shield and the No. 1 seed.

Here’s what has to happen for each squad to secure the top spot:

Portland Thorns

The NWSL’s reigning regular-season champions, the Thorns have the clearest path to winning the Shield again.

Portland sits atop the standings with 38 points entering this weekend, and the team just needs to defeat Gotham FC on Saturday. Gotham is the league’s worst team, with a 4-17-0 record on the season.

The squads met once already, on July 16, and Portland secured an impressive 5-0 victory that included goals from five different players: Taylor Porter, Olivia Moultrie, Marissa Everett, Hannah Betfort and Morgan Weaver.

OL Reign

The playoff picture looks good for OL Reign. The squad already has clinched, and no matter what happens this weekend, they can’t finish any lower than fourth.

The squad is also riding a five-game unbeaten streak, with four wins and one draw, going into Saturday’s home contest against the Orlando Pride. Orlando already has been eliminated from playoff contention, and an OL Reign win is likely, but a victory won’t be enough for them to secure the Shield.

The Reign need both a win and a Thorns loss or draw.

Kansas City Current

Perhaps the most exciting story in the NWSL this season, Kansas City has gone from finishing in last place in 2021, with a 3-14-7 record, to securing a playoff spot this season.

The Current could cap that impressive journey with the Shield, but they face the most difficult path. Kansas City would need to defeat 10th-place Racing Louisville, and the Thorns would need to lose, and OL Reign would need a loss or a draw.