The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

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But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

The NWSL is back in action this weekend following the June international break, as stars look to showcase Olympic form while clubs aim to build momentum going into the latter half of the season.

All but four clubs have played 11 games, with Orlando, Kansas City, and Washington beginning to separate themselves from the pack at the top of the NWSL table. But it’s close quarters across places four through eight, with just seven points separating the teams as the league prepares for the most-expanded postseason in NWSL history.

Orlando and Kansas City are riding unbeaten streaks, with the Pride on a historic eight-game winning streak. Forward Barbra Banda is the leader of the charge, with eight goals through just seven NWSL games played. She’s tied with Portland’s Sophia Smith in the Golden Boot race.

With more than half the season to play, both Banda and Smith could be at a pace to contend for Sam Kerr's single-season NWSL scoring record of 18 goals.

While the top three NWSL teams will go up against the bottom three this weekend, all eyes will be on Chicago where the Red Stars will play Bay FC in their first-ever match at historic Wrigley Field.

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The Red Stars are aiming to break the NWSL single-game attendance record, as they take the field inside the Chicago city limits for the first time since 2022. As of May 23rd, Chicago had sold 22,000 tickets, chipping away at Seattle's record of 34,130 when in 2023.

A couple of marquee signings and one key absence highlight an eventful international break in the NWSL. 

On Thursday, the Kansas City Current announced that star defender Gabrielle Robinson is out for the season with an ACL tear. Robinson, the only Current defender to start and play every minute of the team’s first 10 games, sustained the injury during the team’s 1-0 win over Utah.

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"Gabby has been one of the league's best defenders this year and we are heartbroken for her," Current head coach Vlatko Andonovski said in a team release. "She has worked so hard to make an impact on our club. She has one of the best attitudes around this injury and we are confident she will make a full return as she tackles her recovery process with a positive attitude.

"Her teammates have been incredibly supportive, and we have talented players that will be able to step in during her absence."

The Current are one of just two undefeated teams left in the NWSL, sitting second behind the Orlando Pride. The Pride, running off an eight-game win streak, announced the signing of Zambian midfielder Grace Chanda on Thursday. 

Her Zambia national team co-star Barbra Banda joined the Pride earlier this season, and currently tops the Golden Boot race with eight goals in seven games for Orlando. Chanda is set to join the Pride after the Summer Olympics. 

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Chanda played the last two years for Madrid CFF, making 28 appearances for the club. While she helped Zambia qualify for last summer’s Women's World Cup, she missed the tournament due to illness.

"I am extremely excited to join Orlando. It is a great club, where I will be able to play alongside amazing players, like Marta and Barbra," Chanda said in a statement. "This is a very important step in my life because I have always wanted to play in the NWSL, one of the best leagues in the world."

Also announcing a big-name pick-up is the Washington Spirit, who are set to add Manchester City defender Esme Morgan to the lineup. 

Morgan made 53 appearances over her seven seasons with Manchester City, which included time spent on loan to Everton. A member of the England national team, she was named to the Women’s World Cup squad last summer.

Two NWSL teams avoided some major setbacks on Thursday, as both Portland’s Morgan Weaver and Orlando’s Angelina were cleared of season-ending injuries after undergoing scope procedures earlier this week. 

Angelina has been described by her club as "week-to-week," while Weaver has been placed on Portland’s 45-day injury list. 

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The Thorns won their May 4th game without Weaver 2-1, continuing their season turnaround, while the Pride remain one of two unbeaten teams in the NWSL.

In other injury list news, Christen Press posted a video on Thursday of her running with a trainer and doing drills, providing further updates on her road back from a June 2022 ACL tear.

Angel City coach Becki Tweed has told reporters that Press is back with the team, but has not issued a timetable for her return to the field.

This week, legendary Brazilian superstar Marta announced that she’ll retire from the national team at the end of 2024.

In an interview with CNN Esportes published Thursday, the iconic footballer confirmed that she would be hanging up her boots regardless of whether or not she ends up making Brazil's 18-player roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics. 

“If I go to the Olympics, I will enjoy every moment, because regardless of whether I go to the Olympics or not, this is my last year with the national team,” she said. “There is no longer Marta in the national team as an athlete from 2025 onwards.”

Marta will retire as a giant of the women's game, having appeared in five Olympics and multiple World Cups. When discussing her retirement, she stressed confidence in the rising generation of Brazilian players, noting that she was, “very calm about this, because I see with great optimism this development that we are having in relation to young athletes." 

The statement echoes back to a plea she made during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup after Brazil lost to France 2-1 in the Round of 16. “It's wanting more. It's training more. It's taking care of yourself more. It's being ready to play 90 plus 30 minutes. This is what I ask of the girls,” she said then, addressing the young players following in her footsteps. 

In 2023, she signaled a farewell to World Cup competition with the same sentiment, telling media, “We ask the new generation to continue where we left off.”

If selected for the 2024 Olympic team, Marta has a shot at extending her own consecutive-scoring record with the ability to score in an unbelievable sixth-straight Olympic Games. She currently stands as Brazil’s top goalscorer, racking up 116 career goals in 175 matches, as well as the leading goalscorer in any World Cup, women’s or men’s, with 17 to her name. 

Marta will continue to play for the NWSL’s Orlando Pride through at least the end of 2024. The longtime forward and club captain has already contributed to multiple goals this season.

Crystal Dunn may be heading to 2023 NWSL champions Gotham FC for the 2024 season, with there reportedly being “mutual interest” between the sides.

Dunn is one of the NWSL’s biggest free agents this offseason, having announced in November that she would not return to Portland. Now, according to The Equalizer, Gotham is in the mix to sign the World Cup and three-time NWSL champion. The New York/New Jersey team has eyed Dunn since last season, the report says.

The midfielder grew up in New York and played college soccer on the East Coast for the University of North Carolina. She also spent time with the Washington Spirit and North Carolina Courage before being traded to Portland in 2020.

The news of the mutual interest comes after CBS Sports reported that the Orlando Pride could offer Dunn more than $400,000. But, according to Steph Yang of The Athletic, the Pride confirmed they made a “significant offer” to Dunn, but that they are no longer in talks with the star.

The Spirit are also reportedly interested in signing Dunn, but the 2021 NWSL champions have yet to fill their head coaching vacancy.

Dunn is one of several high-profile stars on the free agency market this NWSL offseason.

The Utah Royals have their first player, acquiring Mikayla Cluff via trade from the Orlando Pride.

The 24-year-old midfielder is a native of Kaysville, Utah, and played for BYU in college, scoring 53 goals through 93 appearances and finishing as a finalist for the Hermann Trophy in 2021. She already is in her home state preparing for the 2024 NWSL season, which will mark the Royals’ return to the league as an expansion team.

“While I’ve enjoyed my time in Orlando over the last two seasons, I’m extremely excited to return to play in my hometown and bring back this club for the state and for the fans,” Cluff said in a news release.

In the trade, the Royals received Cluff, who is under contract through the 2025 season, as well as the No. 26 pick in the 2024 college draft. The Pride received expansion draft protection and $90,000 in allocation money.

Bay FC and the Utah Royals will have the opportunity to select up to 12 players through the 12-round expansion draft, but the Pride already have acquired protection from both expansion teams.

The original Royals franchise played in the NWSL from 2018 through 2020. At the end of the 2020 season, the team folded, and their players were transferred to the Kansas City Current. Real Salt Lake owners David Blitzer and Ryan Smith are reestablishing the franchise.

Cluff played for the Utah Royals FC Reserves in 2019, making 12 appearances and scoring eight goals in the amateur team’s inaugural WPSL season. In her time with the Pride, Cluff had four goals through 40 appearances.

“We’re so excited to welcome Mikayla back to Utah,” Royals head coach Amy Rodriguez said in a news release. “A player who has had so much success in the state at both the collegiate and high school level and has now shown to be an excellent NWSL player. She offers versatility in the midfield, which is so valuable in an expansion year.

“When evaluating players, we also put a big emphasis on their character and Mikayla is a great first step in building the culture we want in our locker room. We know how much she is loved in this state, and we can’t wait for our fans to cheer her on in Utah again.”

The 2023 NWSL Championship is just around the corner, with Gotham FC and OL Reign facing off for the title.

No matter which team wins, the league will see a first-time champion. Gotham had not won a playoff game until this season, while the Reign claimed their first postseason win since 2015.

Gotham squeaked into the playoffs with the sixth and final berth, but they upset the No. 3 North Carolina Courage and then the No. 2 Portland Thorns. The No. 5 Reign bested No. 4 Angel City FC in the quarterfinals, then upset the No. 1 San Diego Wave in the semifinals.

The NWSL Championship is set for 8 p.m. ET Saturday, Nov. 11, at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium.

2023 NWSL playoffs: Seeding

Six teams will compete in the 2023 NWSL playoffs, with the top two seeds receiving byes to the semifinal round.

  1. San Diego Wave — 37 points, 11-4-7 W-D-L
  2. Portland Thorns — 35 points, 10-5-7
  3. North Carolina Courage — 33 points, 9-6-7
  4. OL Reign — 32 points, 9-5-8
  5. Angel City FC — 31 points, 8-7-7
  6. Gotham FC — 31 points, 8-7-7

Six teams did not make the cut for the postseason.

  • Orlando Pride — 31 points, 10-1-11
  • Washington Spirit — 30 points, 7-9-6
  • Racing Louisville — 27 points, 6-9-7
  • Houston Dash — 26 points, 6-8-8
  • Kansas City Current — 26 points, 8-2-12
  • Chicago Red Stars — 24 points, 7-3-12

2023 NWSL playoffs: Schedule

Quarterfinals

Semifinals

NWSL Championship

  • (4) OL Reign vs. (6) Gotham FC
    • 8 p.m. ET Saturday, Nov. 11 — CBS

The NWSL playoff race is coming down to the wire, with eight teams vying for the final four spots in simultaneous matches on the final day of the regular season.

Just four points separate the third- and 10th-place teams in the standings. While the Chicago Red Stars and Kansas City Current already have been eliminated, the Houston Dash, Racing Louisville, Angel City FC, Orlando Pride, OL Reign, Washington Spirit, Gotham FC and North Carolina Courage are all still fighting for postseason berths.

While the Portland Thorns and San Diego Wave are locked into the top two seeds, those teams are fighting for the NWSL Shield, adding to the drama.

Check out the playoff scenarios here.

NWSL Decision Day: Schedule for Oct. 14

  • North Carolina Courage 1, Washington Spirit 0
  • NJ/NY Gotham FC 2, Kansas City Current 2
  • Orlando Pride 1, Houston Dash 0
  • OL Reign 3, Chicago Red Stars 0
  • Angel City FC 5, Portland Thorns 1
  • San Diego Wave FC 2, Racing Louisville 0

All games will be aired on Paramount+ at 5 p.m. ET Sunday. CBS Sports Network is also set to air a live whiparound show tracking the progress from each match and evolving playoff scenarios.

Just Women’s Sports will be updating this story with live results from each game.

With one matchweek remaining in the NWSL regular season, just two teams have clinched playoff berths, and just two teams have been eliminated from contention.

A mere six points separate first and sixth place in the standings, and five points separate sixth and 12th place. That sets up a frantic finish to the playoff race, with the Portland Thorns and San Diego Wave already into the postseason and eight other teams vying to join them.

Prepare for a chaotic decision day at 5 p.m. ET Sunday, with four playoff spots on the line. Just Women’s Sports breaks down the postseason picture, with help from Alison Gale’s playoff explorer. CBS Sports Network will feature whiparound coverage of all six matches.

NWSL playoff-clinching scenarios: Oct. 15

Portland Thorns FC (35 points, +14 goal differential)

  • Already clinched:
    • Top 2-seed
    • First-round bye
  • Clinches Shield with:
    • A win
    • SD loss
    • A draw + SD draw
    • A loss by seven goals or less + SD draw

San Diego Wave FC (34 points, +7)

  • Already clinched:
    • Top 2-seed
    • First-round bye
  • Clinches Shield with:
    • A win + POR draw/loss
    • A draw + POR loss by eight goals or more

North Carolina Courage (30 points, +6)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win
    • A draw
    • A draw + NJY draw/loss OR RGN draw/loss OR ORL draw/loss OR LA draw/loss
    • A draw + favorable goal differential (over LA/ORL)
    • A loss + no more than three of NJY, RGN, ORL, LA reach 31+ points + favorable goal differential (over LOU)

NJ/NY Gotham FC (30 points, +1)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win
    • A draw + RGN draw/loss OR ORL draw/loss OR LA draw/loss
    • A draw + favorable goal differential (over LA/ORL if both win)
    • A loss + no more than three of NCC, WAS, RGN, ORL, LA reach 31+ points + favorable goal differential (over LOU)

Washington Spirit (30 points, -2)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win
    • A draw + NJY loss OR RGN draw/loss OR ORL draw/loss OR LA draw/loss
    • A draw + favorable goal differential (over LA/ORL if both win)
    • A loss + no more than 3 of NJY, RGN, ORL, LA reach 31+ points + favorable goal differential (over LOU)

OL Reign (29 points, +2)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win
    • A draw + no more than 3 of NCC, NJY, WAS, ORL, LA, reach 31+ pts + favorable goal differential
    • A loss + ORL draw/loss + LA draw/loss + LOU draw/loss + favorable goal differential

Orlando Pride (28 points, -2)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win + favorable goal differential
    • A win + NJY loss OR RGN draw/loss OR LA draw/loss
    • A draw + RGN loss + LA draw/loss + LOU draw/loss + favorable goal differential

Angel City FC (28 points, -3)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win + favorable goal differential
    • A win + WAS win/loss + ORL loss/draw OR RGN draw/loss OR NJY loss

Racing Louisville FC (27 points, +3)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win + no more than three of NCC, NJY, WAS, RGN, ORL, LA reach 31+ points + favorable goal differential

Houston Dash (26 points, -1)

  • Clinches a playoff spot with:
    • A win + RGN loss + LOU draw/loss + LA draw/loss + favorable goal differential

NWSL schedule: Oct. 15

  • All games kick off at 5 p.m. ET Sunday
    • Angel City FC vs. Portland Thorns
    • Chicago Red Stars vs. OL Reign
    • Gotham FC vs. Kansas City Current
    • Orlando Pride vs. Houston Dash
    • San Diego Wave vs. Racing Louisville FC
    • Washington Spirit vs. North Carolina Courage