After being in first place for most of the season, the North Carolina Courage (15-6-0, 45 points) have a chance to lock up the NWSL Shield this week. If the Courage win and the Thorns lose or draw vs. the Pride, North Carolina will claim its first ever NWSL Shield.
The Portland Thorns still have a chance to become the second team to win the NWSL Shield in back-to-back seasons, but they’ll need a win on Saturday to stay in the hunt.
In 2014, the Reign won the NWSL Shield with only two losses and a record 16 wins and 54 points. Heading into Week 21 of this season, the Courage have 15 wins and 45 points. With three games remaining, they can break the record for wins in a season and would need all nine points to tie Seattle’s 54-point mark.Previous NWSL Shield winners:
2013: Western New York Flash (10-4-8, 38 pts)
2014: Seattle Reign FC (16-2-6, 54 pts)
2015: Seattle Reign FC (13-3-4, 43 pts)
2016: Portland Thorns FC (12-3-5, 41 pts)
The Reign repeated as Shield winners in 2015 with just three losses that season. Over a span of two years, the Reign lost just five total games. Fittingly, in 2015, the Reign lifted their trophy in the rain.
The Thorns claimed their 2016 Shield in this season’s opener on April 15.
No NWSL Shield winner has ever gone on to win the NWSL Championship. The first three winners all fell in the final and the Flash ousted the Thorns in a thrilling semifinal last season.