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OCT 27
3:30 PM ET
ESPN
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Playoff Picture: Courage can clinch with win Wednesday over Spirit
As the end of the season approaches, the NWSL playoff picture is coming into focus
Midfielder McCall Zerboni in action for the North Carolina Courage. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)
Midfielder McCall Zerboni in action for the North Carolina Courage. (Photo credit: Andy Mead/isiphotos.com)

The Courage can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win over the Spirit on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET). Though the Spirit have been eliminated from playoff contention, they can delay North Carolina’s entry into the playoffs with a win or draw over the No. 1 team in the league.

Following Week 18’s games, there was no change in the top four teams as the Courage, Thorns, Red Stars and Pride remain in playoff position. Though both teams are tied on points, Chicago holds the third spot over Orlando because the first tiebreak in the NWSL is head-to-head and the Red Stars are 2-0-1 vs. the Pride this season.

Here’s a look at where each team sits in the NWSL standings, their remaining schedule and their magic number to clinch a playoff spot.

1. NORTH CAROLINA COURAGE

13-5-0, 39 pts

Goal Differential: +12
Games Remaining: 6
Max Points Possible: 57
Magic Number: 3
Elimination Number:

Remaining schedule:

  • Wed., Aug. 30: at Washington Spirit
  • Sun., Sep. 3: at Red Stars
  • Sat., Sep. 9: vs. Dash
  • Sun., Sep. 24: at Sky Blue FC
  • Sat., Sep. 30: vs. Pride
  • TBD: Postponed game at Dash

2. PORTLAND THORNS FC

11-5-4, 37 pts

Goal Differential: +10
Games Remaining: 4
Max Points Possible: 49
Magic Number: 5
Elimination Number:

Remaining schedule:

  • Sat., Sept. 2: vs. Spirit
  • Sun., Sept. 10: at Breakers
  • Sat., Sept. 23: at Pride
  • Sat., Sept. 30: vs. Red Stars

3. CHICAGO RED STARS

9-6-5, 32 pts

Goal Differential: +3
Games Remaining: 4
Max Points Possible: 44
Magic Number: 10
Elimination Number:

Remaining schedule:

  • Sun., Sept. 3: vs. Courage
  • Sat., Sept. 9: at FC Kansas City
  • Sat., Sept. 23: at Dash
  • Sat., Sept. 30: at Thorns FC

4. ORLANDO PRIDE

9-6-5, 32 pts

Goal Differential: +11
Games Remaining: 4
Max Points Possible: 44
Magic Number: 10
Elimination Number:

Remaining schedule:

  • Sat., Sept. 2: vs. Breakers
  • Sat., Sept. 9: vs. Reign FC
  • Sat., Sept. 23: vs. Thorns FC
  • Sat., Sept. 30: at Courage

5. SKY BLUE FC

9-9-2, 29 pts

Goal Differential: -6
Games Remaining: 4
Max Points Possible: 41
Magic Number:
Elimination Number: 10

Remaining schedule:

  • Sun., Sept. 3: at FC Kansas City
  • Sun., Sept. 10: vs. Spirit
  • Sun., Sept. 24: vs. Courage
  • Sat., Sept. 30: at Breakers

6. SEATTLE REIGN FC

7-7-6, 27 pts

Goal Differential: +5
Games Remaining: 4
Max Points Possible: 39
Magic Number:
Elimination Number: 8

Remaining schedule:

  • Sun., Sept. 3: at Dash
  • Sat., Sept. 9: at Pride
  • Sun., Sept. 24: vs. FC Kansas City
  • Sun., Sept. 30: at Spirit

7. FC KANSAS CITY

6-9-5, 23 pts

Goal Differential: -6
Games Remaining: 4
Max Points Possible: 35
Magic Number:
Elimination Number: 4

Remaining schedule:

  • Sun., Sept. 3: vs. Sky Blue FC
  • Sat., Sept. 9: vs. Red Stars
  • Sun., Sept. 24: at Reign FC
  • Fri., Sept. 29: vs. Dash

8. HOUSTON DASH

7-10-2, 23 pts

Goal Differential: -9
Games Remaining: 5
Max Points Possible: 38
Magic Number:
 Elimination Number: 7

Remaining schedule:

  • Sun., Sept. 3: vs. Reign FC
  • Sat., Sept. 9: at Courage
  • Sat., Sept. 23: vs. Red Stars
  • Fri., Sept. 29: at FC Kansas City
  • TBD: Postponed game vs. Courage

9. BOSTON BREAKERS

3-10-7, 16 pts

Goal Differential: -10
Games Remaining: 5
Max Points Possible: 28
Magic Number:
Eliminated from playoff contention

Remaining schedule:

  • Sat., Sept. 2: at Pride
  • Sun., Sept. 10: vs. Thorns FC
  • Sat., Sept. 23: at Spirit
  • Sat., Sept. 30: vs. Sky Blue FC

10. WASHINGTON SPIRIT

4-11-4, 16 pts

Goal Differential: -10
Games Remaining: 5
Max Points Possible: 31
Magic Number:
Eliminated from playoff contention

Remaining schedule:

  • Wed., Aug. 30: vs. Courage
  • Sat., Sept. 2: at Thorns FC
  • Sun., Sept. 10: at Sky Blue FC
  • Sat., Sept. 23: vs. Breakers
  • Sat., Sept. 30: vs. Reign FC

 


Magic Number formula*
The Magic Number for a team to clinch a playoff spot is determined by subtracting that team’s current points total from the maximum number of points possible for the fifth-place team, then adding one.

Elimination Number Formula*
The Elimination Number for a team to confirm their exclusion from the playoffs is determined by subtracting that team’s maximum number of possible points from the current number of points of the fourth-place team, then adding one.

* = The Magic Number or Elimination Number for each team does not reflect scenarios that require tiebreakers. Tiebreaker scenarios are required when a team’s Magic Number or Elimination Number is 1.

 

Tiebreaker Procedures To Break a Tie in the Standings

If two or more teams are tied on points at the end of the regular season, the tie will be broken through the following steps:

Two teams

1.Head-to-head record
2.Overall goal difference
3.Overall goals scored
4.Head-to-head road record
5.Goal difference in all road games
6.Goals scored in all road games
7.Head-to-head home record
8.Goal difference in all home games
9.Goals scored in all home games
10.Coin toss

Three teams

1.Points per game against other two teams

2.Overall goal difference

3. See tiebreaker procedure for two-team scenarios
NOTE: If two teams are still tied after the third team has advanced via the tiebreaker, the tie will be broken using the two-team tiebreaker rules.

 

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