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Where EAST meets the Northwest


 

Nadia Nadim. (AR Photo/Jan Landis)

Lindsey Horan. (AR Photo/Jan Landis)

Christine Sinclair. (AR Photo/Jan Landis)

NWSL PLAYOFFS. Nadia Nadim of the Portland Thorns dribbles the ball during the team’s final regular-season National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) match against the Chicago Red Stars at Providence Park on September 30, 2017. The Thorns, who finished league play in second place, are hosting a home playoff game for the second year in a row. The semifinal match against the Orlando Pride will be held at Providence Park on Saturday, October 7 at 12:30pm. (AR Photo/Jan Landis)

From The Asian Reporter, V27, #19 (October 2, 2017), page 8.

Teams set for the 2017 NWSL playoffs

The Portland Thorns are hosting a home playoff game for the second year in a row in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The team’s semifinal match against the Orlando Pride will be held at Providence Park on Saturday, October 7 at 12:30pm. In the other semifinal game, the North Carolina Courage take on the Chicago Red Stars at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in North Carolina on Saturday, October 8 at 12:30pm.

Both playoff games, as well as the championship match on Saturday, October 14 at Orlando City Stadium, are televised live on Lifetime.

In an interesting twist of regular-season scheduling, the four teams that had secured playoff berths prior to the final weekend of league games played each other, with results of the two matches impacting final placements in the playoff bracket.

First-place North Carolina (16-7-1, 49 points) — which features Abby Erceg, Lynn Williams, Yuri Kawamura (currently on the disabled list), and others — fell 2-3 to the Orlando Pride (11-6-7, 40 points) — which includes Marta, Chioma Ubogagu, Alex Morgan, and others — in front of 7,020 fans. Stalwart defender Erceg has anchored the Courage backline this season, holding opposing teams to only 22 goals, the second-fewest allowed in the league.

At Providence Park in front of a sellout crowd of 21,144 fans, second-place Thorns FC (14-5-5, 47 points) — featuring Nadia Nadim, Christine Sinclair, Tobin Heath, and others — defeated the Chicago Red Stars (11-7-6, 39 points) — which includes Yuki Nagasato, Sofia Huerta, Danielle Colaprico, and others — by a score of 3-1.

Orlando’s win coupled with Chicago’s loss allowed the Pride to jump into third place, pushing the Red Stars down to fourth place.

The Thorns ended the regular season just two points behind North Carolina, who took home the NWSL Shield, which is awarded to the club with the best regular-season record.

Seattle Reign FC, whose roster includes Nahomi "Naho" Kawasumi, Rumi Utsugi, Megan Rapinoe, and others, ended its season in fifth place with 34 points and an overall record of 9-8-7, missing the playoffs. Naho topped the NWSL assist chart this season with nine.

Sky Blue FC, a club with players such as Sam Kerr, Tasha Kai, Christie Pearce, and others, will also be watching the playoffs from home despite multiple-goal performances by Kerr and her squad in the latter part of the season.

The Australian playmaker scored her 17th goal of the year over the weekend, which broke the all-time NWSL record for most goals in a single season. Kerr already owns the all-time NWSL record for most career goals, with her most-recent tally placing her at 43 goals overall.

Sky Blue finished just a point behind the Reign in sixth place with a 10-11-3 record and 33 points.

The Thorns squad broke several club and league records this year, including two involving home attendance. In 12 matches held at Providence Park, 211,830 fans — an average of 17,653 per game — wildly cheered on their team. The 2017 numbers resulted in new NWSL records for both total and average attendance in one season.

Portland this year also had the best home record — 10 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie — in the league, which set a new single-season record for home wins at Providence Park and stands as the best home record in the NWSL this year. In addition, the team allowed the least number of goals against — 20 — and goalkeeper Adrianna Franch posted a league-leading 11th shutout during the regular season.

Portland, North Carolina, Orlando, and Chicago are now the four clubs vying for the 2017 NWSL championship. Past winners have included the Thorns in the inaugural 2013 season, FC Kansas City in 2014 and 2015, and the Western New York Flash (now the North Carolina Courage) in 2016.

Providence Park is located at the corner of S.W. 18th Avenue and Morrison Street in Portland. To learn more, or to buy tickets for the October 7 semifinal match, call (503) 553-5555 or visit <www.portlandthornsfc.com>.

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