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Why each NWSL playoff team will (and won’t) win the Championship

If you’re looking for equal parts optimism and pessimism ahead of the NWSL playoffs, we’re here for you.

6 min read

The NWSL delivered its first Decision Day on Sunday, and it did not disappoint. All 12 teams were in action simultaneously, with eight teams vying for four remaining playoff spots. We were treated to bicycle-kick goals, full-extension saves, and just about everything in between. 

Now, the playoff picture is set. Six teams have a shot at winning the NWSL Championship in November, and I’m here to tell you why your favorite team will (or won’t!) capture a title. Let’s get started.

San Diego Wave

Why they will: The Wave are peaking at the right time. In the last seven regular season games following Challenge Cup play, they earned the most points of all NWSL teams (16).

San Diego own the best defensive record in the league, having allowed the fewest expected goals, according to FBref. Their impressive form and defending led to San Diego’s first NWSL Shield, marking the first time a true expansion team has won the regular season in NWSL history. Plus, if they win their home semi-final, they’ll be playing for the Championship title at home, since the final is at Snapdragon Stadium this year. 

Why they won’t: San Diego have had a bit of an up-and-down campaign. Aside from the fact that they went on a nine-game winless streak in the middle of the season, they’ve struggled against both of their potential semi-final opponents. They lost four straight games against the Reign in all competitions this season, and only managed a single win in their four-game series with Angel City.

To state the obvious, San Diego won’t win the Championship if they can’t make it past the semis.

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