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NWSL Week 20 preview — racing to host the semis

The four playoff berths are secure as are the first and and last spots on the table.  Now the battle heats up for the right to host the semifinal opposite Seattle.  The Spirit are in command, but the Red Stars are laying in the weeds and FC Kansas City are not out of contention either.  One thing is for sure.  We won’t know the answer by the end of this weekend.


Chicago Red Stars (7-3-8) at Western New York Flash (5-8-5)
7:00 pm EDT, Sahlen’s Stadium
Watch:  Youtube
Series:  Flash lead, 3-2-3

Points of Interest:  The Red Stars are in the playoffs for the first time which is cause for joy in the Windy City.  But they have not won in six matches and are in the verge of a winless August.  They have preached confidence as their goal heading into their second match with the Flash in as many weeks.  The hosts will be shorthanded.  Their playoff hopes extinguished they shut down Jamia Fields and Lynn Williams—Williams will be out up to six months—and Brittany Taylor is not expected to play for non-injury reasons.  The Red Stars are also alive to host a semifinal but must outpoint the Spirit against whom they will lose all tiebreakers.

Sky Blue FC (5-7-6) at Seattle Reign FC (12-3-3)
10:00 pm EDT, Memorial Stadium
Watch:  Youtube
Series:  Reign lead, 3-2-2

Points of Interest:  The Reign will receive their NWSL Shield from Commissioner Jeff Plush before the match and then they will set out to complete a second consecutive undefeated home season since moving to Memorial Stadium.  One of their closest calls was last summer against Sky Blue when they were outplayed over long stretches of a scoreless draw.  Sky Blue earned another draw with the Reign earlier this season when a Jessica Fishlock handball on the goal line resulted in her sending off and a stoppage time penalty to equalize.


Boston Breakers (4-12-3) at Houston Dash (5-8-5)
8:30 pm EDT, BBVA Compass Stadium
Watch:  Youtube
Series:  tied, 2-2-0

Points of Interest:  Another forgettable season for the Breakers ends here as they will try to extend the Dash’s August woes and avoid going the entire season without a victory on the road.  A month ago the Dash looked like title contenders but they have lost four in a row and are now 0-9-0 in August over their two seasons.  The fan support at BBVA since the World Cup has been incredible.  The Dash will be looking for an all-too-rare home victory to close out the home season.

Washington Spirit (8-5-5) at Portland Thorns FC (6-8-4)
9:30 pm EDT, Providence Park
Watch:  FS1
Series:  Thorns lead, 4-1-2

Points of Interest:  The Spirit are the only one of the three teams battling for second place who have it all in front of them.  They win the tiebreaker over the Red Stars and have more max points than FC Kansas City so wins in their last two games will mean a semifinal at the SoccerPlex.  In this one they will be facing a Thorns side whose slim playoff hopes they extinguished in Thursday’s scoreless draw in Kansas City.  And they may want to get accustomed to the atmosphere at Providence Park where they hope to return in a month for the final.  A sellout crowd is expected to see off the Thorns who could never quite get things going once their squad got torn apart by World Cup callups.


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