NWSL Playoffs: Portland host Gotham, Reign welcome Wave for semi-finals

Portland Thorns' Sophia Smith and Crystal Dunn.
Portland Thorns' Sophia Smith and Crystal Dunn look on against the OL Reign at Lumen Field on June 03, 2023. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) road to the championship continues on Sunday, November 5. In the NWSL Playoffs NJ/NY Gotham FC travels to Providence Park to play the Portland Thorns, while OL Reign travels to Snapdragon Stadium to face the San Diego Wave.

Before the recent international break, the two quarterfinal games occurred. No. 6 Gotham faced No. 3 North Carolina Courage, where they prevailed 2-0. The other match featured No. 4 OL Reign and No. 5 Angel City FC, where OL Reign captured the 1-0 win.

Gotham’s win was the first playoff win for a sixth seed in league history and the first in club history. OL Reign’s win means another game for retiring forward Megan Rapinoe.

Portland Thorns vs NJ/NY Gotham FC

The Gotham vs. Thorns game will be the first one up on Sunday. Portland remembers when Gotham denied them of winning the shield last season as the teams tied 3-3 on the final day of the NWSL season. The Thorns will seek revenge and a trip to the NWSL Championship for the second consecutive year.

The last time these two teams met in the regular season was on October 7, when Portland won 1-0. Gotham had a solid start to the year but had trouble in the last few games as they tallied some losses. The Thorns had their ups and downs, including a 5-1 loss to Angel City on the final day of the season to once again lose the shield for the second year in a row.

Embed from Getty Images

Portland’s star striker Sophia Smith won the Golden Boot this year with 11 goals. She’ll be the biggest threat for Gotham in this match. Conversely, Lynn Williams has had a significant impact since joining the East Coast team. Williams scored seven goals and had four assists in the regular season.

Portland finished the season with a 10-7-5 record, while Gotham had an 8-7-7 record. The Thorns have the upper hand on the overall record between the two teams, as they’ve gone 7-1-6 in all competitions against the East Coast side.

San Diego Wave FC vs OL Reign

The second semifinal features shield winner San Diego Wave and West Coast team OL Reign. Depending on the outcome, it may be the final game for USWNT legend Megan Rapinoe. If the Wave wins, it will be their first championship appearance.

The last time these two teams met was before the World Cup international break on June 24. The Reign won this matchup 2-1. They’ve had the upper hand this season as they defeated the Wave again at the beginning of the campaign. Both teams did finish the season strong as they both won on decision day.

Embed from Getty Images

For the Wave, strikers Alex Morgan and Jaedyn Shaw are the two to watch. Morgan finished with seven goals on the season, and Shaw with six. For the Reign, Bethany Balcer led with six goals, and fellow forwards Veronica Latsko and Jordyn Huitema were joint second with five goals.

The Reign have never lost to the Wave in all competitions. Despite the head-to-head record favoring the Reign, the Wave topped the league with a record of 11-7-4, while the Reign finished with a record of 9-8-5.

How to watch

The Gotham vs. Thorns game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network for fans in the US. Soon after, the Wave vs. Reign match starts at 9:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.

Both games will stream on NWSLsoccer.com for international viewers.

MORE from Her Football Hub: