(CBS New York) — The National Women’s Soccer League playoffs kick off this Sunday, November 7. The action starts with quarterfinal matchups between the fourth-seeded Chicago Red Stars and fifth-seeded NJ/NY Gotham FC and between the third-seeded Washington Spirit and sixth-seeded North Carolina Courage. The former matchup will air on CBS Sports Network and the latter on Paramount+.
The Red Stars, led by Mallory Pugh, Casey Krueger, Sarah Gorden and Kealia Watt, will be making their sixth-straight playoff appearance. Gordon, one of the team’s top defenders, played every minute of the team’s 24 matches this season. Gotham FC features soccer legend Carli Lloyd, who is retiring after the season.
The 2021 Golden Boot winner Ashley Hatch leads the Spirit against the Courage, featuring star rookie Trinity Rodman and goalkeeper Casey Murphy, who has recorded 11 clean sheets this season.
The Portland Thorns FC topped the regular-season standings with a record of 13-6-5, followed closely by the OL Reign at 13-8-3. The Reign were NWSL’s top-scoring team. Both have earned a quarterfinal bye. Portland will face the winner of the Chicago-NJ/NY matchup. OL will meet the winner of the Washington/North Carolina matchup. Both semifinal matchups will take place Sunday, November 14 on CBS Sports Network.
The NWSL finals will be played Saturday, November 20 on CBS and Paramount+.
The Courage will be playing for their third consecutive NWSL playoff title after winning the championship in 2018 and 2019. The 2020 regular season and playoffs were cancelled because of the COVID pandemic. (The League did play a 25-game tournament that summer, known as the Challenge Cup, as well as the Fall Series a few months later.) Chicago, who fell to North Carolina in the 2019 championship, return to the playoffs as well, seeking a better outcome.
Gotham FC appears in the postseason for the first time since 2013 and the Spirit for the first time since 2016, when they made the championship.