Megan Rapinoe scored two goals in three minutes at the start of the second half as OL Reign won 3-0 at the Chicago Red Stars and finished fourth. Jess Fishlock added a 59th-minute goal for the Reign, who assured one at least more home match at Seattle’s Lumen Field in the 38-year-old Rapinoe’s final season.
San Diego finished 11-7-4 and as top seed has a bye for the opening round of the playoffs.
Eight teams entered Sunday in contention for four remaining playoff spots, with every NWSL game kicking off simultaneously. The Reign, North Carolina Courage, Angel City and Gotham secured those final four spots.
The playoffs open on Friday with Angel City at the Reign. The winner advances to play at San Diego on Nov. 5 in the semifinals. The winner of Sunday’s quarterfinal between Gotham and the Courage in North Carolina will advance to a semifinal in Portland against the Thorns. The final is at San Diego on Nov. 11.
Before 30,312 fans at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium, Shaw dribbled by multiple players and slotted into the right corner in the 26th minute for her sixth goal this season. Morgan scored from the top of the penalty area in the 47th.
“It just means the world. We came into this game just acting like, if we do our job and get a little luck then we’ve got this,” Morgan said. “I feel like we dominated from start to finish. It was really a complete game for this team, and I’m really proud of this team.”
Portland (10-7-5) entered the weekend in first place but lost 5-1 at Angel City and finished second. Hina Sugita got Portland’s goal in the 79th minute.
The Thorns managed to get Smith into the match for 30 minutes as the forward continued her return from a sprained right medial collateral ligament sustained on Aug. 27.
Tyler Lussi’s 25th-minute goal from close range following a cross gave the Courage a 1-0 win at the Washington Spirit, earning North Carolina third place and eliminating the Spirit. Trinity Rodman was given a red card for a dangerous challenge in the 23rd minute.
Angel City moved up from eighth place to fifth in front of a sellout crowd of 22,000 at BMO Stadium in Los Angeles, earning a playoff spot in its second season. Mary Alice Vignola scored in the 36th and Scarlett Camberos in the 38th, After Savannah McCaskill’s 47th-minute goal, Sydney Leroux scored on a bicycle kick in the 51st and Jun Endo added a goal in the 80th.
Angel City has lost once in 11 league matches since interim head coach Becki Tweed took over on June 14.
“It’s been a tough year, and I think this is what everyone has been waiting for, a dominating performance by Angel City,” Leroux said. “I’m just so happy that I got to be a part of that and do it at home. Now we’re in the playoffs and there [are] tears and all of the things. Today was amazing. You have some tough times, and then you have a day like today and you’re like, ‘OK, it’s all worth it.’”
Gotham dropped from fourth place to sixth, wasting a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at home against the already eliminated Kansas City Current. Gotham built its lead on goals by Midge Purce in the sixth minute and Yazmeen Ryan in the 15th at Red Bull Arena, then conceded to Alexa Spaanstra in the 26th minute, and gave up Jenna Nighswonger’s own in the 36th.
Gotham’s Ali Krieger played 90 minutes in her final regular-season match before retiring at the end of the season, becoming among just four players to log 15,000 NWSL minutes. She was honored in a postmatch ceremony.
“Honestly, it’s been so overwhelming in the most positive way,” the two-time Women’s World Cup winner with the U.S. national team said. “All of the love and the support has been — I’m honestly speechless because you don’t realize how much you’ve impacted all of these people over the years that I’ve played. It’s so rewarding to see all the positive feedback and the love I’ve received just from playing the sport that I love.”
The Orlando Pride beat the Houston Dash, 1-0, on Marta’s 87th-minute penalty kick and jumped into seventh place. While level on points with Gotham, the Pride missed the playoffs due to their minus-1 goal differential — the first playoff tiebreaker.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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