The National Women's Soccer League has announced the official dates and times for the 2016 NWSL Playoff Semi-finals. The first semi-final will be on September 30th at 8pm ET and the second will be on October 2nd at 5pm ET. Both semi-finals will be live on FS1.
Maryland will host it's first ever semi-final
Due to their current standings in the NWSL table, the Washington Spirit will be the hosts of the first semi-final in September. As of right now, there are three possible teams that the Spirit will face and they will not know who their opponents will be until at least after Saturday night on September 17th. The three teams are the Chicago Red Stars, the Western New York Flash or Seattle Reign FC. Based on results during this weekend, any of the afore mentioned teams will be traveling to the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds, Maryland, which will be hosting it's first ever NWSL playoff match, on the 30th to face the most in-form teams of the season.
The likes of Crystal Dunn, Christine Nairn and Caprice Dydasco will want to end their season on a high note after a great regular season performance and will feel that no matter what team is placed in front of them, they are fully capable of winning that battle and winning the NWSL Championship this year. The Spirit faithful will be hoping that that they will be the case as well.
The Riveters get their home playoff match
After four seasons of being the best supported team in the NWSL, Portland Thorns FC have rewarded their fans with a home semi-final as well. The Thorns have featured in two previous playoff runs but in both cases, they played away from Providence Park. This year, the Thorns have almost stayed on par with the Spirit throughout the season, and because of that, now will host the other semi-final match on October 2nd. As with the Spirit, the Throns will also have to wait for the outcome of the last week of regular season matches before knowing who they will face in that semi-final.
Although the Red Stars are in the playoffs, they are still one of the three teams that the Thorns will face and the star players in the Thorns side, such as Tobin Heath, Christine Sinclair and Amandine Henry will have to wait like the rest of the league until the last round of matches is over to know who their opponent will be.
The race for fourth will go down to the wire
The Spirit and the Thorns will most certainly be watching two teams in particular, closely as it will determing the final playoff spot. Up first, the current fourth placed team, WNY will be away to the Boston Breakers on Saturday night. A win or a draw, and a Chicago loss, will be enough for the Flash to stay in the final playoff spots and send them to Portland to face the Thorns in the semi-final. A Red Stars win and a Flash win or draw will still be enough for the Flash to head to the playoffs, but they will be heading to Maryland instead for their semi-final match up.
The other team still in the race, the Reign, will need a Flash loss and their own win against the Houston Dash in Houston to get into the playoffs for the third year running. If results fall their way, Seattle will be going to Maryland to face the Spirit for the third playoff semi-final in a row. If the Flash win or draw, then Seattle's playoff hopes are done for the season. All of this means that the final NWSL regular season matches will have plenty riding on them and teams will be giving their all at the end of the season.