Thorns FC: Playoff Pictures

We’re less than a week away from the final matches of the 2016 NWSL season, and then Thorns FC is going to host a semifinal.

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Ahhhh.   I love the sound of those words, don’t you; “host a semifinal”.  We’ve been waiting and hoping for this for four years.  But…

...who could we see here come October 2nd?

The game’s not until Sunday, so c’mon…let’s speculate!  (Updated 9/24 with the result of the WNY-Boston match)

Right now the table looks like this:

Washington on top at 39 points

PTFC second with 38

Chicago third with 30, and

Western New York fourth sitting on 29.  But…

Seattle is chasing the last playoff spot with 27 points, and Sky Blue is only a point behind with 26.

This upcoming weekend:

Boston is home lost against Western New York,

Chicago hosts Washington,

We play in Joisey, and

Houston hosts It doesn’t matter what Seattle does.

Given the table, the matchups, and the possible outcomes…what could happen?

Well..first of all, Portland and Washington will finish 1-2.  No other teams have a shot at those positions.  So the real dogfight is for the final two playoff positions.  Here’s how I break the possibilities down;

Possibility 1: Washington, Portland, Western New York, and Seattle all win.  Washington takes the Shield, Portland is second and Western New York jumps to third.  Seattle and the Red Stars end up tied on 30 points…but Chicago holds the tiebreaker and locks out Seattle.  Washington plays Chicago in the first semifinal and we play (ugh) Western New York in the other.

Possibility 2:  Washington, Portland, and Western New York lose, Seattle wins.  Seattle knocks out WNY, Washington takes the Shield and plays Seattle, we play Chicago.

Possibility 3: Washington loses, Portland, Chicago, Western New York and Seattle all win.  Portland takes the Shield and Washington finishes second.  Since Chicago and WNY both won they keep their 3-4 places and still shut Seattle out, so the Thorns play (ugh) WNY in the first semi and Chicago plays Washington in the second.

Possibility 4:  Washington and Chicago draw, Portland and WNY win.  Portland takes the Shield and plays Chicago.  Washington plays WNY

Possibility 5:  Washington and Chicago draw, Portland loses, WNY wins.  Doesn’t matter what Seattle does.  Washington takes the Shield and plays Chicago.  We play (ugh) WNY.

Possibility 6:  Washington and Chicago draw, Portland wins, WNY loses, Seattle wins.  Seattle knocks out WNY.  We take the Shield and play Seattle.  Washington plays Chicago.

Possibility 7: Washington and Portland lose, Chicago and WNY win.  All four teams remain in place.  We play Chicago, Washington plays WNY.

Bottom line; who could we see here on 10/2?

I don’t see how Sky Blue can get in the playoffs at all; their only hope on points is if they win and WNY and Seattle both lose.  But all that does is put them level with WNY who skunked them 1-2 and 5-2 during the season.  They’re playing for pride this Sunday; 0% chance.

Seattle gets in only if WNY loses is out; WNY is beating Boston 4-nil in the 70-somethingth minute.  Gee, Seattle; sucks to be you.  then they can slip the Flash into the last spot.  Chicago holds the tiebreaker over them, so even if they win and Chicago loses if WNY wins they can’t get past Chicago into fourth.  If this happens it then depends on how Washington and Portland finish will depend on whether we might see them in the semi  Not a huge possibility; only two of the seven above and the only way we play them is if win the Shield, so, say about about a 10-15% chance

Chicago draws us in three of the seven possibilities above now has to win to stay above WNY.  If they win and Washington loses or draws and Portland wins we play them.  Any other possibility means we play WNY.  but it means that either 1) Seattle wins in Houston – doable – and Boston has to beat WNY…not so much…OR 2) a whole bunch of teams lose – including WNY again to Boston.  The raw numbers give them about 30-40% chance at us…but given the likelihood of a Breakers win?  I’d call it now with the Flash win more like a 10-15% chance.

So…unfortunately, now that they’ve won there’s a very good chance we could face WNY.

At this point tomorrow’s WAS-CHI and POR-SBFC matches are critical.

  1. A Washington win locks us out of the Shield AND drops Chicago into fourth, so we play WNY.
  2. A Chicago win, OTOH, gives us a shot at the Shield. A draw or win at Sky Blue gives us the Shield (since we own the head-to-head on the Spirit)…but means that Chicago holds onto third and we play WNY
  3. A Washington-Chicago draw means that a draw against SBFC keeps us in second AND drops Chicago to fourth…so we play WNY…but a win takes the Shield AND draws us Chicago in the semifinal.

As I mentioned in the previous match report, I’m not sure I want to play WNY.  Yes, we’ve beaten them twice this season, but both matches were tense and the last one here could have gone the other way (or ended a draw).  So…we need to win tomorrow AND we need Chicago to win – a WAS-CHI draw still gets us WNY if we draw or lose at Sky Blue.

Well.  Ugh.  I sure hope not.  Any other possibilities I haven’t thought of?  Any ideas, hopes, fears?  Let’s discuss!