And then there were two. It all started back on March 25 in Cary, North Carolina. Now, the final two clubs, OL Reign, and NJ/NY Gotham FC are set to collide in San Diego for the title. Since the NWSL kicked off in 2013, neither of these sides has sat at the pinnacle of the league. That is going to change on Saturday night in southern California. It will be the first time two sides that did not finish in the top three in the regular season league table face off for the NWSL crown.
Even with the top-class attacking players both teams possess, the two have ridden their defensive stability since postseason soccer kicked off. Not once has an opponent in the first two rounds accumulated an xG over 0.6 against Gotham or the Seattle outfit. The two center-back pairings have been the rock of each club's back four. Not only are they locking it up defensively, but they're also pinging balls forward to help unleash a potential attack.
A lot has transpired since May, the last two these two met. Rose Lavelle was still out injured while Esther González had just finished up her final campaign in Liga F with Real Madrid. Phallon Tullis-Joyce, who now dons the colors of Manchester United was even the player between the sticks for the Seattle side.
The last time Laura Harvey was in the title game, current Utah Royals leader Amy Rodriguez's second-half goal pushed FC Kansas City over the Reign. Now, years later with Megan Rapinoe still occupying one of the flanks, Harvey's team seeks to finish the task before the USWNT legend officially walks out the door. Her and Sofia Huerta's crosses, as always will be critical to the Reign's attack under the lights in Snapdragon.
On the other side, the league's Coach of the Year and his Gotham team love to possess the ball, finishing second behind only North Carolina Courage in that category during the regular season. Lynn Williams, one of the many players that are in their first campaign in New York/New Jersey is the straw that stirs the drink for No. 6 seed. The USWNT forward not only finds the back of the net, but she holds the ball up brilliantly while using her toughness and speed to change the game on the defensive end.
Last weekend at 2101 Stadium Way in San Diego, the NWSL playoff attendance record was broken with 32,262 fans filing into the stadium. Expect that to be broken. Not only will fans of both sides be there, but the league is taking steps toward making this game more of an event. Could we see celebrities? Possibly. Either way, the environment in primetime will be one few are going to forget.
How to watch OL Reign vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC: NWSL Championship live stream info
Date: Saturday, Nov. 11
Start time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: San Diego, California
Stadium: Snapdragon Stadium
TV Info: CBS
Live Stream: CBS Sports Network, Paramount+