Playoffs Coming Soon For NWSLNational Women’s Soccer League looking to show off what it has during playoffs
by Katherine Rupp | Thursday, August 27, 2015
Spring and fall are two of the best seasons for soccer fans as that’s when Major League Soccer, the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, etc. all are in season. However, this summer was huge for soccer fans, considering the U-20 World Cup took place as did the Copa America and, of course, the Women’s World Cup.
Just as Major League Soccer teams are ramping up by playing their best soccer just in time for playoffs and peaking at the right time, National Women’s Soccer League teams are fighting for the playoff position in the nine-team league.
Much of the NWSL season has seen the top 5 teams shuffling around for the top four spots. With Seattle Reign claiming a playoff spot in the number one spot, currently (but don’t look to be giving that top spot away soon), by winning 11 games on the season with 3 more to play. What’s more, the only team outside the four playoff spots, but hasn’t been eliminated yet, is the Reign’s rival down in Oregon, the Portland Thorns. Also with clinched seasons are the Chicago Red Stars and FC Kansas City.
This season has seen some highlights and lowlights within the NWSL. The main highlights include bumps in attendance throughout the whole league, the quality of play and the strength of players within the league, as well as the conversations that were had – especially this summer during the Women’s World Cup – concerning wages within the NWSL.
And although wages are much lower, almost laughably so, than almost every other professional sports league, the highlight is that the concern and awareness is now out there and more people are paying attention to this issue. What may inadvertently help with raising player wages is the fact that attendances have been growing – and at some games – swelling to their highest numbers yet. The average attendance in 2013, the inaugural season of the NWSL, was 4,270.
The NWSL also saw the sophomore slump (only slightly, though) with the average attendance recorded at 4,137. And during the third season for the league here in 2015, and with help of putting more eyes on the league from the World Cup, the league-wide attendance average is at 4,912. A game of note, received an attendance which is respectable and eye-brow raising for even some MLS teams, was the Cascadia rivalry match between Portland and Seattle with 21,144 people in the seats.
And where there’s smoke there’s fire – and in this case, where there are highlights, there are also lowlights. With the aforementioned wage issues being one of the highlights, it must be said that the NWSL salaries are also lowlights. Additionally, one of the questionable moves from the league consists of making the decision to announce the location of the 2015 NWSL Championship – more than halfway through the season – as being located in Portland. Although the atmosphere at Providence Park has often been noted as one of the best – if not the best – soccer atmospheres in the U.S. for MLS and NWSL matches, it’s an odd announcement during the season. Also, if the Thorns do not make the Final, it’s a tough ask for fans to travel to Oregon to visit a neutral site.
There are a handful of lowlights from the NWSL this season but luckily enough, there’s been quite a bit of press and publicity on both the highlights and lowlights that hopefully we’ll see the NWSL take off in years to come. And as the playoffs quickly approach, the players will be focusing on the task at hand – the NWSL Championship game. So if you want to watch players like Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe (Seattle); Julie Johnston, Lori Chalupny, and Christen Press (Chicago); and Becky Sauerbrunn, Amy Rodriguez, Heather O’Reilly, and Lauren Holiday (FCKC) among those players who are part of teams clinched for the playoffs, now’s the time to brush up on your women’s soccer. It’ll be an exciting month and a few weeks to close up this 2015 NWSL season, so make sure to pay attention.