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World Elite Syndicate

NWSL Championship Preview: OL Reign (10-8-5) at NJ/NY Gotham FC (9-7-7)

Snapdragon Stadium | Portland, Oregon – Saturday, November 11 at 8:00 PM ETPlayers to watch:

It’s impossible to approach the NWSL Championship and not mention the final match for two incredible NWSL icons in Gotham FC defender Ali Krieger and Reign attacker Megan Rapinoe. Both have been staples of the league and will have all eyes on them as they each play the last match of their respective careers and on no bigger stage domestically than the NWSL Championship.

Gotham forward Katie Stengel scored the latest game-winning goal in a road game in NWSL history with her outside-the-box strike in Gotham’s 1-0 victory over the Thorns in the NWSL Semifinals. It was the first open-play goal from outside the box in extra time in NWSL playoff history. In addition, teammate Maitane López had 122 touches on Saturday, the most ever by a player in an NWSL playoff game. She also became the first NWSL player with 100+ passes attempted in a playoff game (104) and had the most completed pass in a playoff game by any player with 88.

Reign’s Rapinoe has scored 13 goals in her 13 NWSL games against Gotham FC. That is the second-most goals against a single opponent in league history (regular season & playoffs) behind only Christine Sinclair’s 17 goals in 26 career games against Chicago. Also up top, with a goal in each of the Reign’s two playoff games so far, forward Veronica Latsko is the 14th NWSL player with multiple career playoff goals. Of those players, only Emily Sonnett (six) has scored fewer regular season goals than Latsko’s 12.

Match facts: Capping off an exhilarating 2023 season is Saturday’s NWSL Championship matchup between OL Reign and NJ/NY Gotham FC at Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, which will be nationally televised in primetime on CBS. The Reign and Gotham arrive after wins over San Diego and Portland respectively, and it will be a sendoff match for both Gotham defender Ali Krieger and Reign forward Megan Rapinoe, who exit after illustrious careers that will see one hang up the boots with one last trophy.

Prior to this year’s playoffs, the Reign have won two of their 11 total knockout matches across all NWSL competitions (D2 L7, lost PK shootout in both draws). Their two 1-0 wins in this year’s playoffs make them the second NWSL team ever to have multiple 1-0 wins in the playoffs (also Chicago in 2019 and 2021).

On the other side, Gotham FC has reached the NWSL Championship a season after finishing last place in 2022. It is the second straight season a team has reached the final after finishing the previous year with the fewest points. It had never happened prior to Kansas City reaching the 2022 NWSL Championship. 

This year’s NWSL Championship will feature two clubs who played in the league’s inaugural season of 2013. It will be Gotham FC’s first appearance in the Championship, as all four of the other NWSL clubs who have played every season in league history have reached the final at least twice. OL Reign’s two appearances came in 2014 and 2015 where they suffered defeats.

From a head-to-head standpoint, OL Reign had beaten Gotham FC in four straight games entering their last meeting when Gotham scored a 4-1 road win. That victory back in May was tied for Gotham’s largest-ever win in the series with wins in June 2021 and May 2013.

Saturday’s venue Snapdragon Stadium will be the ninth different venue to host an NWSL Championship with only Providence Park (twice) having hosted multiple. The Championship will be the first top-flight women’s soccer championship in California since the 2010 WPS Championship between FC Gold Pride and the Philadelphia Independence at Pioneer Stadium in Hayward.

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