The Houston Dash have two games left to the regular 2018 NWSL season. They sit two points out of the final playoff spot. What are their chances of reaching the franchise’s first playoff berth? Slim and none are the two words that come to mind. Slim though is almost an understatement considering the help that the Dash needs to claim that berth. Here are the four teams vying for that final spot.
Chicago Red Stars (7-4-10, 31 points)
The Chicago Red Stars have a game in hand and currently hold down the final spot in the NWSL table. Chicago holds its destiny in its own hands. CRS needs to simply win two of their final three. They face Orlando on the road tonight. A week later they host a hapless Sky Blue FC (SKFC) before closing out the season on the road against Utah.
Orlando Pride (8-8-6, 30 points)
Orlando with its playoff hopes on the line face Chicago at home on August 25, 2018 before closing on the road against SKFC. A win by Orlando would put the pressure on Chicago and tightened the race for the final playoff spot. Orlando will then close out against currently winless Sky Blue.
Utah Royals (8-7-8, 32 points)
Utah may have the easiest road to the playoffs. On Wednesday night, Utah defeated the Washington Spirit 1-0 and now have two weeks to get ready to host the Chicago Red Stars. With nearly two weeks between games, the Royals should be well rested. Second, the team is an experienced group of players having primarily made up Kansas City SC last season.
Houston Dash (8-9-5, 29 points)
Houston has its work cut out for them. They must win out and Chicago must lose two out of three. The Dash host winless Sky Blue FC (0-14-5, 5 points) in Saturday’s home finale. The team then has two weeks to get ready for first place North Carolina Courage.
It is not lost on this part of the soccer world that Carli Lloyd and Sky Blue FC will play a big role in the possible outcome of Houston’s playoff chances. Lloyd has played 15 games this season for her hometown team. The Deltran, NJ native played a total of 15 games in her last two seasons with Dash. It was one of the reasons for the disconnect between Lloyd and the fans. It’s ironic that Lloyd wanted to go home and play and now faces the possibility of her worst season as a professionals. The World Cup star has three goals on 16 on target shots.
Sky Blue FC will play both Orlando and Chicago following the match with Houston on Saturday night. If the SKFC can beat both of those squads and Houston wins against them, the playoffs will be even more of a possibility.
The homer and positive optimist in me says Houston makes the playoffs by winning out. The optimistic results would be Orland and Utah going 1-1 in their final two while Chicago finishes 1-2. This result would give Houston the final berth by two points over Chicago.
The likely result is that the final game (September 8) between Utah and Chicago will determine the final playoff berth. With a road record of 3-1-6, and two road games left, it appears the Red Stars have the upper hand and will secure the final spot.