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The check-in: NWSL Decision Day looms
Plus: WNBA EXPANSION AT LAST!!!!!!!!!!
Hi, friends. I’m a bit behind on newsletters, I know, but I promise they’re incoming in non-spammy droves. Meanwhile, with so much big women’s sports news going on, I thought we’re overdue for a #checkin.
1. Let’s talk NWSL madness.
Next week is the last week of the regular season. The playoff picture is a hot mess. We’ve got to take this point by point.
The Portland Thorns and San Diego Wave have clinched the top two seeds, which guarantee them both byes into the semifinals. However the shield is still up for grabs — Portland only has a one-point lead over San Diego. The Thorns play Angel City next week, and the Wave play Racing Louisville.
The Chicago Red Stars have joined the Kansas City Current as the only teams eliminated from the playoff contention.
So, then we’re left with everyone else: Eight teams, only four points separating them in the standings, fighting it our for four playoff spots. We say “anything could happen” a lot, but seriously? Anything could happen.
Here are the standings. Focus on in on third through 10th place.
Here are the games on Sunday, which will all take place at 5:00 p.m. ET. CBS Sports Network will have a whip-around show, which will be absolute must-watch television. Every single game has a team either playing the shield, playing for their playoff lives, or both. My god.
Orlando Pride (7th place, 28 points) vs. Houston Dash (10th, 26)
Gotham FC (4th, 30) vs. KC Current (eliminated)
Angel City (8th, 28) vs. Portland Thorns (1st, 35)
San Diego Wave (2nd, 34) vs. Racing Louisville (9th, 27)
Washington Spirit (5th, 30) vs. North Carolina Courage (3rd, 30)
Chicago Red Stars (eliminated) vs. OL Reign (6th, 29)
Here, as you digest all of that, enjoy the highlights from all six (6!!!) goals Kansas City scored this weekend.
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2. I don’t want the WNBA Playoffs to end.
On Sunday, in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, the Las Vegas Aces beat the New York Liberty 99-82. It was an extremely tight and thrilling first half, but in the second half, the Aces were far and away the better team, and they certainly deserved the victory. But? I’m scared.
I’m scared that after a season of anticipation, the WNBA Finals are going to end up being a sweep for the top seed. Now, can the Liberty beat the Aces?? Of course they can, they’ve proven that many times this season. My nerves aren’t an indication of how much I believe in the Liberty. (Or, not a complete indication, at least.) I’m nervous because I don’t want this WNBA season to end!!! I want a five-game finals!! I want to drag this season out as long as possible! Because, friends, I need to see more of this:
I mean, just look at HOW FUCKING COOL Jackie Young is, and tell me you’re not in love.
It really feels like the Liberty need to get one of the first two games in Vegas if they’re going to make this a proper series, so I’ll be rooting for them on Wednesday night. Not because I’m against the Aces. Merely because I’m pro more WNBA.
3. Speaking of more WNBA …
Expansion is finally here!!!!
ICYMI, the WNBA announced last week that it’s officially expanding to the Bay Area. The team will start play in the 2025 season, and according to The Next, it’s likely Portland will join them.
The Golden State Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Gruber will own the still-unnamed team, which will be a sister squad to the Warriors. Lacob has been involved in women’s basketball and interested in WNBA ownership for decades, so it really does feel like a wonderful fit.
I highly recommend reading Michelle Smith’s dispatch from announcement day over at The Next.
I’ve been very critical of Cathy Engelbert and the WNBA’s slow-rolling on expansion, but we can’t get back lost time, so this is a moment to celebrate.
4. You can hear more on this week’s podcast.
Michelle Smith joined me on this week’s podcast to talk about expansion and Game 1, and Tamerra Griffin also joined me to get us ready for NWSL Decision Day. It’s one of my favorite podcasts so far, and you can listen to it here.
5. The gymnastics world championships was ridiculously awesome.
Last, but certainly not least, I must leave you all with a few of my favorite clips from last week’s world championships in gymnastics. It was a fantastic meet; Simone Biles won four golds and a silver and officially became the most decorated gymnast in history, male or female. My favorite routine of hers from the week was her gold-medal balance beam performance — it’s absolutely FLAWLESS.
I also love this beam routine that won golf for Qiu Qiyuan of China:
Finally finally, here are Brazil and France reacting to winning their medals in the team competition. It’s pure bliss.