A first-time NWSL champion will be crowned when OL Reign faces Gotham FC in title game

Sports News

Steph Chambers
Gotham FC’s Megan Rapinoe will play her final professional match Saturday.

Neither team in the NWSL title game has won the league title, meaning a first-time NWSL champion will be crowned Saturday at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium.

No. 4 OL Reign will take on No. 6 NJ/NY Gotham FC Saturday at 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on CBS.

OL Reign put up an unremarkable 9-5-8 performance during the regular season to earn its No. 4 seed but has punched above its weight throughout the playoffs. The Reign took down Angel City FC in the quarterfinal and eliminated the 2023 NWSL Shield winner and top seed San Diego Wave in the semifinal.

US women’s national team star Megan Rapinoe is the headliner for OL Reign, and she will play the final game of her career Saturday. The two-time World Cup champion announced in July that she would retire from professional soccer at the conclusion of this NWSL season.

Rapinoe and the US lost in this summer’s World Cup to Sweden in penalties in the round of 16, so Saturday is Rapinoe’s final shot at adding another trophy to her case.

Standing in the way, however, is a feisty Gotham team that has defied its low seed. Gotham FC snuck into the playoffs with a record of 8-7-7 and has upset the tournament’s second and third seeds en route to the final. Gotham FC finished last in the NWSL standings one season ago. First-year head coach Juan Carlos Amorós was named the league’s coach of the year for his role in the turnaround.

Under Amorós, Gotham has excelled as a defensive-minded club, leading the league in possessions won (1,554) and shots faced (205). Lynn Williams leads the team with seven goals, but the offense has been spread around, with eight players having at least two goals this year.

This is the third meeting between OL Reign and Gotham this season. The two teams split results in the regular season – the Reign won 2-0 in convincing fashion on the road in April, then Gotham then put on a dominant 4-1 performance at Lumen Field in May. The Reign leads Gotham 12-8-7 in the overall series.

Saturday’s final is the culmination of a knockout-style playoff format. Six teams advanced to the playoffs with three rounds of competition, including two first-round matches, two semifinal games, and Saturday’s NWSL Championship.

Last month, the league unveiled a new trophy for the event, redesigned in collaboration with Tiffany & Co.