2017 National Women's Soccer League season

The 2017 National Women's Soccer League season was the fifth season of the National Women's Soccer League, the top division of women's soccer in the United States. Including the NWSL's two professional predecessors, Women's Professional Soccer (2009–2011) and the Women's United Soccer Association (2001–2003), it was the eleventh overall season of FIFA- and USSF-sanctioned top-division women's soccer in the United States. The league is operated by the United States Soccer Federation and receives major financial backing from that body. Further financial backing is provided by the Canadian Soccer Association; both national federations pay the league salaries of many of their respective national team members in an effort to nurture talent in those nations.

National Women's Soccer League
Season2017
ChampionsPortland Thorns FC
NWSL ShieldNorth Carolina Courage
Matches played120
Goals scored344 (2.87 per match)
Top goalscorerSam Kerr (17 goals)
Biggest home winORL 5–0 SKY
(Aug 12)
Biggest away winHOU 0–4 NC
(Sep 27)
Highest scoringSEA 5–4 SKY
(Jul 22)
SKY 5–4 SEA
(Aug 19)
Longest winning run5 games
North Carolina Courage
(Aug 5 – Aug 30)
Orlando Pride
(Aug 8 – Sep 2)
Longest unbeaten run9 games
Orlando Pride
(Aug 8 – Sep 30)
Longest winless run10 games
Boston Breakers
(Jul 7 – Sep 10)
Longest losing run6 games
Houston Dash
(May 6 – Jun 17)
Highest attendance21,144
POR 3–1 CHI
(Sep 30)
Lowest attendance428
KC 2–1 POR
(Aug 16)
Total attendance609,957
Average attendance5,083
2016
2018
All statistics correct as of October 1, 2017.

The reigning champions Western New York Flash did not play under that name; the franchise was sold, relocated to Cary, North Carolina and rebranded as the North Carolina Courage.[1]

After schedule disruptions in the previous two years caused by the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, NWSL teams in 2017 once again played 24 games, a schedule last played during the 2014 season.[2] The Courage won the NWSL Shield (the regular season), topping the Portland Thorns by two points.

The NWSL Playoff semifinals were held October 7–8, 2017, and were won by the Thorns and the Courage. The NWSL Championship Game was held on October 14, 2017 at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Florida.[3] The Thorns won 1–0, becoming NWSL Champions, their second championship.

Teams, stadiums, and personnel

Stadiums and locations

Two teams, the Dash and Reign, do not make their stadiums' entire capacity available for home games, instead restricting ticket sales at a lower level. The full capacities of their venues are included in parentheses and italics.

Personnel and sponsorship

Note: All of the teams use Nike as their kit manufacturer.

Team Head coach Captain Shirt sponsor
Boston Breakers Matt Beard Julie King / Natasha Dowie Steward Health Care
Chicago Red Stars Rory Dames Christen Press Illinois Bone and Joint Institute
Houston Dash Omar Morales (Interim) Kealia Ohai / Amber Brooks BBVA Compass
FC Kansas City Vlatko Andonovski Becky Sauerbrunn Domino's
North Carolina Courage Paul Riley Abby Erceg Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina
Orlando Pride Tom Sermanni Ashlyn Harris/ Ali Krieger Orlando Health
Portland Thorns Mark Parsons Christine Sinclair/ Tobin Heath Providence Health & Services
Seattle Reign FC Laura Harvey Jess Fishlock/ Lauren Barnes Microsoft
Sky Blue FC Vacant Christie Pearce Meridian Health
Washington Spirit Jim Gabarra Shelina Zadorsky ProChain Solutions, Inc.

Coaching changes

Team Outgoing manager Manner of departure Date of vacancy Incoming manager Date of appointment Ref.
North Carolina Courage Franchise relocation Paul Riley January 30, 2017 [5]
Houston Dash Randy Waldrum Mutual separation May 29, 2017 Omar Morales (interim) May 29, 2017 [6]
Sky Blue FC Christy Holly Mutual separation August 16, 2017 [7]

Competition format

  • Each team played a total of 24 games, 12 home and 12 away.
  • The four teams at the end of the season with the most points qualified for the playoffs.

League standings

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
1 North Carolina Courage 24 16 1 7 38 22 +16 49 NWSL Shield
2 Portland Thorns FC (C) 24 14 5 5 37 20 +17 47 NWSL Playoffs
3 Orlando Pride 24 11 7 6 45 31 +14 40
4 Chicago Red Stars 24 11 6 7 33 30 +3 39
5 Seattle Reign FC 24 9 7 8 43 37 +6 34
6 Sky Blue FC 24 10 3 11 42 51 9 33
7 FC Kansas City 24 8 7 9 29 31 2 31
8 Houston Dash 24 7 3 14 23 39 16 24
9 Boston Breakers 24 4 7 13 24 35 11 19
10 Washington Spirit 24 5 4 15 30 48 18 19
Source: NWSL
Rules for classification: Tiebreakers
(C) Champion.

Tiebreakers

The initial determining factor for a team's position in the standings is most points earned, with three points earned for a win, one point for a draw, and zero points for a loss. If two or more teams tie in point total, when determining rank and playoff qualification and seeding, the NWSL uses the following tiebreaker rules,[8] going down the list until all teams are ranked.

  1. Head to Head win/loss record between the teams (or points-per-game if more than two teams).
  2. Greater goal difference across the entire season (against all teams, not just tied teams).
  3. Greatest total number of goals scored (against all teams).
  4. Apply #1–3 to games played on the road.
  5. Apply #1–3 to games played at home.
  6. If teams are still equal, ranking will be determined by a coin toss.

NOTE: If two clubs remain tied after another club with the same number of points advances during any step, the tie breaker reverts to step 1 of the two-club format.

Weekly live standings

Considering each week to end on a Sunday.

Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
Team ↓
North Carolina Courage4111111111111211111111
Portland Thorns3432355344554332222222
Orlando Pride10101010988767666774444443
Chicago Red Stars9684632222222123333334
Seattle Reign FC5256244555345445565555
Sky Blue FC6868423433433556656666
FC Kansas City23778766767899108777777
Houston Dash17457999109877667888888
Boston Breakers852356789109988899991099
Washington Spirit799910101010881010101091010101091010

Washington Spirit and Boston Breakers were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 18 on August 26, 2017 after losing their respective games.[9][10] FC Kansas City and Houston Dash were both eliminated in Week 20 on September 9, after the Chicago Red Stars gained one more point in a tie against FC Kansas City.[11][12] Sky Blue FC was eliminated later that weekend after a loss against the Washington Spirit.[13] Seattle Reign was the last team to lose a playoff spot after a defeat in Week 21.[14]

In Week 19, North Carolina Courage was the first team to clinch a playoff spot.[15] Later that week, Portland Thorns clinched the second playoff spot.[16] Both Chicago Red Stars and Orlando Pride clinched the remaining two spots in Week 21.[17]

Attendance

Average home attendances

Ranked from highest to lowest average attendance.

Team GP Attendance High Low Average
Portland Thorns FC12211,83021,14414,47117,653
Orlando Pride1274,23314,4524,2736,186
Houston Dash1254,9386,7071,2584,578
North Carolina Courage1252,6727,0202,3834,389
Seattle Reign FC1248,4496,0412,7274,037
Washington Spirit1241,8915,2002,3653,491
Chicago Red Stars1238,3794,9341,8273,198
Boston Breakers1234,7544,3212,2762,896
Sky Blue FC1231,3553,4512,0082,613
FC Kansas City1221,4563,3404281,788
Total120609,95721,1444285,083

Updated to games played on October 1, 2017.[18]

Highest attendances

Regular season

Rank Home team Score Away team Attendance Date Stadium
1Portland Thorns FC3–1Chicago Red Stars21,144September 30, 2017 (2017-09-30)Providence Park
2Portland Thorns FC2–0Houston Dash19,672August 19, 2017 (2017-08-19)Providence Park
3Portland Thorns FC4–0Washington Spirit19,141September 2, 2017 (2017-09-02)Providence Park
4Portland Thorns FC2–0Boston Breakers18,637May 27, 2017 (2017-05-27)Providence Park
5Portland Thorns FC2–1Washington Spirit18,478July 22, 2017 (2017-07-22)Providence Park
6Portland Thorns FC2–1Houston Dash18,243August 5, 2017 (2017-08-05)Providence Park
7Portland Thorns FC4–1Orlando Pride18,193October 7, 2017 (2017-10-07)Providence Park
8Portland Thorns FC1–0North Carolina Courage16,804July 15, 2017 (2017-07-15)Providence Park
9Portland Thorns FC1–3Sky Blue FC16,736June 17, 2017 (2017-06-17)Providence Park
10Portland Thorns FC3–0FC Kansas City16,199June 28, 2017 (2017-06-28)Providence Park

Updated to games played on October 7, 2017.[18]

Statistical leaders

NWSL Playoffs

The top four teams from the regular season competed for the NWSL Championship. In one semifinal, the North Carolina Courage defeated the Chicago Red Stars 1–0 on a dramatic 89th-minute goal. In the other, Portland Thorns FC defeated the Orlando Pride 4–1. One week later, in the final on October 14, Portland defeated North Carolina 1–0 to claim the NWSL Championship.

Semi-finals Championship
      
2 Portland Thorns FC 4
3 Orlando Pride 1
2 Portland Thorns FC 1
1 North Carolina Courage 0
1 North Carolina Courage 1
4 Chicago Red Stars 0

Semi-finals

Portland Thorns FC4–1Orlando Pride
Henry  12'  80'
Sonnett  15'
Raso  71'
Sinclair  82'
Report
Report
Kennedy  23'
Attendance: 18,193
Referee: Timothy Ford

Championship

North Carolina Courage0–1Portland Thorns FC
Report
Report
Heath  41'
Raso  45+1'
Horan  50'
Brynjarsdóttir  72'
Attendance: 8,124
Referee: Danielle Chesky

Individual awards

Monthly awards

Player of the Month

Month Player of the Month Club Month's Statline
April Rose Lavelle[19] Boston Breakers 1 goal, 1 assist in 3 games; Breakers 2-1-0 in April
May Sam Kerr[20] Sky Blue FC 2 goals, 2 assists in 5 games; Sky Blue FC 3-2-0 in May
June Sam Kerr[21] Sky Blue FC 3 goals, 1 assist in 4 games; 30th career goal
July Megan Rapinoe[22] Seattle Reign FC 5 goals in 4 games; Reign FC 2-1-1 in July
August Alex Morgan[23] Orlando Pride 7 goals, 2 assists, 13 shots on goal, 11 chances created
September Marta[24] Orlando Pride 2 goals, 13 chances created, 85.5% passing accuracy

Team of the Month

Month Goalkeeper Defenders Midfielders Forwards Ref
April Stephanie Labbé, WAS Estelle Johnson, WAS
Becky Sauerbrunn, KC
Emily Sonnett, POR
Julie Ertz, CHI
Debinha, NC
Rose Lavelle, BOS
Jess Fishlock, SEA
Sam Mewis, NC
Kealia Ohai, HOU
Lynn Williams, NC
[25]
May Kailen Sheridan, NJ Samantha Johnson, CHI
Becky Sauerbrunn, KC
Casey Short, CHI
Danielle Colaprico, CHI
Amandine Henry, POR
Rose Lavelle, BOS
Sarah Killion, NJ
Nahomi Kawasumi, SEA
Christen Press, CHI
Sam Kerr, NJ
[26]
June Stephanie Labbé, WAS Casey Short, CHI
Abby Dahlkemper, NC
Ali Krieger, ORL
Estelle Johnson, WAS
Marta, ORL
Sam Mewis, NC
Jess Fishlock, SEA
Megan Rapinoe, SEA
Sam Kerr, NJ
Ashley Hatch, NC
[27]
July Jane Campbell, HOU Amber Brooks, KC
Abby Dahlkemper, NC
Casey Short, CHI
Taylor Smith, NC
Andressinha, HOU
Julie Ertz, CHI
Marta, ORL
McCall Zerboni, NC
Sam Kerr, NJ
Megan Rapinoe, SEA
[28]
August Katelyn Rowland, NC Steph Catley, ORL
Emily Sonnett, POR
Ali Krieger, ORL
Taylor Smith, NC
Marta, ORL
Sam Mewis, NC
Lindsey Horan, POR
Hayley Raso, POR
Alex Morgan, ORL
Sam Kerr, NJ
[29]
September Adrianna Franch, POR Emily Menges, POR
Kelley O'Hara, NJ
Becky Sauerbrunn, KC
Casey Short, CHI
Alanna Kennedy, ORL
Marta, ORL
Sam Mewis, NC
Shea Groom, KC
Christine Sinclair, POR
Lynn Williams, NC
[30]

Weekly awards

Week NWSL Player of the Week NWSL Goal of the Week NWSL Save of the Week Reference
Player Club Player Club Player Club
1 Haley KopmeyerSeattle Reign FC Rachel DalyHouston Dash Ashlyn HarrisOrlando Pride [31][32]
2 Jess FishlockSeattle Reign FC Danica EvansOrlando Pride MônicaOrlando Pride [31][33][34]
3 Adriana LeonBoston Breakers CamilaOrlando Pride Adrianna FranchPortland Thorns FC [35][36][37]
4 Francisca OrdegaWashington Spirit Jess FishlockSeattle Reign FC Ashlyn HarrisOrlando Pride [38][39][40]
5 Nahomi KawasumiSeattle Reign FC Christen PressChicago Red Stars Alyssa NaeherChicago Red Stars [41][42][43]
6 Christen PressChicago Red Stars Sofia HuertaChicago Red Stars Abby SmithBoston Breakers [44][45][46]
7 Sydney LerouxFC Kansas City Becky SauerbrunnFC Kansas City Danielle ColapricoChicago Red Stars [47][48][49]
8 Lindsey HoranPortland Thorns FC Lindsey HoranPortland Thorns FC Adrianna FranchPortland Thorns FC [50][51][52]
9 Sam KerrSky Blue FC CamilaOrlando Pride Aubrey BledsoeOrlando Pride [53][54][55]
10 PolianaHouston Dash Vanessa DiBernardoChicago Red Stars Steph CatleyOrlando Pride [56][57][58]
11 Megan RapinoeSeattle Reign FC Sam KerrSky Blue FC Stephanie LabbéWashington Spirit [59][60][61]
12 Sam KerrSky Blue FC Lindsey HoranPortland Thorns FC Aubrey BledsoeOrlando Pride [62]
13 AndressinhaHouston Dash Toni PressleyOrlando Pride Aubrey BledsoeOrlando Pride [63][64][65]
14 Megan RapinoeSeattle Reign FC Megan RapinoeSeattle Reign FC Alyssa NaeherChicago Red Stars [66]
Christen PressChicago Red Stars
15 Arielle ShipWashington Spirit Sofia HuertaChicago Red Stars Adrianna FranchPortland Thorns FC [67]
16 Sam MewisNorth Carolina Courage MartaOrlando Pride Adrianna FranchPortland Thorns FC [68]
17 Sam KerrSky Blue FC Sam KerrSky Blue FC Ashlyn HarrisOrlando Pride [69]
18 Hayley RasoPortland Thorns FC Alex MorganOrlando Pride Ashlyn HarrisOrlando Pride [70][71][72]
19 Shea GroomFC Kansas City Julie ErtzChicago Red Stars Jane CampbellHouston Dash [73][74][75]
20 Whitney ChurchWashington Spirit Christine SinclairPortland Thorns DiDi Haracic
Whitney Church
Washington Spirit [76][77][78]
21 Adriana LeonBoston Breakers Rachel DalyHouston Dash Ashlyn Harris
Mônica
Orlando Pride [79][80][81]
22 Jess FishlockSeattle Reign Alanna KennedyOrlando Pride Ashlyn HarrisOrlando Pride [82][83][84]

Annual awards

Award Winner
Golden Boot [85] Sam Kerr Sky Blue FC 17 goals
Coach of the Year [86] Paul Riley North Carolina Courage NWSL Shield Winner
Rookie of the Year [87] Ashley Hatch North Carolina Courage 7 goals, 1 assist, 1,200 minutes
Goalkeeper of the Year [88] Adrianna Franch Portland Thorns FC 11 shutouts, 80 saves, 0.83 GA/A
Defender of the Year [89] Abby Dahlkemper North Carolina Courage Played all 2,160 minutes
Most Valuable Player [90] Sam Kerr Sky Blue FC League record 17 goals
NWSL Best XI
Position First team [91] Second team [92]
Goalkeeper Adrianna FranchPortland Thorns FC11 SO; 80 saves Katelyn RowlandNorth Carolina Courage8 SO, 39 saves
Defender Casey ShortChicago Red Stars2,004 minutes Steph CatleyOrlando Pride2,032 minutes
Defender Abby DahlkemperNorth Carolina Courage2,160 minutes Abby ErcegNorth Carolina Courage1 goal, 2 assists
Defender Becky SauerbrunnFC Kansas City1,980 minutes Meghan KlingenbergPortland Thorns FC6 assists
Defender Ali KriegerOrlando Pride2,160 minutes Emily MengesPortland Thorns FC2,063 minutes
Midfielder Jess Fishlock Seattle Reign FC7 goals, 2 assists Danielle ColapricoChicago Red Stars1,093 minutes
Midfielder Sam MewisNorth Carolina Courage6 goals, 3 assists Julie ErtzChicago Red Stars4 goals, 3 assists
Midfielder McCall ZerboniNorth Carolina Courage23 starts Lindsey HoranPortland Thorns FC4 goals, 2 assists
FW // MF MartaOrlando Pride13 goals, 6 assists Sofia HuertaChicago Red Stars6 goals, 4 assists
Forward Sam KerrSky Blue FCrecord 17 goals Alex MorganOrlando Pride9 goals, 4 assists
Forward Christen PressChicago Red Stars5 GWG Megan RapinoeSeattle Reign FC12 goals, 1 assist
NWSL Championship Game MVP
Player Club Record
Lindsey Horan Portland Thorns FC Scored the game-winning goal

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  89. Purdy, Jacqueline (October 19, 2017). "Defender of the Year: Abby Dahlkemper, North Carolina Courage". Nwslsoccer.com. Archived from the original on October 20, 2017. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  90. Purdy, Jacqueline (October 20, 2017). "NWSL MVP: Sam Kerr, Sky Blue FC". Nwslsoccer.com. Archived from the original on October 21, 2017. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  91. Purdy, Jacqueline (October 12, 2017). "2017 Best XI announced". Nwslsoccer.com. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  92. "NWSL announces Second XI selections". Nwslsoccer.com. October 10, 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
NWSL Statistics
  1. "NWSL Stats". NWSL. Retrieved October 1, 2017.

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