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The playoff push is on in the National Women's Soccer League as teams continue to battle for positioning in the final stretch of the 2021 regular season. Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars have strengthened their playoff hopes after picking up wins during Saturday's fixtures while other teams dropped in the standings.

Let's take a look at some of the Saturday night action around the league

Demonstrations continue

Demonstrations continued as NWSL players continued to show support and solidarity with former players Sinead Farrelly, Mana Shim, Kaiya McCullough and others who recently came forward with their stories of abuse they say occurred while playing for NWSL clubs. 

Players began demonstrations nearly two weeks ago, stopping in the sixth minute of play and observing a full minute of reflection, but demonstrations have now adjusted, with the same minute of solidarity taking place at kickoff. 

Chicago pushes into top four

The Chicago Red Stars defeated Kansas City NWSL 2-1 in their final regular season home match this year. The win bumped Chicago into fourth place the standings, and ensures they cannot slip past sixth place this weekend should Houston Dash and North Carolina Courage win. The Red Stars opened the goal scoring first, forcing an own-goal off a set piece. It is the sixth own-goal Chicago has forced this season, setting a league record.

Orlando officially eliminated

Orlando Pride entered NWSL Saturday with a must win scenario on the road against Louisville. After taking an early lead with a goal by Jodie Taylor, the Pride were ultimately eliminated from playoff contention after suffering a 3-1 loss against Racing Louisville FC.

Louisville forward Ebony Salmon scored the equalizer for the team and recorded an assist on Louisville's third goal of the night.

The loss is Orlando's fourth in a row, and was the final nail in Orlando's playoff coffin of hopes. The Pride exit the playoff push after an impressive start to the season where the team went on a seven game undefeated streak. The team has one game remaining in the regular season and forward Sydney Leroux is still in the mix for the golden boot with eight goals this season.

Washington Spirit continue surge

The Spirit continued their remarkable late season form and picked up their third consecutive win after player four games in 10 days. The team capped off its road trip with a triumph over the second-place Reign 2-0. Spirit forward Ashley Hatch pulled ahead of OL Reign's Bethany Balcer in the golden boot race with her 10th goal of the season.


NWSL action continues Sunday as North Carolina Courage host NJ/NY Gotham FC, and Houston Dash meet Portland Thorns FC. OL Reign's loss on Saturday means the 2021 NWSL Shield is still up for grabs, with the Thorns and Reign in contention for the title, and Gotham FC as long shots with two games in hand.