Despite loss, Washington Spirit advances to NWSL playoffs

(NWSL)
(NWSL)

The Washington Spirit clinched a National Women’s Soccer League playoff berth Saturday, despite losing to New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC, 1-0, at Maryland SoccerPlex.

Thanks to Chicago’s 3-3 draw with Western New York later in the evening, the Spirit (10-9-5) advanced to next weekend’s semifinals. The club finished even with Chicago (9-7-8) on points with 35 but won the first tiebreaker (head to head) by sweeping the three-game series.

Portland’s game Sunday against Seattle will determine whether the Spirit is the No. 3 or No. 4 seed. If the Thorns lose or draw, Washington will finish third and visit second-place FC Kansas City on Saturday afternoon. A Portland victory would send the Spirit to first-place Seattle next Sunday night.

Washington, which won three games in the 2013 inaugural season, would have secured passage with a victory against Sky Blue (8-8-7), but Monica Ocampo‘s 27th-minute goal held up in front of 4,282 spectators in Boyds, Md.

Midfielder Lori Lindsey, who announced her NWSL retirement Thursday, made her final regular season appearance at SoccerPlex, leaving to a standing ovation in the 69th minute.

The Spirit played without top-choice goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (concussion) and leading scorer Jodie Taylor (England national team duty).

Defenders Ali Krieger and Crystal Dunn will report to the U.S. national team in Cary, N.C., ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Switzerland, then rejoin the Spirit for playoff preparations.

ESPN2 will show both semifinals and the Aug. 31 championship game.

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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