The 2021 NWSL Playoffs Are Set — So When Will Carli Lloyd’s Final Match Be?

To much fanfare (maybe too much?), Carli Lloyd played her final USWNT match last week. At the club level, she’s got at least one more match left before she fully retires. When is Carli Lloyd's last game? That depends on her and her Gotham FC teammates as the NWSL playoffs begin Sunday. 

Lloyd finished the NWSL season in fine form, setting up a goal in the penultimate match and scoring on the final day of the season. The points helped Gotham clinch the fifth of six playoff berths. The Houston Dash, Lloyd’s team for three seasons, missed out on a first-ever trip to the postseason after failing to score in any of their final three matches to finish one point out of the playoffs. 

The Portland Thorns claimed their second NWSL Shield and, along with second-place OL Reign, earned a bye into the semifinals. The remaining four playoff teams, including Chicago, Washington and North Carolina, face off in the quarterfinals this weekend. 

NWSL Playoff Schedule


  • Nov. 7: Chicago Red Stars vs. Gotham FC, 3 p.m. ET (CBSSN)
  • Nov. 7: Washington Spirit vs. North Carolina Courage, 5:30 p.m. ET (Paramount+)


  • Nov. 14: OL Reign vs. Washington-North Carolina winner, 3 p.m. ET (CBSSN)
  • Nov. 14: Portland Thorns vs. Chicago-Gotham winner, 5:30 p.m. ET (CBSSN)

NWSL Final

  • Nov. 20: Teams TBD, noon ET (CBS)

The championship game will be played at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky; the NWSL moved the title game from Portland in part because of fallout from Paul Riley’s firing and in part because no one wanted to play a title game at 9 a.m. local time. 

When Is Carli Lloyd's Last Game?

When will Carli Lloyd play her final match as a professional footballer? That depends on how far her team, Gotham FC, can go in the playoffs. 

As the No. 5 seed, Gotham plays at No. 4 Chicago Red Stars on Sunday. The two teams were separated by just three points in the regular season, during which time Gotham won once and the teams tied twice. But just one of those matches was in Chicago, where the Red Stars went 8-2-2, the best home record in the league. 

If Gotham can’t do what just two away teams have done so far this season (win in Chicago), Carli Lloyd’s final game will be Sunday, Nov. 7.

But if Gotham pulls off the upset, Lloyd and Co. will travel to Portland to take on the NWSL Shield winners on Nov. 14. Another team that has lost just twice at home this year, the Thorns will be a tough ask for Gotham. During the regular season, Portland twice beat Gotham, with one match ending in a draw. 

The Thorns will be heavily favored, meaning there’s a good chance Carli Lloyd’s season ends on Nov. 14. But then again, Lloyd has made a career out of proving people wrong, so she could conceivably propel her side into the final.

If Gotham FC reaches the NWSL final, Carli Lloyd’s final game will be on Saturday, Nov. 20, in Louisville. Despite all her national-team accolades (including two Women’s World Cups and two Olympic gold medals), Lloyd has never won a league title at the professional club level. Could she achieve one last major accomplishment before hanging up her boots?

Given how well they’ve been playing lately, I expect OL Reign to reach the NWSL final, regardless of whether they play Washington or North Carolina in the semifinals. The Reign have been the hottest team in the second half of the season and nearly caught Portland for the NWSL Shield. Could Lloyd engineer one of the greatest upsets of her career in her final game? You wouldn’t put it past her.

Regardless, we’re set up for what should be an enthralling 2021 NWSL playoffs. This is the first season six teams made the playoffs, and we’ll be eager to see how it all turns out. 

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