All eight NWSL teams are back in action with games Saturday and Sunday, when playoff teams could be narrowed down for the first time this season. Depending on the results, the NWSL could have its first casualty in Washington Spirit, who would have the distinction of being the only team mathematically unable to make the playoffs at this early stage. Although Seattle Reign remain a long shot, the Spirit are the only team at risk of being eliminated this weekend.

A win for Washington Spirit on Saturday on Chicago Red Stars turf would guarantee they stay in the running for at least one more week. But otherwise, the results of the Western New York Flash vs. Sky Blue FC match on Sunday will be the key. If Spirit loses and the Flash either beat or tie Sky Blue, Washington will be eliminated from the playoffs. Even if Spirit draws against the Red Stars, they need Sky Blue to come out on top.

Only the top four teams will advance to the playoffs for the championship. Here’s a breakdown of the team standings going into this weekend, Week 15:

# Team Pts GD GR Max
1 Sky Blue FC 31 10 6 49
2 Portland Thorns FC 27 5 7 48
3 FC Kansas City 26 7 6 44
4 Western New York Flash 24 8 6 42
5 Boston Breakers 20 1 7 41
6 Chicago Red Stars 19 -4 7 40
7 Seattle Reign FC 15 -10 6 33
8 Washington Spirit 7 -17 7 28

(Glossary – Pts: Points, GD: Goal Difference, GR: Games Remaining, Max: Maximum points possible)

Going into Saturday’s game, Spirit can still earn up to 28 points. If they lose Saturday, going into next week their maximum possible points would be 25. Western New York currently has 24 points, but if they win and come out of Sunday with 27 points, for instance, that would mean the top four teams in the league have more points than Washington Spirit’s maximum possible, thus mathematically eliminating Spirit from playoffs contention.

Goal differentials will only factor into tie-breakers. According to NWSL rules, if two or more teams are tied on points at the end of the regular season, the tie will be broken through the following steps:

Two teams
1. Head-to-head record
2. Overall goal difference
3. Overall goals scored
4. Head-to-head road record
5. Goal difference in all road games
6. Goals scored in all road games
7. Head-to-head home record
8. Goal difference in all home games
9. Goals scored in all home games
10. Coin toss

Three teams
1. Points per game against other two teams
2. Overall goal difference
3. See tiebreaker procedure for two-team scenarios

If two teams are still tied after the third team has advanced via the tiebreaker, the tie will be broken using the two-team tiebreaker rules.

Caitlin can be reached at @wosocait on Twitter.