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NWSL playoffs: Red Stars eliminate Gotham FC, ending Carli Lloyd's legendary career

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The Chicago Red Stars advanced to the NWSL semifinals with a 1-0 win over NJ/NY Gotham FC in the first of two quarterfinal games on Sunday. The loss by Gotham FC marked the final game for USWNT legend Carli Lloyd, who previously announced she would retire after the NWSL season concluded. 

The Red Stars will face the No. 1 seeded Portland Thorns. The Washington Spirit, a 1-0 winner over the North Carolina Courage in extra time, will face the No. 2 OL Reign. The top two seeds received a bye and return to action on Nov. 14. 

Red Stars advance to semifinals

The Red Stars had built chances 50 minutes in and twice had breakaway opportunities thwarted by Gotham FC. In the 61st minute, Sarah Woldmoe forced the turnover and dished it to Mal Pugh, who bent the ball into the far post. 

Chicago nearly doubled it four minutes later on a shot attempt by Kealia Watt. And Pugh nearly made it a brace in the 79th minute on a breakaway. 

Pugh, a 2019 World Cup champion with USWNT, is looking to back up a championship on her partner, Dansby Swanson. The Atlanta Braves shortstop celebrated a World Series victory last week with Pugh in attendance

It was the first loss for Gotham FC under head coach Scott Parkinson, who was hired in late August. The club won three and drew three under his leadership.  

Lloyd's NWSL career

Carli Lloyd
Carli Lloyd is retiring after an incredible career in botht he NWSL and with the USWNT. (Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images)

Lloyd, 39, announced her retirement in August after the U.S. women's national soccer team won bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, her fourth appearance and third Olympic medal. She played her final four games with the national team this fall in a series of friendlies. It started with a record-tying five goals against Paraguay and ended on an emotional note in Minneapolis, Minnesota, two weeks ago against South Korea. 

The USWNT legend played in the NWSL since its founding in 2013, representing three different clubs over the years. She was part of at least four matches every season except 2020, when she missed the Challenge Cup played in a bubble because of COVID-19 while she rehabbed a knee injury. 

Lloyd played 107 NWSL matches, all of two of which she started, coming into the playoffs, according to Football Reference. She scored 35 goals and 11 assists in more than 8,000 minutes played for the domestic league. She made 11 appearances for Manchester City in 2017, helping the club to the FA Cup and scoring in the final at Wembley Stadium. 

She has never won a NWSL championship title, but did earn an NWSL shield for best regular season record while with the Western New York Flash in the league's inaugural season. 

NWSL playoffs schedule 

Quarterfinals — Sunday, Nov. 7

No. 4 Chicago Red Stars 1, No. 5 NJ/NY Gotham FC 0

No. 3 Washington Spirit 1, No. 6 North Carolina Courage 0

Semifinals — Sunday, Nov. 14

No. 3 Washington Spirit at No. 2 OL Reign, 3 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network 

No. 4 Chicago Red Stars at No. 1 Portland Thorns FC, 5:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network 

Final — Saturday, Nov. 20

CBS, 12 p.m. ET at held at Louisville's Lynn Family Stadium

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