The Independence missed an opportunity to put a firm grip on second place with Sunday's 1-0 Women's Professional Soccer loss to host Sky Blue at Rutgers University.
The loss dropped the Independence to 10-7-4 (34 points) with three games left. They hold a five-point lead over the Boston Breakers for second place, but Boston has played one fewer game.
The Independence hosts Boston in Sunday's 6 p.m. match at West Chester University.
Earning second place is important because it guarantees a team an automatic berth in the semifinal. The second-place team would also host the game.
Defending champion Sky Blue (7-9-4) is tied with the Washington Freedom for the fourth and final playoff berth. However, Sky Blue has four remaining games compared to three for Washington. Those two teams play on Saturday at Washington.
Sunday's game was halted in the 17th minute due to lightning and delayed nearly two hours.
The lone goal came in the 61st minute when Sky Blue's Yael Averbuch converted a feed from Heather O'Reilly for her first goal of the season.