After seven weeks of nonstop action, the NWSL is finally down to just one undefeated team, along with more chaotic shifts in the NWSL Power Rankings.
About a third of the way through the season, some teams are finally finding their groove while others are sealing their doom. The Washington Spirit remain the only undefeated team in the league, which is impressive considering this season has already seen 117 goals during regular season matches. The Spirit are first in the official standings and first in our power rankings this week, but where is everyone else shaking out after week seven?
Who is on top of the week 7 NWSL Power Rankings?
1. Washington Spirit
As said best by Andi Sullivan who provided the quote of the season during her halftime interview, the Spirit are looking “fit as hell”. Even though they only pulled out the victory by a single PK in the second half, the Spirit were on the front foot long before that. Their defense had a great game in particular, with McKeown and Kingsbury stepping up in big moments against strong attacks from Thompson and Emslie. As the only team left undefeated in the NWSL, it’s obvious they get to take the top spot in power rankings this week.
2. OL Reign
Everybody has bad days, and the Reign suffered a particularly bad match against the North Carolina Courage on the road. The Courage outpaced them consistently on the field, always keeping one step ahead of the Reign and leaving them fumbling for possession. When they did have the ball they didn’t seem to know what to do with it, turning over passes and finding a lack of productive motion in the midfield and forwards. If not for the offside flag, this match could’ve been a lot worse and the Reign have some work to do as they head back to Seattle.
3. San Diego Wave
The Wave are back and better than ever. After a couple of rough matches, Alex Morgan breathed new life into her side with a quick strike past Franch to put the Wave ahead. The Wave kept a clean sheet against a Current side that was hungry for goals, putting their impressive defense to work. Their second goal came soon after, and they didn’t stop looking for a third until the whistle blew. If they can continue to replicate that success into their next matches, they’ll find themselves in a much more comfortable position come playoffs.
4. NJ/NY Gotham FC
Gotham didn’t manage to get a win this week, settling for a tie with the Pride after a scoreless match. Their defense came up big time this week, securing them the win. Abby Smith had an excellent game, winning NWSL Player of the Week for her performance. The whole backline really pulled together, stopping the attack of Orlando several times. They had a few good looks at goal, but nothing to show for it. But it would be amiss to assume that will continue, as Kelley O’Hara said in the post-game press conference in regards to her teammate Lynn Williams, “for her not to score is an anomaly at this point.”
5. Portland Thorns
The Thorns fell to Houston this week, ending their unbeaten streak on the road with a 2-1 loss. It looked as though they were going to be the better side from the start, with Crystal Dunn striking a banger early to get them on the board. But ultimately, their defense couldn’t keep up with the attacking prowess of the Dash, leading to them conceding two more goals. Even with all their success, the Thorns have conceded a high number of goals this season, previously they’ve just been able to equalize or score more than their opponents regardless of getting scored on. But as the saying goes, the best offense is a good defense, and if they keep conceding such high numbers they’re going to struggle with having to come back so often and never feeling comfortable in a lead.
6. North Carolina Courage
Taking down OL Reign at home, the Courage are rebuilding themselves into playoff material after the losses of Debinha and Ordonez in the offseason. With a squad full of youth, the Courage ran circles around their opponents and found the back of the net three times. Unfortunately, they moved a little too quickly, and only one goal counted while the other two were offsides. But they never stopped going after it, sending excellent balls forward all the way from the backline and making excellent passes down the middle.
7. Houston Dash
The Dash dethroned the Thorns this week, making them the first team to beat last year’s champions so far. It was a bit of a close call, with Portland almost finding the equalizer several times in the second half. But overall, the Dash defense held their own, successfully stifling Sophia Smith and congesting the Thorn’s midfield to prevent them from moving the ball. While the Dash’s offense could still use some work in terms of strategy, the creativity of their talented players pushed them over the edge to victory.
8. Racing Louisville
Finding themselves having a successful victory at home, Racing might be finally building the confidence they need to be truly notable this season. Racing played a brilliant game against the Red Stars this weekend, beating them by three and not allowing any goals. This Racing side is more talented than people give them credit for, as they’ve flown under the radar the last two seasons with a few stand-out performances and a ninth-place finish both times. But it seems they’re fighting for the spotlight this season with Savannah DeMelo, Ary Borges, Wang Shuang, Jaelin Howell, Katie Lund, and Paige Monaghan. It’s totally possible for them to slowly climb the rankings and sneak up on a playoff spot before the league knows what hit them.
9. Angel City FC
Even during prom night, the Angels couldn’t find themselves a win at home. They played a tough match, going toe to toe with an energized Spirit side for ninety minutes. They kept up the pace, holding themselves to a high standard throughout the game and having a few really good looks at the goal. But sometimes one call makes all the difference, and while Angel City has been suffering from some particularly rough referee calls against them, that can’t be to blame for all their troubles. While LA waits for their bench to return to full health, they can continue to work on their attacking midfield and their defensive line.
10. Kansas City Current
The Current suffered the comeback of the San Diego Wave, on the receiving end of a 2-0 loss, unable to find an answer for the two goals they let slide past them. They got close a few times, but they couldn’t put Debinha in the right positions behind the talented backline of the Wave. The attacking prowess of the Current is likely to return, especially as their injuries begin to dwindle (although she didn’t see any minutes, Kristen Hamilton was taken off the injured list for this match) But they need to evaluate the keys to their success and find the right mix in their starting line up of players who get forward and players who fall back instead of being all over the place and leaving themselves vulnerable to the attack.
11. Orlando Pride
This week, Orlando held their own against Gotham, pulling off a scoreless match. But it’s their lack of ability to finish shots that is most concerning for the Pride at the moment. Oftentimes Orlando can find themselves in good positions, but they’re unable to convert chances into points on the board. They’re making good runs and maintaining a solid defensive structure, not to mention Moorhouse’s amazing saves, but they need to be clinical and decisive in the box or they’re going to continue to slip in the rankings.
12. Chicago Red Stars
The Red Stars suffered a brutal loss to Racing Louisville this week, continuing their downward spiral. They found themselves unable to keep up with their opponents and looking lost on the pitch with most of their passes being intercepted or turned over relatively quickly. Their ball control was severely lacking, and they looked as though they were fresh out of confidence, giving up three more goals. Chicago hasn’t appeared dangerous in a few weeks and it would do them some good to re-evaluate their strategy and try to get more of their youth involved in their plan of attack.