NWSL Power Rankings week 8: Goals on goals on goals

May 21, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; New Jersey/New York Gotham FC forward Lynn Williams (10) reacts after scoring a goal during the first half against OL Reign at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael Thomas Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports
May 21, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; New Jersey/New York Gotham FC forward Lynn Williams (10) reacts after scoring a goal during the first half against OL Reign at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Michael Thomas Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports /

There are no longer any undefeated teams in the NWSL after week eight, where teams can fall and rise and turn in the blink of an eye. After all the upsets and upturns, here are your week eight NWSL power rankings.

It wouldn’t be the chaotic NWSL we all know and love if there was an unbeaten streak allowed to continue any further than eight weeks. The Spirit saw themselves dethroned by the queen herself as Marta showed up for the Pride this week. Also, purple is in as Racing continues to climb its way up the table with forward momentum. And Gotham FC is putting in the work to make their worst-to-first dreams come true. Here are the week 8 NWSL power rankings.

NWSL Week 8 Power Rankings:

1. NJ/NY Gotham FC

Gotham were the complete package on Sunday night, with an excellent ninety minutes from their entire squad. They’re sitting rightfully at the top of the standings and the top of the power rankings this week with their electric performance. They played strong defensively, forcing turnovers from the Reign and overwhelming their players to break down any potential chances. They were on the front foot offensively, playing magnificent through balls and of course, Lynn Williams scored, making this the third birthday she’s scored on. This contributes to a very fun stat: No other player in the league has ever scored on more than one birthday, so happy birthday Lynn Williams. But this win was a team effort, and Gotham are looking to be the comeback story that everyone desires, going from worst in the league last season to top of the table this year.

2. San Diego Wave

The Wave stepped it up again this week, leaving no room for Houston to respond as they claimed all three points on the road with a 3-0 victory. Alex Morgan started the game off quickly, putting the Wave in front inside the second minute, making it her fastest NWSL goal to date. The rest of the Wave contributed as well, with both Sierra Enge and Madison Pogarch earning their first professional goals. Sheridan didn’t have to work too hard, with the Dash punting most of their shots well over the goal, but she still made several notable saves and the Wave came out on top again.

3. Portland Thorns

While the Portland Thorns had a great showing against the Chicago Red Stars, watching one of the best teams in the league take down the last-place squad was to be expected, which is why the Thorns are bringing up the rear of the top three in this week’s power rankings. Portland’s usual suspects were at it again, with Crystal Dunn finding herself another goal and assist, and Sam Coffey finding two assists. The Thorns didn’t allow Chicago to score, and broke down their defense early, finding space in all the right places. Portland faces a tough challenge next week as they travel down the coast to take on the San Diego Wave and the roar of Snapdragon Stadium.

4. Washington Spirit

The Spirit lose their unbeaten streak this week, falling 2-1 against Orlando on a road match. After eight games without a loss, this one will sting for a moment but it’s highly likely that the Spirit will shake this one off and bounce back next week. Frankly, their attacking talent demands it. While they’ve slid down with the loss, the Spirit are still dangerous and consistent. Their lone goal in this match came from a Sam Staab header, the defender being incredibly clinical in set pieces. But the Spirit struggled to defend against the Pride who lofted balls on the wings to bypass the midfield and go straight for the throat.

5. Racing Louisville

Sneaking into the top half of the table this week, Racing Louisville had a remarkable performance against the Kansas City Current. Midfielder Savannah DeMelo came through with another goal for her squad, making this the third goal in her last two matches. Racing have been on a roll lately, making this their second defeat of the Current in a row after beating them at home in a Challenge Cup match. Racing are full of talent, and it’s exciting to see that talent finally coming together in their third NWSL season. They won’t settle for ninth place again this season.

6. OL Reign

The Reign were out of sync on Sunday, falling hard against a Gotham squad that was firing on all cylinders. They found themselves committing errors that led to incredible opportunities for Gotham, including Lu Barnes giving away a ball that led to the second Gotham goal from Williams. Their defense was not at all on the same page, and they lost momentum from the moment Gotham came out on the front foot. The goal they managed to get back off of Jordyn Huetima was scrappy at best, and they have to remind themselves to get their heads back in the game before they take on Angel City next week.

7. Orlando Pride

The Pride provided the headline of the weekend as they contributed to the league of chaos by ending Washington’s unbeaten streak. Let it be known that Marta is back, scoring the penalty kick to get Orlando into this game and assisting on the game-winner with her excellent corner delivery service to Kylie Strom. The Pride are starting to gain momentum, unbeaten in their last four regular season matches with three of those being wins. The Pride’s combination of veteran service and rookie pizzazz could easily lead them to a playoff spot, but it’s a bit too early to tell exactly where they’ll be landing.

8. North Carolina Courage

The Courage could’ve pulled off the win last weekend and that’s why they’ve slipped down in the power rankings this week. They were great in all aspects except for finishing, which ended up costing them the match. Too many of their shots went just wide of goal which was unfortunate considering all the work they were putting in to generate chances. They did well on the other end too, with Emily Fox and Denise O’Sullivan leading a united defense. But a great performance isn’t worth a whole lot if you can’t get the ball in the back of the net and the Courage are surely feeling that after splitting points in what could’ve been a decisive victory.

9. Angel City FC

The Angels traveled to take on the Courage away from home this week, and couldn’t get a goal out of the match despite a couple of chances. They skied a few balls and tapped a couple wide, having similar issues as their opponent. But they also lost control, letting the Courage dominate the game and control the pacing which almost cost them the match. With only 40 percent possession, six shots in total, and just one shot on target, Angel City got lucky they were able to split the points. Not to mention the 68 percent of completed passes to the Courage’s 86%, which resulted in many turnovers and left LA exhausted from constantly running down the ball.

10. Kansas City Current

The ups and downs of Kansas City are akin to a rollercoaster of a season as the Current struggled against Racing Louisville this week and walked away without any points as a result. There were a few breakaway moments from Debinha, which is to be expected, but ultimately they didn’t amount to anything as Abby Erceg, Jaelin Howell, and Julia Lester locked down the midfield. The Current are consistently making good offensive runs and they are looking better each game, but their defense leaves much to be desired. All the goals in the world won’t matter if they continue to get scored on. Their inconsistency in a starting keeper seems to mess with the flow as well, and hopefully, they’ll soon get a permanent head coach and a less-stacked injury list. But for the moment, they’ll have to rely on their offense generating more goals than they allow.

11. Houston Dash

The Dash didn’t take their defeat sitting down, but it was clear from the start that their tempo was off ever since Alex Morgan scored in the second minute. They had a few good looks at goal but managed to put too much power behind several shots and sky them clear over the net into no-man’s-land. Michelle Alozie had a particularly productive game, moving the ball forward on the wings and connecting well with Ebony Salmon to make Sheridan come out for a few saves. The Dash faltered the most with the last touch, whether that was the shot on goal or the attempted cross, things continued to fall through the cracks and they’ll be looking to nail down those details over the next couple matches.

12. Chicago Red Stars

Oh Chicag-no. The Red Stars suffered another tough loss this week, unable to respond to the four goals that Portland scored against them. A team that is desperately searching for their identity is running out of time to find it as the season passes them by. They’ve conceded six more goals than the Kansas City Current, making them the worst in the league by a large margin as far as being scored on with 22 goals against them. There are a combination of issues contributing to this problem, but Chicago needs to re-evaluate their game plan before they come out against the Orlando Pride next week.

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