NWSL Power Rankings: KC Current unbeaten as Utah Royals struggle

It’s Monday, and another week of NWSL action is in the books, which means it’s time for ESPN’s Power Rankings.

Our rankings are derived from a combination of key season statistics (points per game, goal differential, expected goal differential), recent performance, the Opta computer ratings and the observations of our writers.

Who’s climbing the table? Who’s in free fall? Our writers and statistical models have ranked all 14 clubs in the league after matchday eight. Let’s dive in.

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Previous ranking: 1

Next match: Wednesday at Seattle Reign FC, 10 p.m. ET

There are two ways to look at the Current’s result over the weekend — a 1-1 draw against the Houston Dash. The first option is this: Kansas City dropped points against one of the worst teams in the league. The second (and correct) option is this: Kansas City earned a point on the road after surviving an hourslong rain delay and outshooting Houston 29 to eight. Yeah, this team is going to be fine.

Previous ranking: 4

Next match: Saturday vs. Bay FC, 7:30 p.m. ET

With their team top of the actual NWSL table and the only undefeated one left outside of the Current, Orlando fans can have a legitimate gripe with their squad’s spot in second in these rankings. Barbra Banda is scoring an utterly absurd 1.25 goals per 90 minutes and the defense continues to be the best in the league in terms of non-penalty expected goals allowed. The Pride are legit, folks.

Previous ranking: 4

Next match: Saturday vs. Seattle Reign FC, 10 p.m. ET

That wild 5-4 loss on opening weekend seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it? Portland is now on a four-game winning streak and earned its most impressive win of 2024 on Saturday against the Washington Spirit. The Thorns’ play against the ball is still a concern, but they are the only team in the league that has scored two or more goals in each of their past four games.

Previous ranking: 5

Next match: Friday at Racing Louisville, 8 p.m. ET

They had chances against Portland, but Washington couldn’t complete a late comeback after a Lena Silano goal brought them within one in a tough road match against the Thorns this past weekend. With 15 points through eight games and a comfy seat toward the top of the table, things are still way ahead of schedule in the nation’s capital.

Previous ranking: 2

Next match: Sunday at Kansas City Current, 6 p.m. ET

It was a no good, very bad week for the Courage, where they lost two straight games for the first time this year. They averaged 59.5% possession across those two losses — one to the Pride and one to Gotham — but averaged just 0.7 xG across those two games. Turning touches into chances remains this team’s biggest hurdle.

Previous ranking: 10

Next match: Wednesday at Houston Dash, 8 p.m. ET

We’re all still trying to figure out exactly what this Gotham team will look like in 2024, given all of their injury issues. But wins like the one against North Carolina over the weekend serve as a reminder of just how high their floor is. You don’t have Lynn Williams in your squad and just fade into the night.

Previous ranking: 7

Next match: Friday vs. Washington Spirit, 8 p.m. ET

Look, there’s no shame in conceding a goal to Banda or in losing to Orlando right now. Both of those things happened for Louisville on Sunday. Without Savannah DeMelo (concussion) and with both Jaelin Howell and Reilyn Turner starting this one on the bench, there simply wasn’t a ton of firepower in the spine.

Previous ranking: 8

Next match: Sunday vs. Utah Royals FC, 5:30 p.m. ET

While their midweek matchup with the Spirit was a game to forget, a pragmatic victory against Bay FC on Sunday set a solid blueprint for this team as they march through 2024. There weren’t a ton of frills for the Red Stars with 41% possession, but a nice bit of direct play on Penelope Hocking’s goal pushed Chicago toward a result.

Previous ranking: 12

Next match: Wednesday vs. Kansas City Current, 10 p.m. ET

Seattle prevailed in a red-card-riddled matchup with the San Diego Wave on Friday, despite playing with 10 for all but nine minutes of the game. There’s no ill a misplay from the opposing goalkeeper and a set-piece goal can’t fix, though.

Previous ranking: 6

Next match: Wednesday vs. Utah Royals FC, 10 p.m. ET

That opposing goalkeeper? Well, that was Kailen Sheridan, whose turnover in buildup helped Seattle level things in the first half. Savannah McCaskill was the only one of San Diego’s four attacking dynamos — Jaedyn Shaw, Maria Sanchez, Alex Morgan, and McCaskill — to start Friday. It’s hard to win games without your best players (and when you make game-changing mistakes).

Previous ranking: 9

Next match: Sunday vs. Houston Dash, 7:30 p.m. ET

Angel City got the job done against Utah on Friday, but with just five shots against Utah, it’s fair to have questions about Angel City’s attack right now. Now, two of those shots found the back of the net thanks to a Sydney Leroux goal and Claire Emslie’s penalty kick. But there’s room for more.

Previous ranking: 11

Next match: Saturday at Orlando Pride, 7:30 p.m. ET

Until Bay fix their defensive issues, their efforts to be a fun, free-flowing possession team won’t amount to much. Their crooked offside line for Chicago’s opener Sunday set a poor tone for a team in a tough spot.

Previous ranking: 13

Next match: Wednesday vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC, 8 p.m. ET

Eking out a point against the Kansas City Current isn’t a terrible result, but to do so at home while suffering shot after shot puts a damper on the Dash’s weekend outing.

Previous ranking: 14

Next match: Wednesday at San Diego Wave FC, 10 p.m. ET

We’re still waiting on that second win for the Utah Royals. They haven’t picked up three points in a single contest since a victory over the Courage got them on the board back in March. Utah continue to look flat and didn’t produce enough in a 2-1 loss to Angel City on Friday.

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