NWSL Power Rankings: KC Current undefeated, Bay FC drop

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 nine. Let’s dive in.

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Previous ranking: 1

Next match: Saturday vs. Racing Louisville, 9:30 p.m. ET

The still-undefeated Kansas City Current took a nil-nil draw from Seattle Reign in the midweek (hammering out 19 shots in a game they controlled, though Lauren Ivory’s six saves stymied them), before overcoming North Carolina 1-0 at home Sunday night. With a wicked attack that should scare all opposition this year, Brazil‘s Debinha made her first start since returning from injury and clocked the difference-making goal to become the 12th goalscorer for the Current this season.

Previous ranking: 3

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

Portland’s remarkable season turnaround continues to catch fire as the Thorns beat regional rivals Seattle Reign 4-0 at home Saturday night. Portland’s form is a club-wide accomplishment, but Sophia Smith has been immense in their five-match winning run. After notching one goal and three assists against Seattle, Smith leads both the NWSL goals and assists tallies with eight goals and six assists this season. And across Portland’s five-game unbeaten streak, Smith has accrued a record-setting 11 goal contributions, the most goal contributions in a five game span in NWSL history, per Opta.

Previous ranking: 2

Next match: Sunday at Seattle Reign FC, 6 p.m. ET

Alongside Kansas City, the Pride are one of just two teams still undefeated in 2024. Now sitting second in the standings, Kansas City reclaimed the top spot solely on goal differential this weekend. With a midweek 1-0 victory over Racing Louisville, the Pride handed Louisville their first loss of the year before taking another 1-0 victory from Bay FC Saturday evening. They came into the season humble but with a third of the year wrapped up and newly accrued Barbra Banda clocking her fourth goal in five games (the highest goals per 90 in NWSL) in the midweek, I think it’s safe to say the Pride are the real deal this season.

Previous ranking: 4

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

The Spirit recovered from a loss to ascendant Portland by handing Racing Louisville their second loss of the season. Friday’s 2-1 victory on the road started strong thanks to rookie sensation Croix Bethune‘s fourth goal of the year, which she sent to the back of the net with a cool strike in the fourth minute to capitalize on a corner, bringing her contribution tally to four goals and four assists in nine games for her debut season.

Previous ranking: 5

Next match: Friday vs. Utah Royals FC, 8 p.m. ET

North Carolina picked up a worrying third loss in a row against league-leaders Kansas City Current this Sunday. The streak is concerning, though falling 1-0 to Kansas City isn’t the end of the world, especially considering they held among the league’s most formidable attacks to just one goal (though they have Casey Murphy‘s seven saves to thank for this). Still, they’ve struggled to produce sufficient quality chances in their recent form, scoring only one goal in their past three games and unfurling just seven shots and two on target against the Current.

Previous ranking: 6

Next match: Sunday vs. Chicago Red Stars, 5 p.m. ET

Gotham picked up a 1-0 win over Houston Dash in the midweek as Lynn Williams equalled Sam Kerr‘s most goals all time record in NWSL in her sixth match of the year. Still recovering from early season injuries, Gotham then took a respectable 1-1 draw on the road against San Diego Wave Sunday evening. As we head into matchday 10, the reigning champs have picked up respectable wins on slim margins while significantly underperforming their xG, still looking like they have a lot left to give this season.

Previous ranking: 10

Next match: Friday at Bay FC, 10:30 p.m. ET

Sitting mid-table with a game in hand, San Diego are nursing a sizable number of knocks from their starting lineup. Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Gotham saw Alex Morgan, Naomi Girma, Abby Dahlkemper, Sofia Jakobsson, and Melanie Barcenas all sidelined with injury. Concerningly, 19-year-old phenom Jaedyn Shaw left the draw with a stoppage time injury as well. They look like a team still looking for their form, but first priority will be getting everybody healthy.

Previous ranking: 8

Next match: Sunday at NJ/NY Gotham FC, 5 p.m. ET

When it rains it pours. Soon to be US manager Emma Hayes may be looking across the sea with mounting concern, as the USWNT’s starting keeper Alyssa Naeher also left the pitch injured in Chicago’s 3-1 victory over bottom of the table Utah Royals. On the bright side for Chicago, the Red Stars continued their efficient goal scoring operation, as they accrued three goals with just 38% of possession, finishing the weekend as the fourth-highest scoring team in the league.

Previous ranking: 7

Next match: Saturday at Kansas City Current, 9:30 p.m. ET

Savannah DeMelo‘s freekick golazo to bring Louisville level wasn’t enough to overcome their visitors, Washington Spirit, as Racing picked up their second straight loss after starting the season unbeaten.

Previous ranking: 9

Next match: Sunday vs. Orlando Pride, 6 p.m. ET

After holding the league-leaders (Kansas City) to a respectable 0-0 draw in the midweek, Seattle took a beating in Portland as they fell 4-0 to their Cascadian rivals Saturday night. Holding Sophia Smith and company at bay is a tall order these days, but Seattle will head home to a tough match with unbeaten Orlando Pride next weekend while nursing their egos from this rivalry rout.

Previous ranking: 11

Next match: Saturday at Washington Spirit, 7:30 p.m. ET

Despite Claire Emslie‘s five goals and serious talent in their attacking ranks, Angel City underwhelmed offensively again this weekend, as they produced just three shots on target with 58% of the ball in a 1-0 loss to Houston Dash.

Previous ranking: 13

Next match: Friday vs. Portland Thorns, 8 p.m. ET

Houston picked up just their second win of the year with a 1-0 victory over Angel City FC on Sunday thanks to Paige Nielsen‘s goal in the eight minute of stoppage time. With that, the Dash have picked up five points from their past four games (one win, one loss, two draws), though they face a formidable five-match unbeaten Portland Thorns in Houston this Friday.

Previous ranking: 12

Next match: Friday vs. San Diego Wave FC, 10:30 p.m. ET

Nobody has allowed more goals than Bay FC this season, with 20 goals put past them at the close of week nine. Their 1-0 loss to unbeaten Orlando Pride on Friday required nine saves from Bay FC’s keeper Kateyln Rowland to keep the margin of loss to one goal. It’s hard to find optimism for Bay FC’s dynamic attack until they get their defensive lapses in line.

Previous ranking: 14

Next match: Friday at North Carolina Courage, 8 p.m. ET

Expansion side woes continue for Utah Royals, who’ve struggled in their first season back in NWSL. Still, moments of individual brilliance have broken through, including this weekend’s 81st minute strike from 24-year-old Utah-native Cameron Tucker to mark her first-ever NWSL goal. The lone goal came in Utah’s 3-1 loss to Chicago, their seventh of the season (tied with Bay FC for most in the league).