NWSL Power Rankings: KC has the look of a title contender

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

Our Power 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 trusty statistical models have ranked all 14 clubs in the league after Matchday 2. Let’s dive in.

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Previous ranking: 5

Next match: Saturday vs. Angel City, 2:30 p.m. ET

Beating Portland to open the season was impressive, but that was a unique day with the opening of the Current’s new stadium giving them a little extra juice. Backing it up would be a whole other challenge, but they were up to it with a 2-1 win in San Diego. They now have two very impressive wins, seven goals from seven different scorers, and new signings Bia Zaneratto and Temwa Chawinga look terrific despite not quite being at full fitness. The attack is good and going to get better, so if they can tighten up that defense then we might have ourselves a title contender.

Previous ranking: 1

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

The Courage went to altitude in Utah and pinned the Royals back all game. They had all of the ball and all of the chances, earned two penalties and got a great goal from Ashley Sanchez. Somehow, they still managed to lose 2-1. It’s a strange sport, but there’s no doubt how good the Courage are.

Previous ranking: 2

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

The Reign defended pretty well in Chicago and Ji So-Yun was the best player on the pitch from the jump. She added an absolute banger for her first Seattle goal, too. You’d think that would have been enough to take at least a point, but things did not go their way and they fell 2-1.

Previous ranking: 8

Next match: Saturday at North Carolina Courage, 7 p.m. ET, live on ESPN+

Esther scored the winning goal in the NWSL Championship last year, so it was only fitting that she deliver the winner in Gotham’s first regular-season match of 2024. Her tally lifted Goth past Portland 1-0 for a very impressive away win without the injured Rose Lavelle and Lynn Williams. An injury to Midge Purce put a damper on the win, though, and at some point Gotham need to start getting healthy — or at least stop getting more injured.



Esther González slots home the opening goal for Gotham FC

Esther González scores from inside the box to give Gotham FC a 1-0 lead over the Portland Thorns.

Previous ranking: 3

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

A late penalty kick doomed San Diego to a disappointing 2-1 home loss to Kansas City, but it’s hard to find much fault in its play because it was mostly solid in a high-quality match against a good team. A healthy Jaedyn Shaw being able to play from the start might have made the difference, but it wasn’t the Wave’s night.

Previous ranking: 10

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

It was nearly June before the Red Stars won their second game of the season last year en route to a bottom-of-the-table finish. That is far in the past, though. They beat Seattle 2-1 to win their first two games of the season for the first time in club history and put them top of the table. They’re doing this with Mallory Swanson still working her way back from injury, too. It’s a whole new era in Chicago.

Previous ranking: 4

Next match: Saturday vs. Racing Louisville, 7:30 p.m. ET, live on ESPN+

It’s a wonder that Sophia Smith didn’t score against Gotham. It took some heroic defending, great goalkeeping, yellow card-worthy fouls and even VAR to keep her off the scoresheet, but she never found the back of the net and neither did Portland in a 1-0 defeat. The Thorns have now taken two losses to kick off the campaign and need to start picking up some points.

Previous ranking: 14

Next match: Sunday vs. Utah Royals, 1 p.m. ET

The Spirit made a big bet on youth this winter, moving veterans for the third and fifth overall picks in the draft. Those picks, Croix Bethune and Hal Hershfelt, both scored phenomenal goals to lead Washington to a 2-1 win over Bay FC. It is still early, but the Spirit have got to be feeling great about their moves to land those two youngsters.



Croix Bethune wins it for Washington Spirit in added time

Washington Spirit get a goal from Croix Bethune in the final minute of added time to beat Bay FC 2-1.

Previous ranking: 6

Next match: Saturday vs. Houston Dash, 10 p.m. ET

It was a bizarre start to the weekend for Bay FC with Alex Loera being held out because of an “internal team issue” a week after captaining the team in their first-ever game. Things didn’t end much better with Washington scoring deep into stoppage time to beat Bay 2-1.

Previous ranking: 7

Next match: Saturday at Kansas City current, 2:30 p.m. ET

Angel City went to Orlando and put in a strong 90 minutes. The center back pairing of Paige Nielsen and Sarah Gorden was very good and they should have gone home with three points, but Marta scored a great goal and they had to settle for a draw. Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap to a legend.

Previous ranking: 9

Next match: Saturday at Portland Thorns, 7:30 p.m. ET

Racing had to settle for a 0-0 draw with Houston, but it wasn’t for lack of chances. Rookie Reilyn Turner had six shots on target all on her own and Louisville looked like they had themselves a winner, only to see it cleared off the line, so the scoreline didn’t quite do them justice.

Previous ranking: 11

Next match: Sunday at Washington Spirit, 1 p.m. ET

Utah’s 2-1 win over North Carolina looks great as long as you look only at the scoreboard. Look further and you’ll see little possession, a mere two shots, a match spent in its own third and two missed Courage penalties, but the Royals don’t have to give those three points back.

Previous ranking: 12

Next match: Friday vs. Chicago Red Stars, 7 p.m. ET

It wasn’t a great evening for the Pride as they struggled to create much of anything and spent much of the second half down a goal, but then Marta pulled a late goal out of her hat and they had themselves a 1-1 draw. Marta magic is forever.



Marta scores off a corner to help Orlando Pride tie the score

Marta finds the net off a corner kick as the Orlando Pride tie the score in the 88th minute against Angel City FC.

Previous ranking: 13

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

Houston will be happy to have earned a point against Louisville, but it was hardly an impressive performance by anyone not named Jane Campbell. The Dash goalkeeper was typically excellent, but didn’t get a lot of help in front of her and they were fortunate to have taken a draw.