NWSL Power Rankings: KC looks unplayable as Utah hits bottom

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 3. Let’s dive in.

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Previous ranking: 1

Next match: April 14 at Gotham FC, 6 p.m. ET

What a start to 2024 for the Current, a club that’s matching the lofty expectations set for them ahead of the 2023 campaign. After a 4-2 win over Angel City, Vlatko Andonovski’s squad leads the league in goals (11) and points (9) as the NWSL’s only perfect team. Temwa Chawinga, a 25-year-old forward who joined in the offseason, continues to look nearly unplayable in the right half space.

Previous ranking: 2

Next match: April 13 vs. Portland Thorns, 7 p.m. ET

The Courage enjoyed some revenge against Gotham FC after last year’s home playoff loss to the eventual 2023 champions. Manager Sean Nahas rolled out another striker-less lineup, with Ashley Sanchez and Brianna Pinto having real success crashing the box as an unorthodox front two. They were both involved on the go-ahead goal, with Pinto providing the finishing touch.

Previous ranking: 5

Next match: April 13 at Racing Louisville, 7:30 p.m. ET

They left it late against the Seattle Reign in a 1-0 win Friday, but there’s so much to like about this San Diego team. They applied smart defensive pressure out of Casey Stoney’s 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 shape, they transitioned quickly into the attack and they have the difference-makers higher up to get brute force wins.



San Diego finds a late winner in stoppage time

Alex Morgan gets a late assist on Emily van Egmond’s goal in stoppage time to lift San Diego past Seattle.

Previous ranking: 4

Next match: April 14 vs. Kansas City Current, 6 p.m. ET

It was a rough week for NJ/NY Gotham. First, they lost star winger and USWNT attacker Midge Purce for the season with a torn ACL. Then they went down to North Carolina and left empty-handed. The thing about Gotham, though, is that they’re so talented that even in the bad, there’s some good. They had their best chance-creating game of the season Saturday.

Previous ranking: 3

Next match: April 14 at Bay FC, 8 p.m. ET

Speaking of creating chances, that’s a problem for Seattle. We’re still in the earliest of early days, but Laura Harvey’s squad is dead last in the league in non-penalty expected goals (xG) per 90 minutes with just 0.73, according to FBref. They didn’t come close to imposing themselves on the ball against San Diego — it’s the defensive structure that drives this team.

Previous ranking: 8

Next match: April 12 at Houston Dash, 8 p.m. ET

It’s a whole bucketload of fun watching Trinity Rodman and Croix Bethune play soccer this season. The two combined brilliantly in the attack for the Spirit in a 2-1 home win over Utah. Rodman’s speed and well-weighted crosses mixed with Bethune’s close control and box-crashing ability is a devastating combination.



Andi Sullivan’s PK puts Spirit ahead

Washington takes a 1-0 lead over Utah as Andi Sullivan converts a penalty kick.

Previous ranking: 7

Next match: April 13 at North Carolina Courage, 7 p.m. ET

The giant defensive question marks continue to float around the Portland Thorns. Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Racing Louisville wasn’t quite as shocking as their season opener against Kansas City, but going down 2-0 in six minutes in front of your home fans? Not a great look. Controlling space inside their own 18 is a major issue, just like it was for large stretches of 2023.

Previous ranking: 6

Next match: April 13 vs. Angel City, 9:30 p.m. ET

Another weekend, another result for Chicago. The Red Stars weren’t convincing against Orlando, but a 1-1 draw on the road is nothing to sneeze at. We’re still waiting on Lorne Donaldson to find a way to involve Mallory Swanson in more attacking sequences: Her touches per 90 are down from 52.9 in 2022 to 30.7 through the first few games after her long-term knee injury suffered last April. Maybe a goal will be what she needs to get going.



Mallory Swanson’s goal ties the score for the Red Stars

Mallory Swanson’s goal ties the score for the Red Stars

Previous ranking: 11

Next match: April 13 vs. San Diego Wave, 7:30 p.m. ET

Racing started off hot against Portland, with a brace from Uchenna Kanu putting them up 2-0 in the first six minutes at Providence Park. Between Kanu and rookie forward Reilyn Turner, there’s been a lot to like about Louisville’s attacking unit in this young 2024 campaign. Ultimately, its defensive block couldn’t hold the Thorns. Louisville won’t be the only team with that problem this year.

Previous ranking: 9

Next match: April 14 vs. Seattle Reign, 8 p.m. ET

Between their first home game at PayPal Park and a debut goal for Racheal Kundananji, it was a weekend full of firsts for Bay FC. That goal from Kundananji was an absolutely delightful left-footed strike from a difficult angle, one that helps remind us all why Bay made the forward a priority in their expansion roster build. Even as the attack rounds into form, the cracks are obvious. Bay FC conceded three goals after the 65th minute to drop all three points at home.

Previous ranking: 10

Next match: April 13 at Chicago Red Stars, 9:30 p.m. ET

Angel City became the latest NWSL team to fall at the hands of the buzzsaw that is the Kansas City Current. It’s hard to take too many positives away from a 4-2 loss, but Sydney Leroux finding the back of the net for just the third time in the past 10 months is a silver lining. A healthy, effective Leroux raises Angel City’s ceiling in a major way.

Previous ranking: 14

Next match: April 12 vs. Washington Spirit, 8 p.m. ET

Saturday’s wild 3-2 win over Bay FC is the just the kind of result that new manager Fran Alonso wants to point to as he encourages his team to be even more aggressive between the boxes. There are still plenty of questions about the Dash and their overall talent level, but four points through three games is a completely respectable tally.

Previous ranking: 13

Next match: April 12 at Utah Royals, 9:30 p.m. ET

Toss another draw onto the pile for Orlando. It picked up its third individual point of the season in a 1-1 draw with the Chicago Red Stars. The Pride outshot their opponents and kept the vast majority of the ball, but have a Barbra Banda-sized hole at the top of their attack.

Previous ranking: 12

Next match: April 12 vs. Orlando Pride, 9:30 p.m. ET

It was a lack of control that doomed Utah against the Spirit on Saturday — the lack of an attacker of Rodman’s quality didn’t help either. The Royals’ defensive block was far too stretched, far too often, leaving easily exploitable gaps for Washington’s versatile attackers. Amy Rodriguez needs this team to be compact first and adventurous second.