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NWSL Power Rankings: Courage are contenders — are they the favorites?

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We closed out last week with what felt like some season-defining wins and losses in the NWSL. Houston took down the league leaders, while Gotham got a statement 3-0 win on the road in Tacoma. Upstart Louisville, meanwhile, got their own 3-0 win and dominated a struggling Chicago side. 

Now comes the tough part. With the Olympics around the corner and the NWSL not taking a break, many of the league’s top teams will have to find a way to survive without their best players

Heading into what could be the most chaotic part of the season, here’s how I see the league today:

10. Kansas City — 

It looked like KC was about to get their first win of the season against the Spirit. It didn’t happen. Ashley Sanchez tied the game in the 72’, and then Trinity Rodman delivered the stoppage-time clincher. This Kansas City team is in a bad place, but I think their first win is coming sooner than later.

9. Chicago Red Stars — 

Needless to say, a 3-0 loss to Louisville FC is not how Chicago wanted to end their week. For a team stacked with USWNT talent, especially at the back, these results are reason enough to sound the alarm in Chicago. I’m interested to see how this team fares without their stars come the Olympics. It may be a much-needed reset for the group.

8. OL Reign (-2)

Oof. That 3-0 loss to Gotham WAS NOT IT. I want to give the Reign the benefit of the doubt and say that their new signings need some time to acclimate, but they’re going to want to accelerate that timeline. Yes it’s early, but the gap between the top group and the bottom is slowly starting to widen.

7. Racing Louisville — 

It’s hard not to root for this team! Ebony Salmon is the real deal, and her style of play fits perfectly with this league. The way she teams up with Yuki and Savannah McCaskill… *chef’s kiss.*

6. Houston Dash (+2)

A 2-1 win over the league leaders was exactly what the Dash needed to right the ship on what has been a rocky start to the year. I think we can all agree that the Maria Sanchez loan was far too short, but nonetheless, it paid off and give Houston the edge in the #SpaceRace.

5. Gotham FC — 

The top 5 of this list are near impossible to rank, and it was made that much harder after Gotham stormed into Tacoma and executed counter attacks that will give the Reign backline nightmares. I know I have them listed as fifth currently, but I’m calling it now: Gotham FC will make the playoffs this season.

4. Portland Thorns (-2)

After their loss to the Courage, the Thorns now have 3 losses in 7 games. They look dominant in their wins but haven’t been able to find any kind of momentum in their three losses. At their best, they’re unstoppable. But that “best” isn’t quite consistent enough yet, especially on the road.

3. Washington Spirit — 

The Spirit keep grinding out late wins and draws. A Trinity Rodman stoppage time masterpiece keeps them near the top of the table. You simply can’t doubt a team that finds ways to win, even when the games on the whole aren’t the prettiest.

2. NC Courage (+2)

The Courage continue to climb behind a three-win week that saw Lynn Williams go on an absolute tear, scoring four goals in the latter two games. Since her reunion with Sam Mewis, the Courage have once again looked like championship contenders if not the favorites. 

1. Orlando Pride — 

The Pride keep the top spot despite closing out a three-game week with a loss. They went on the road to Houston (who hadn’t played a midweek game) and still made it close. There was some general sloppiness on the goals conceded, but we will give the Pride a pass with the week they had. All eyes will be on their Sunday matchup with the NC Courage to see how they rebound.