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NWSL Power Rankings: Kansas City Current back on the rise

Cece Kizer playing for Kansas City (Rob Kinnan/USA TODAY Sports)

Just Women’s Sports’ NWSL power rankings are back after a two-week break, and while we went on pause, the league chaos definitely did not.

As the Red Stars drop down the standings and OL Reign balance on the edge of losing their playoff position, teams continue to prove that anything can happen in the remaining six and a half weeks of the regular season. The NWSL’s East Coast teams have consistently been at the bottom of the standings. This past week, however, the last-place North Carolina Courage tied the No. 1 Portland Thorns, and the No. 8 Orlando Pride beat the third-place San Diego Wave. If that trend continues, the rankings might not be divided into “West Coast, best coast” and “East Coast, least coast” for long.

Only three teams remain in the same spot from the last power rankings on Aug. 3. Here is where the league’s 12 teams stand at this point in the season:

12. NJ/NY Gotham FC (4-9-0) -1

Gotham is in a period of transition. After the club parted ways with head coach Scott Parkinson last week, Beverly Goebel Yanez filled in until interim coach Hue Menzies arrived in time for their 4-1 loss to the Reign on Sunday. The team has struggled to find results since making a number of high-profile acquisitions in the offseason, and moving on from a coach who was well-liked by the players will require an adjustment period.

11. North Carolina Courage (2-6-4) -1

The Courage are the best/worst team this league has ever seen. Offensively, anyway. Despite sitting in last place in the standings, they continue to lead the league in possession, they have scored 23 goals in 12 games, and they tied the first-place Thorns last week. Against the Kansas City Current on Saturday, however, they lost 4-3, again conceding goals at the same rate that they scored them. The Courage have now given up three or more goals in each of their last three games.

10. Washington Spirit (1-6-9) -1

There isn’t much left to say about the Spirit. It’s the same narrative every time. They’re a dominant team that can often out-possess, out-shoot and pass with more accuracy than their opponents, like they did against the No. 1 Thorns on Wednesday. Where they come up short is in getting that finishing touch to hit the back of the net. The reigning champions need to fix it fast, because with only eight games left, the playoffs are about to be out of reach.

9. Racing Louisville FC (2-6-8) +3

Jumping three spots in the power rankings after two draws would seem laughable, and it wouldn’t have happened if Gotham, Washington and North Carolina hadn’t moved down. There is something to be said about Racing Louisville tying the No. 2 Houston Dash on Friday while playing down a player for 48 minutes. Thanks to hard work and discipline, Louisville controlled much of the second half. They carried the momentum over from their previous game, a draw with the Spirit, in which Louisville could have just as easily walked away with three points.

8. Orlando Pride (4-5-6) –

Undefeated across six games since the beginning of July and inching closer to playoff positioning, it’s becoming harder to remember that this is supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Orlando Pride. Most impressively, Orlando claimed a 1-0 win on Saturday over the San Diego Wave, who were in first place for most of the season. The win snapped the Pride’s three-draw streak and would have pushed them up the standings if there was a team ahead that deserved to drop.

7. Angel City FC (6-5-3) –

A draw and a win in the last two weeks kept Angel City at seventh in the league standings, but it won’t be long until they move into a playoff spot. Much like the Pride, they would also have risen in the power rankings if a top-six team deserved to move to seventh. Against the Red Stars on Sunday, they dominated for 65 minutes and held onto the 1-0 lead until the end. Savannah McCaskill, who scored the lone goal, called the performance a testament to their growth.

6. OL Reign (6-4-6) -1

The Reign have continued to quietly stick around. They evened out their 2-1 loss to Houston with a 4-1 win over Gotham on Sunday, scoring the most goals in a match all season. There was a little more hype at Lumen Field that day with OL Reign’s sister club, Olympique Lyonnais, visiting from France. The Reign will need to maintain that momentum because they are getting dangerously close to losing their grip on a playoff spot.

5. Chicago Red Stars (6-4-5) -1

The Red Stars have been off their rhythm throughout the last month, winning just one of their last four games. Teams in the lower half of the standings are starting to get desperate to secure a playoff spot, as Angel City showed in their 1-0 win over Chicago on Sunday. Especially at this point in the season, Chicago can’t take any opponent lightly.

4. San Diego Wave FC (7-5-4) -2

The first two weeks of August haven’t gone in the Wave’s favor. A poor defensive performance cost them against the Current in a 2-1 loss on Aug. 7. They improved against the Orlando Pride a week later, but were unable to find the back of the net and suffered another defeat, 1-0. With just one match left at the University of San Diego’s Torero Stadium, they might get a boost when they move into their brand-new Snapdragon Stadium. Until then, they’ll have to find their way out of fourth place in the power rankings.

3. Kansas City Current (7-4-4) +3

For the first time in franchise history, the Current have cracked into second place in points. With two wins in the last two weeks against San Diego and North Carolina, Kansas City earned the biggest jump in this week’s power rankings. In a 4-3 victory over the typically high-scoring Courage for their fourth straight road win, the Current showed they can take over a match in crunch time.

2. Houston Dash (7-4-4) +1

Houston has no more problems. A couple of hiccups in early July sent them back a bit, but they’ve been on the rise ever since, defeating the Reign 2-1 and drawing with Louisville 0-0 in their most recent games. It’s not ideal that for the rest of the season they’ll be without star player Rachel Daly, who left for Aston Villa, but the team has already gotten accustomed to life after Daly. When she was away all of July for the Euros, the Dash scored nine goals and picked up two wins. The addition of Ebony Salmon has been key to the team’s potent offense.

1. Portland Thorns FC (7-1-7) –

Portland is the obvious choice for first in these rankings. They’re the only team with a single loss — three fewer than the next-closest team — and the only team with a goal differential in the double digits at +21. In the last two weeks, they beat Washington 2-1 and tied with North Carolina 3-3 to extend their unbeaten streak to 11 games.

Jessa Braun is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering the NWSL and USWNT. Follow her on Twitter @jessabraun.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

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