Thursday, February 22, 2024
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NWSL 2024 Power Rankings: NJ/NY Gotham FC lead the way, San Diego Wave close second

With the NWSL Draft over and a bunch of free agents signing, here’s how things stand

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Preseason in NWSL is right around the corner with markets open to players next week. There’s still time for teams to make moves ahead of the regular season as the North Carolina Courage and Chicago Red Stars dominated headlines around their recent signings, while some teams still need to build out their rosters. The NWSL regular season kicks off on March 16 so let’s take a look at where teams landed on our power rankings heading into preseason.

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2024 NWSL Power Rankings

Rank Team Change Analysis

1.

NJ/NY Gotham FC

Reigning champions get the honors of the top spot after a remarkable worst-to-first turnaround. Club has an even bigger target on their backs after a massive offseason where they signed four of the top targets in free agency. Signing Crystal Dunn, Tierna Davidson, Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett make them early offseason winners.

2.

San Diego Wave FC

The 2023 Shield winners will begin their year looking primed for another postseason run with some extra offseason additions in Elyse Bennett and Savannah McCaskill. The club also re-signed forwards Makenzy Doniak and Amirah Ali, defender Christen Westphal and midfielder Emily Van Egmond for another run back to the playoffs.

3.

North Carolina Courage

Despite losing Kerolin for a large part of 2024 with an ACL injury, they utilized draft day to make major moves. A deal for a first-round pick to acquire Ashley Sanchez, and free agents Dani Weatherholt and Bianca St. Georges are all starting caliber signings. Adding international German national team defender Felicitas Rauch makes the backline stronger and more lethal. 

4.

Orlando Pride

The Pride just missed out on the playoff last season on goal differential (-1) and have added more pieces to boost the squad. Midfield additions include two-time USWNT World Cup champion Morgan Gautrat and Brazilian international Angelina. It’s officially Orlando de Janeiro now with five Brazilian players on the squad and head coach Seb Hines and staff may have what they need to break through the playoff line. 

5.

Portland Thorns FC

The franchise finally has a new ownership group with RAJ Sports and can look ahead to building a new era of Thorns soccer. The club suffered some player turnover in free agency departures of Natalia Kuikka and Crystal Dunn. With unknown next moves for other free-agent players, things may feel unstable, but the truth is this team still has one of the best midfields in the league and 2023 Golden Boot winner Sophia Smith.

6.

Angel City FC

Head coach Becki Tweed will have a full season in front of her to work with her roster on a longer postseason march after turning things around for the club at the halfway point last year. She’ll have a young core of players to develop with Alyssa Thompson and new under-18 signings Gisele Thompson and Casey Phair.

7.

Seattle Reign FC

They recently re-branded back to its original name and logo perhaps hinting toward a finish line to ongoing negotiations for new ownership. They suffered some free agent departures in Angelina, Lavelle and Sonnet but head coach Laura Harvey has plenty to work with on a roster filled with veteran talent.

8.

Washington Spirit

The Spirit made plenty of eyeballs widen when they traded Sanchez and Sam Staab on draft day. In return, they did pick up top prospects Croix Bethune, Makenna Morris and Hal Hershfelt among others in the draft, but they won’t have new head coach Jonatan Giraldez on the sideline till June and have yet to name an interim head coach.

9.

Chicago Red Stars

The franchise suffered another season of massive player exodus, but with a new ownership and leadership group in place, things are starting to turn around. A new head coach, some experienced free agent signings and re-signing Mallory Swanson to a record contract will make the Red Stars a team to keep an eye on.

10.

Racing Louisville FC

Racing is still looking for its first playoff appearance since entering the league in 2021 and finds itself in another reset. There’s a different feeling with this one now that it’s former NWSL pro Bev Yanez taking the reigns as head coach. Adding new exciting attackers Linda Motlhalo, Elexa Bahr and newly drafted Reilyn Turner could be just the refresh the club needs.

11.

Houston Dash

Retaining Maria Sanchez was huge. But the club hired its fifth head coach since their 2015 expansion into the league. New manager Fran Alonso will need to get more out of a roster that has strong attacking pieces in Sanchez, Diana Ordonez, Michelle Alozie and now CeCe Kizer.

12.

Utah Royals FC

One of two new expansion sides, Utah wasted little time in building out their roster ahead of the expansion draft and NWSL Draft. Plenty of experienced NWSL players on the squad but we still have to see how it all looks on the pitch. Head coach Amy Rodriguez is a former NWSL champion and USWNT 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion and top 2024 draft pick Ally Sentnor could be a big game changer.

13.

Kansas City Current

Kansas City welcomed head coach Vlatko Andonovski back to his adopted hometown of Kansas City. His return comes after a disappointing World Cup finish as USWNT head coach and the club is looking to get back to the playoffs after a near last-place finish in 2023 and 2022 runners-up finish. 

14.

Bay FC

The expansion side set the stage for big things after setting a skyrocketing expansion bid of $53 million and an additional $125 million toward club investment. Head coach Albertin Montoya is getting his first shot as an NWSL head coach after previous interim and assistant stints and the roster still needs some more players with an international or two.

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