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There’s a new No. 1 NWSL team in town.
The North Carolina Courage have won four straight and don’t look to be slowing down. Olympic-bound athletes will be gone by next weekend, testing teams’ depth at a crucial point in the season. Any NWSL team can win on any given weekend, and never is that more true than during an Olympics break. Expect some players to step up while other teams take a step back.
Heading into the most chaotic part of the season, here’s how I see the NWSL today.
10. Kansas City (–)
A Mariana Larroqutte GOLAZO saw KC Woso pull off a late draw with Gotham FC. Even though they’re the bottom of the table and the JWS Power Rankings, that first win is starting to feel imminent.
9. OL Reign (-1)
The Reign aren’t in a good place. Head coach Farid Benstiti stepped down, and the team then promptly lost to the Houston Dash. Hopefully a fresh face at the top will reignite that spark on what is still a wildly-talented roster.
8. Chicago Red Stars (+1)
The Red Stars got their biggest win of the season Friday, beating the Washington Spirit 1-0. This feels like the moment that gets them back on track. I’m also impressed with goalkeeper Cassie Miller — definitely one to keep an eye on.
7. Racing Louisville (–)
Louisville lost to the Thorns, but the team looks positioned to continue their impressive start during the Olympic window. They won’t lose any players and have been effective and strategic in adding pieces like Ebony Salmon.
6. Washington Spirit (-3)
The Spirit deservedly lost to Chicago and their lives don’t get any easier as they take on North Carolina next. Kelley O’Hara’s presence and tenacity was certainly missed as the Spirit struggled to really find meaningful chances.
5. Gotham FC (–)
Gotham will be frustrated to give up the late draw to KC. It’s a tie that feels like a loss as they struggled to put the game away. They play the Thorns this weekend, who have had their number all season.
4. Houston Dash (+2)
The Dash are on a roll! They’ve now won two straight and face the Red Stars this weekend. Jasmyne Spencer got the ultimate redemption with a goal against her former team just weeks after being traded. Also can we talk about that ball from Shea Groom? Fire.
3. Portland Thorns (+1)
The Thorns are the ultimate roller coaster team this regular season. This week, they were solid. Next week? Who knows. One takeaway: We’re seeing more and more that if Simone Charley is on, they win.
2. Orlando Pride (-1)
On the heels of their second straight loss, the Pride have fallen out of the top spot. The Courage would have buried them even more than the 2-0 scoreline suggests if not for a spectacular game from Ashlyn Harris. They have to hope Ali Kreiger’s injury isn’t serious as this weekend’s game against Louisville feels like a “must win” for the Pride to get back on track.
1. NC Courage (+1)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Courage are once again the best team in the league.
Even as players started to depart for the Olympics, North Carolina looked calm, collected and dominant as they went into Orlando and made it look like their home field. Havana Solaun played a really nice game in their win over the Pride in the midfield, and she looks poised to run the show without Mewis and Debhina for a couple weeks.
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