While I didn’t pick Portland to win the NWSL Championship this year, there’s no denying that the Thorns belong at the top of any preseason power rankings after winning the Challenge Cup in (mostly) dominant fashion.
Here’s how I see the rest of the league going into opening weekend:
1. Portland Thorns
The Challenge Cup champions were dominant both during and after the FIFA window. There’s no other way to put it: Portland is the team to beat this season.
2. Houston Dash
They’re far better at full force and need to win games early and often when the whole team is there ahead of the Olympics break.
3. OL Reign
I originally had the Reign in 6th… and then yesterday happened.
4. Gotham FC
Fresh off a rebrand and a noble Challenge Cup Finals showing, Gotham is a legitimate finals contender.
5. North Carolina Courage
If North Carolina can sort their defensive woes, they’ll move up this list. They’ll do so pretty quickly if a certain defensive midfielder returns to the squad.
6. Orlando Pride
This is the best the Pride have looked since 2017. That’s a sincere compliment!
7. Washington Spirit
The Spirit again look… steady? They aren’t the flashiest bunch up top, but they don’t give up much either at the back.
8. Chicago Red Stars
Their best performance of the Challenge Cup was a 3-2 loss to OL Reign. They need to find consistency in their scoring and learn to survive without their plethora of USWNT stars, especially in an Olympics year.
9. Kansas City
Amy Rodriguez needs some support up top. She may not get it right away as Kansas faces a fairly major rebuild in a new(ish) market.
10. Racing Louisville
The expansion side fights every game and clearly has some gems on their roster, they just need more time to build cohesion and grow as a team. It’s not fun being at the bottom of any ranking, but fans are right to be excited about the potential of this squad.
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