We’re three months into the NWSL season and there are surprises at both ends of the table! From intriguing squads beginning to jell to hot ass messes, this year is already delivering the parity, surprise and fun we expect.
Here’s a tidy and extremely silly categorization of every team in the league.
Last year’s bottom table club is sitting on top (I love this league). Gotham are tied with the most wins in the league (five), have a free scoring Lynn Williams (5g), and have turned the vibes meter up to a 100 million after not being able to find it at all last year.
Last year’s champions have some questions to answer in defense as they’re one of six teams to have given up double digit goals already, but they’ve also outscored the league – by a lot. The Thorns have 22 goals in eight games, seven more than the next highest scorers. In fact, it’s a record pace.
Julie Ertz is a gamechanger. Also, in recent matches, the Los Angeles club has found another gear with their intensity. If they’re able to commit to that level as a baseline, they’ll make themselves extremely unfun to play against — just in time for Sydney Leroux (and eventually Christen Press) to return and level up their attack.
The Spirit experienced what it felt like to be the cream of the crop — for a week. They were the last remaining unbeaten team until Orlando took them down 2-1. Still, the Spirit’s development is ahead of schedule and while they’re still trying to iron out kinks in their attack within the new 442 formation, it’s been a constricting nightmare for opponents. If the Spirit find ways to consistently generate chances for Trinity Rodman and Ashley Hatch, they could soar.
The Wave have been a bit weird this season but they’re still coached by Casey Stoney, one of the best in the game, and have game-changing talent on each line. They may be wobbly now, but I back Stoney to steady things.
Reign might be the surprise of the season but not the good kind. They’ve won four games but are currently on a two match losing streak and have Angel City, San Diego (Challenge Cup) and Portland to play next. Head coach Laura Harvey usually finds answers, and they might be as simple as a healthy Quinn and Rose Lavelle.
The Courage are putting a lot of new pieces together which seem to be slowly taking shape. After a rocky early start they battled to a 3-3 draw with Portland and beat OL Reign. If they continue on that trajectory as they settle
The Pride were a popular sleeper pick before the season, but after poor results to start the season, a few jumped off the bandwagon. If you held firm, you’re now being rewarded with a fun and intense team that’s figuring out an identity and how to solve problems to get results.
Basically, Savannah DeMelo is having a breakout year. She showed flashes of superstardom last season, and is following it up with some Put The Team On My Back type stuff this year. Jaelin Howell is also starting to translate her game to the professional level. While there are a few remaining questions to solve, DeMelo and Howell going off makes things much simpler.
The Red Stars are in a tough position. They not only lost three key midfielders due to free agency, they also lost one of the best players in the league, Mallory Swanson, to a knee injury while on international duty. The questions go all the way up to owner Arnim Whisler, who’s supposed to be selling the club. Instead, the club lost a ton of talent and is in limbo with a front office that’s unmotivated or unqualified to make longer term decisions.
Ain’t no reason the Houston Dash should’ve scored the fewest goals in the league. Head coach Sam Laity hasn’t come close to getting his star attackers on the same page, which is a bad thing for Houston, and affront to the soccer gods.
What do you do when you pull the ‘fire the coach’ move early in the season and things still aren’t better? That’s for Kansas City and GM Camille Ashton to figure out. They spent money and had a great offseason, but even as big names return to the lineup, results have been several bushels of yikes.
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