NWSL: Pride earn bragging rights with win in Kansas City

It’s Monday, and another week of NWSL action is in the books, which means it’s time for ESPN’s Power Rankings.

Our rankings are derived from a combination of key season statistics (points per game, goal differential, expected goal differential), recent performance, the Opta computer ratings and the observations of our writers.

Who’s climbing the table? Who’s in free fall? Our writers and statistical models have ranked all 14 clubs in the league after Matchday 16. Let’s dive in.

Previous ranking: 2

Next match: Aug. 23 at Houston Dash, 8 p.m. ET

The Pride could have been shaken by Carrie Lawrence’s 42nd-minute red card in Kansas City, but instead they shone while playing with 10, defeating the Current in the most anticipated match of the season. Seb Hines put on a masterclass down a player, orchestrating a defense that shut down the league’s best attack. With an NWSL record 17-match unbeaten streak, there is no doubt who is the class of the league heading into the Olympic break.

Previous ranking: 1

Next match: Aug. 25 at Washington Spirit, 12 p.m. ET

The Current got to play 48 minutes up a player against the Pride and somehow still came away with their first loss of the season. AD Franch’s struggles continued as she conceded the penalty for the winning goal and KC looked devoid of ideas for much of the second half, pumping aimless crosses into the box almost any time they got on the ball. It was shocking to see from the league’s best attack and probably a one-off that can be solved with better health, but the problems in goal cannot be waved away.

Previous ranking: 3

Next match: Aug. 25 vs. Kansas City Current, 12 p.m. ET

Croix Bethune and Hal Hershfelt have rightfully taken the spotlight this season in D.C., but it was the Spirit’s third first-round pick, Makenna Morris, who was the star in a 3-0 win over Bay on Saturday. Morris scored her first goal, picked up her first assist and drew a penalty as the Spirit’s cup of phenomenal rookies floweth over.

Previous ranking: 4

Next match: Aug. 24 vs. Portland Thorns, 2 p.m. ET

Gotham rolled in LA 2-0 to keep their terrific run of form going. They’ve lost just once in their last 12 and once again got contributions from all over. This past week it was Delanie Sheehan putting in a particularly great shift to support the stars, and she had a goal to boot. This team may be in fourth place, but it is giving us every reason to believe it’ll be going toe-to-toe with the top teams later this season.

Previous ranking: 6

Next match: Aug. 25 at Seattle Reign FC, 10 p.m. ET

Sean Nahas made three half-time subs and it paid off as the Courage turned a 1-0 deficit at the break into a 3-1 win over Louisville. Ashley Sanchez and Manaka Matsukubo both found the back of the net, but it was Olivia Wingate who stole the show as she celebrated her return from injury with a goal in her season debut. Nobody will want to see the Courage come playoff time with the way they are growing, getting healthier and unbeatable at home.

Previous ranking: 5

Next match: Aug. 24 at NJ/NY Gotham FC, 2 p.m. ET

The Thorns left it until late, but Izzy D’Aquila’s 85th-minute goal earned them a well-deserved win over San Diego. The attack that had gone quiet in recent weeks looked bright and they could have easily had two or three goals, with Janine Beckie in particular finding herself open in front of goal repeatedly. Jessie Fleming was terrific in the center of the pitch and if that continues then the Thorns are going to be a dangerous team in the fall.

Previous ranking: 7

Next match: Aug. 24 at Racing Louisville, 7:30 p.m. ET

One Mallory Swanson strike is all it took for Chicago to down Houston 1-0. Swanson has always been good with both feet, but her left foot has been especially dangerous this season as she has added yet another weapon to her already well-stocked arsenal. That left foot delivered the Red Stars this win as the one-woman wrecking crew claimed all three points.

Previous ranking: 8

Next match: Aug. 23 at Utah Royals FC, 9:30 p.m. ET

The good vibes from Bay’s back-to-back wins stood no chance against the mighty Spirit on Saturday. Bay were on the back foot from the start and two goals down by the 21st minute. The press picked up as the match went on and they started to look a little better, but it was too late. Still, the expansion team is holding a playoff place after 16 matches, so it has to feel good about the way things are going in San Jose.

Previous ranking: 9

Next match: Aug. 24 vs. Chicago Red Stars, 7:30 p.m. ET

Racing are limping into the Olympic break after losing to the Courage 3-1. They have taken just one point from their last five matches and now sit outside of the playoff places, but Reilyn Turner remains a bright spot. She scored Louisville’s lone goal to continue her nice rookie campaign.

Previous ranking: 12

Next match: Aug. 24 at San Diego Wave, 4 p.m. ET

The midfield let ACFC down yet again as they fell to Gotham 2-1. They head into the Olympic break on a three-match losing streak, but only three points back of the final playoff spot, so they’ll have plenty to play for when they return to NWSL action.

Previous ranking: 11

Next match: Aug. 23 vs. Orlando Pride, 8 p.m. ET

The Dash fell in Chicago 1-0 and extended their scoreless streak to 462 minutes. They hardly created any chances yet again, and there have been few signs that they are on the verge of turning things around. Hopefully, Houston uses these next few weeks to make some changes that can get things going in the right direction or they will be looking at another season without a playoff berth.

Previous ranking: 10

Next match: Aug. 24 vs. Angel City FC, 4 p.m. ET

It was a bad, no good, terrible week for the Wave and it culminated with a 1-0 loss in Portland that extended their winless streak to nine games. The Olympic break could not have come at a better team for San Diego, who have a lot to figure out in the office, in the dugout, and on the pitch.

Previous ranking: 13

Next match: Aug. 25 vs. North Carolina Courage, 10 p.m. ET

The Reign played Utah to a 1-1 draw thanks to a Veronica Latsko goal. They are now undefeated in their last four matches, but also winless in their past nine. So, are things looking up in Seattle or not?

Previous ranking: 14

Next match: Aug. 23 vs. Bay FC, 9:30 p.m. ET

Ally Sentnor scored to earn the Royals a point in their first match since firing Amy Rodriguez. The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft continues to be a bright spot in an otherwise difficult season for Utah and help is on her way with new signing Mina Tanaka coming. She should lift Sentnor and the Royals when she makes her NWSL debut.

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