NWSL Power Rankings: KC stays unbeaten as Marta helps Pride soar

It's Monday, 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 4. Let's dive in.

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Kansas City Current logo 1. Kansas City Current

Previous ranking: 1

Next match: Saturday vs. Bay FC, 7:30 p.m. ET

After picking up three wins from their first three games, the Current couldn't stay perfect Sunday vs. Gotham -- but a point on the road is a point on the road. In the attack, Bia Zaneratto and Temwa Chawinga continue to look unplayable in transition. The two combined for a goal in the first half, with Chawinga capitalizing on her incredible speed to break behind. There isn't a defense in the NWSL that will feel confident about locking down Kansas City for a full 90 minutes.

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North Carolina Courage logo 2. North Carolina Courage

Previous ranking: 2

Next match: Sunday at Angel City, 7:30 p.m. ET

When you're missing an MVP in the attack, you're going to struggle to create clean looks in open play at times, just as the Courage did Saturday in their win over Portland. But an early set piece goal shows that North Carolina have other ways to trouble opposing defenses. Thanks to Tyler Lussi's goal in the fifth minute, the Courage controlled the ball and the game state against Portland.

Washington Spirit logo 3. Washington Spirit

Previous ranking: 6

Next match: Saturday vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC, 1 p.m. ET

Am I still puzzled by the fact that Ashley Hatch is now a left winger for the Washington Spirit? Yes. Does that seem to be slowing them down? Nope. There's a whole lot of dynamism in the Spirit's 4-2-3-1 shape, as the Houston Dash learned Friday. Their press gave Houston trouble, as did the elite Trinity Rodman-Croix Bethune pairing. A bunch more dominoes still need to fall for the Spirit, but early signs are encouraging.

San Diego Wave logo 4. San Diego Wave FC

Previous ranking: 3

Next match: Friday at Orlando Pride, 8 p.m. ET

Keeping a clean sheet for the second game in a row, San Diego's defensive approach looks every bit as tight as it was in 2023. Manager Casey Stoney is still trying to find the ideal way to integrate Savannah McCaskill into the team while maximizing Jaedyn Shaw's talent in the attacking midfield line. That's a work in progress, as we saw against Louisville.

Gotham FC logo 5. NJ/NY Gotham FC

Previous ranking: 4

Next match: Saturday at Washington Spirit, 1 p.m. ET

To no one's surprise, things took a turn for the better in a 1-1 draw with KC when Juan Carlos Amoros added Crystal Dunn, Jenna Nighswonger, and Lynn Williams into the equation in the second half. Managing around international breaks will be a constant struggle for Gotham in 2024, but it's becoming clear just how dangerous this team can be when even close to full strength.

Seattle Reign FC logo 6. Seattle Reign FC

Previous ranking: 5

Next match: Sunday vs. Chicago Red Stars, 6 p.m. ET

Despite their poor form and a heartbreaking loss against Bay on Sunday, the underlying numbers like the Reign far more than the table. Seattle has a positive expected goal differential through four games this year and was an Alex Loera banger away from earning a point on the road.

Portland Thorns logo 7. Portland Thorns

Previous ranking: 7

Next match: Saturday vs. Houston Dash, 10 p.m. ET

Speaking of teams the data has a thing for, the Portland Thorns are dead last in the standings but get upheld here by a nice set of behind-the-scenes metrics. The attack is still such an asset that if the defense and goalkeeper can sort themselves out even a little, Portland will soar up. The early signs when the team plays against the ball, though, are horrific.

Orlando Pride logo 8. Orlando Pride

Previous ranking: 13

Next match: Friday vs. San Diego Wave, 8 p.m. ET

Still undefeated, the Pride notched their first win against a struggling Utah Royals team. Marta excelled as a super-sub, scoring her first of the season just minutes after coming onto the field. With Barbra Banda now in Orlando, expect an even more dangerous version of the Pride coming soon.

Racing Louisville logo 9. Racing Louisville FC

Previous ranking: 9

Next match: Saturday vs. Utah Royals, 5 p.m. ET

Four games, four draws for Racing Louisville in 2024. The team continues to default to more of a transition-heavy style even after Bev Yanez was appointed to the managerial role, holding 44% of the ball in a 0-0 draw with San Diego. There's midfield solidity in this team, no doubt about it. But can the attack find its groove?

Bay FC logo 10. Bay FC

Previous ranking: 10

Next match: Saturday at Kansas City Current, 7:30 p.m. ET

Sunday's victory over the Seattle Reign was a step in the right direction for Bay FC -- and not just because of the result. The expansion side outshot Seattle 23 to eight and put itself in the driver's seat for the vast majority of the match. The firepower is starting to show, even while the defensive control lags.

Angel City FC logo 11. Angel City FC

Previous ranking: 11

Next match: Sunday vs. North Carolina Courage, 7:30 p.m. ET

It wasn't a game to remember, but Angel City notched its first win of 2024 by a 1-0 scoreline in Chicago. A solid performance in the first half, where Becki Tweed's team controlled the ball and created the better chances, gave them just enough momentum to collect all three points.

Chicago Red Stars logo 12. Chicago Red Stars

Previous ranking: 8

Next match: Sunday at Seattle Reign FC, 6 p.m. ET

An own goal just minutes before halftime put the Red Stars in a permanent hole against the Angels. Playing without Mallory Swanson because of a hip issue, Chicago was never going to give us its best version of the team. Let's hope the USWNT star comes back quickly after an excellent SheBelieves Cup.

Utah Royals logo 13. Utah Royals

Previous ranking: 14

Next match: Saturday at Racing Louisville, 5 p.m. ET

It has been only four games, so we need to take the underlying numbers with a whole spoonful of salt, but the Utah Royals have the worst expected goal differential in the NWSL. They took just one shot from inside the box in their loss to Orlando and need to find another gear to avoid hanging out toward the bottom of these rankings all year.

Houston Dash logo 14. Houston Dash

Previous ranking: 12

Next match: Saturday at Portland Thorns, 10 p.m. ET

Maybe even more troubling than their 3-1 loss to Washington was the news reported by ESPN's Jeff Kassouf that Maria Sanchez has requested a trade. The Dash signed Sanchez to one of the richest deals in league history over the offseason, hoping to find some stability. Things couldn't be going much worse for Houston.