Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By CAITLIN MURRAY
And the jostling toward the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs seems to be revving up.
The Portland Thorns are finally looking poised to defend their title as they continue their climb in the rankings while FC Kansas City skyrockets up both the league table and SBI’s power rankings after two important wins.
Meanwhile, the Dash look to be in trouble after a lopsided blowout and join two struggling sides, the Boston Breakers and Sky Blue FC, who are fighting to get out of their own ruts.
Here are the SBI NWSL Power Rankings this week:
SBI NWSL Power Rankings (Week 4)
1. (Last week- 1) SEATTLE REIGN FC (5-0-0)
OUTLOOK- Still perfect. Still dominating. Enough said (for now).
2. (Last week- 4) PORTLAND THORNS FC (2-0-2)
OUTLOOK- The Portland Thorns could still be playing under their potential, but they seem to be finding their groove and growing in confidence. They can still improve their finishing in the final third, but their cohesiveness is far better than when they opened 2014. When it comes down to it, they are playing better and better while many teams are stalling or struggling to find their footing, regardless of potential. Teams may again start to fear going up against this talented Thorns roster, even without still-injured Alex Morgan.
3. (Last week- 2) WASHINGTON SPIRIT (2-3-0)
OUTLOOK- Washington is still the only team to have scored on the Seattle Reign. When the Reign roster reads like an all-star team roster, the Spirit earn some credit for being the one team to give Seattle any real trouble. But Washington needs to be more consistent and show up against lesser opponents if they want to cling onto a playoff spot as the season continues. With more consistency, which they need to find sooner rather than later, Spirit still look like a team that could be in for a strong 2014 season.
4. (Last week- 7) FC KANSAS CITY (2-3-1)
OUTLOOK- What a difference a week makes. The FC Kansas City we knew from 2013 may be back after two wins this week (including a thrashing of Houston) that shot the Blues up from the bottom of the table to third place. But even better, Kansas City didn’t rely on Amy Rodriguez, as they have seemed to all season so far; instead Erika Tymrak, Frances Silva and Liz Bogus all got in on the action. But it’s a ranking with cautious optimism, as a red card is what propelled the Blues past Houston and Kansas City still needs to be consistent in finishing games.
5. (Last week- 6) WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH (2-1-1)
OUTLOOK- Even with team leader Abby Wambach back, the Western New York Flash still couldn’t stave off the Thorns at home. And they still don’t have suspended Carli Lloyd for another week. Western New York didn’t really hit their stride until mid last season, so they are probably hoping this season is just a similar story. But their fortunes did start to turn around last year once Lloyd joined late from injury, so they will need to make sure she’s on her best behavior.
6. (Last week- 9) SKY BLUE FC (1-2-3)
OUTLOOK- Sky Blue is still a team that is struggling to find itself as it looks different from week to week. They lost a tough battle to the best team in the league (the Reign), but then barely beat one of the worst teams in the league (the Breakers). Week 4 wasn’t very illuminating, except to show that Sky Blue still hasn’t figured things out, even as they seem to make small improvements along the way.
7. (Last week- 5) CHICAGO RED STARS (1-2-1)
OUTLOOK- Chicago has no consistent goal-scoring threats, which is a problem when winning requires that you score more goals than your opponent. Chicago has only scored one goal in three matches and they need to start putting the ball in the back of the net if they hope to make the playoffs this season. Since Ella Masar left, no one has looked to belong in that target forward role and they desperately need someone.
8. (Last week- 3) HOUSTON DASH (1-3-0)
OUTLOOK- Whatever the Dash have going for them cannot possibly make up for an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Kansas City. It’s hard to decide which part of that performance is worse, conceding four goals or scoring none. The red card was an unfortunate break for the Dash, but no excuse for falling apart. The Dash had in prior weeks looked on the cusp of their breakthrough, but now it looks like the floor has fallen beneath them.
9. (Last week- 8) BOSTON BREAKERS (1-3-0)
OUTLOOK- The good news for Boston is that they only let Sky Blue score one goal in their game this week. The bad news is that nine goals in four games and a goal conceded in every game so far this season still signals fundamental issues with their back line. Against a Sky Blue team that has struggled with scoring, the Breakers shouldn’t take too much relief in conceding just one.
What do you think of this week’s power rankings? Is there a team that should be higher? Would you rank a team lower?
Share your thoughts below.