Chop Soccer’s big NWSL Preseason 2023 Rankings

The start of the regular season is a few weeks away and here are your team rankings at the end of the NWSL Preseason 2023. Fans may watch NWSL matches this season on Paramount+ and across other CBS sports platforms starting on March 25, when the regular season is set to start.

NWSL Preseason 2023 Top Teams

Kansas City

Last season this team nearly missed having an amazing turnaround as it finished its campaign as runners-up in the 2022 NWSL Championship after finishing bottom of the league in 2021. When the team underwhelmed in the finals the front office moved rapidly to improve by landing three highly sought-after free agent targets in Morgan Gautrat, Vanessa DiBernardo, and Debinha.

They also re-signed crucial players Alex Loera, Kate Del Fava, and Hailie Mace giving them the deepest roster in the league on paper. With a stadium that the franchise controls on the way and a quality front office, Kansas City is gearing up to take over as the top team in the league.


Former manager Rhian Wilkinson is replaced as head coach by Mike Norris as the franchise as a whole is dedicated to maintaining continuity, for good or for bad. The Thorns’ roster for the 2022 NWSL Championship will be almost entirely unchanged when the regular season begins and in an effort to win another championship the team re-signed longtime captain Christine Sinclair.

They also have Sophia Smith, the reigning league MVP, who is looking to build on her stellar 2022 season and Crystal Dunn returning to form after missing most of last season on maternity leave. Portland has always been a top team in the league and this year will be a litmus test on if that dominance will continue with this group or if they will have to start rebuilding around Sophia Smith.


After making its first-ever postseason appearance in franchise history, the team appointed Sam Laity as its new head coach with the goal of improving this young squad. With new contracts for Allysha Chapman and Sophie Schmidt, they were able to keep hold of important free agents, and many of the players from their run to the quarterfinals are back.

There are big ifs around Diana Ordonez being able to repeat her record-breaking goal-scoring from her debut season, but if she can she might elevate the squad to the next level.

San Diego

After a remarkable debut season finished with a playoff semifinal berth, Wave FC made some strategic offseason changes. Much of the original team was kept by the head coach Casey Stoney and general manager Molly Downtain but they also signed some key positional players through free agency. Danielle Colaprico provided a significant boost to the midfield, but the Wave’s upward success will depend on their promising prospect Jayden Shaw scoring more goals in her sophomore campaign.

NWSL Preseason 2023 Playoff Contenders

OL Reign

The 2022 NWSL Shield winners’ season came to an end in the playoff semifinals after a disappointing but not surprising loss. Leading up to the 2023 season, head coach Laura Harvey made a few small adjustments to her roster that hasn’t seen a lot of changes for the past few seasons. The veteran re-signings of Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Barnes were expected moves, but the arrivals of Emily Sonnett, Elyse Bennett, and Luany in midfield might give the club a fresh spark as their cycle with this core group of players starts to end.


The 2021 NWSL Champions completely fell off the radar and had a difficult 2022 campaign. The squad managed to put together just enough performances to stay out of last place but they might not have done enough in the offseason to qualify for the playoffs again this year. Mark Parsons, a former NWSL champion and their new head coach, has to convince the core group of players to adopt his strategies during his second run with the team.

Trinity Rodman and Ashley Sanchez were once considered the most dangerous combo in the league, but this season will be crucial to determining if 2021 was just lightning in a bottle.


After signing Juan Carlos Amoros as head coach, Gotham made some roster changes that leaned heavily on veteran experience while the rest of the league is clearly getting younger. They re-signed Ifeoma Onumonu, Taylor Smith and acquired free agent goalie Abby Smith. Moreover, they added Yazmeen Ryan, and in perhaps the most notable offseason move, they traded for USWNT attacker Lynn Williams during the draft, increasing pressure on the team following their last-place finish in 2022.

This is a pivotable year for the New York franchise because they are dangerously close to becoming the Knicks of the NWSL, never reaching their major market potential but brand giants.

Angel City

Angel City made some modest improvements during the offseason but there are still a lot of question marks. The inaugural free agency period was a failure but they managed to add Katie Johnson to the squad which at least means the franchise didn’t come up empty handed. #1 pick Alyssa Thompson is a promising young player for the future but it’s a serious roll of the dice to bet on numerous players (Christen Press, Sydney Leroux, Sarah Gorden, etc.) having breakout seasons following serious injuries.

This is another franchise that is a top league brand but an underwhelming on field product. This franchise has positioned itself as the Hollywood team of the NWSL but like the Paris St. Germain men’s team, they might have too much sizzle and not enough steak.

NWSL Preseason 2023 Question Marks


The team lost all of its starting midfielders in free agency, which was the one of the biggest exodus for the league during NWSL Preseason 2023. By signing Brazilian international Julia Binachi and veteran Cari Roccaro, they attempted to stop the bleed and reset a team that has maintained a pretty stable roster the past few seasons. Mallory Swanson has had two straight MVP-caliber seasons and is in outstanding form for the national team, but a lot of the teams’ success will rest on how their new midfield players perform. and if they can put her in position to score goals.


Seb Hines became head coach of the Pride after the squad went on an unbeaten run under his interim leadership. The team selected some talented young players in the draft and have looked good in NWSL Preseason 2023, but the success of the team may depend on how players recover from injuries. Brazilian icon Marta is expected to return after tearing her ACL, and Vivanna Villacorta is still working to strengthen her ankle after undergoing season-ending ligament surgery last year.


Since he joined the team in 2022, head coach Kim Björkegren has depended on international quality to build out the team and that didn’t change in NWSL Preseason 2023. Uchenna Kanu is their newest international gem and joins the league following a good run with Tigres Femenil. The burden of international windows in a World Cup year will be felt by most clubs, but Louisville might be severely hit given their roster composition. A break in the regular season will be beneficial, but Bjorkegren’s ability to formulate effective strategies will be heavily dependent on how all the new components fit together.

North Carolina

With moving club captain Abby Erceg and losing Debinha to free agency, the squad effectively put an end to an entire era during NWSL Preseason 2023. Carson Pickett and Merritt Methias were both traded away from the roster, however they were replaced by USWNT defenders Emily Fox, Estelle Johnson, and Tyler Lussi. A lot of questions surround this team heading into the regular season. They could be one to watch or they could be bottom of the barrel.

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