New NWSL season: Ten stars to watch

Edwin  - CEO March 13, 2024
Updated 2024/03/14 at 2:24 AM
16 Min Read
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 As the kick-off for the 2024 National Women’s Soccer League season approaches


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This weekend marks the 2024 National Women’s Soccer League season kick-off, Courtney Hill reports for


In the build-up, there has been a flurry of transfer activity across the now 14 clubs, with Utah Royals and Bay FC – this year’s newcomers, or returnees in the case of the former – building rosters from scratch.


While Bay FC smashed the transfer record for a female player with Racheal Kundananji’s signature, the Royals bagged no.1 draft pick Ally Sentnor.


Ahead of what promises to be an intriguing NWSL season, is reviewing ten stars to watch for the 2024 edition of the competition.


From big names to newcomers and potential injury comebacks, these are just a handful of the plethora of talent on show in North America.


Picture by Getty Images HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND – JULY 31: Racheal Kundananji of Zambia scores her team’s third goal during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group C match between Costa Rica and Zambia at Waikato Stadium on July 31, 2023, in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Buda Mendes/ Getty Images)/


Racheal Kundananji (Bay FC)

Tipped to be a player who can turn the NWSL on its head this season, Racheal Kundananji comes to the league as the world’s most expensive women’s player. Despite being just 23, she relishes showing people exactly why Bay FC smashed the transfer record for her signature. “There is so much pressure on me, but I just have to calm down, focus on my work, and continue playing football,” she told The Guardian.


Barbra Banda (Orlando Pride)

Kundananji’s Zambian teammate Barbra Banda will join her in the NWSL, with the 23-year-old headed to Orlando Pride. The Pride missed out on the playoffs last term due to their inferior goal difference, but they have addressed that problem by adding Banda to their ranks—a player known for being prolific in front of goal. If she can find her form in North America, a playoff spot could have their name written all over it.


Ally Sentnor (Utah Royals)

As the no.1 pick in the NWSL draft, the hopes are high for Ally Sentnor’s debut season as she transitions from college to professional. Since 2014, every first-round pick has gone on to represent the USWNT on the world stage, which indicates her career’s promise. Sentnor joins the likes of Alyssa Thompson, Naomi Girma, Emily Fox, and Sophia Smith as recent No.1 picks – and will hope to emulate the steps taken by those who went before her as the Utah Royals make a return to the NWSL.


Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave)

Alex Morgan found a new lease of life when she moved to her home state of California to work under San Diego boss Casey Stoney. The now 34-year-old USA striker struck the form of her career in her inaugural 2022 season, netting 16 goals and registering three assists. A seven-goal, five-assist campaign would follow, with Morgan proving she can still compete at the top as she helped the Wave to the shield last term, eyeing the Championship in 2024.


Asisat Oshoala (Bay FC)

Bay FC made a statement with their signings, adding several quality and experienced players, with Asisat Oshoala among the biggest to join their ranks. She signed after five seasons with European football giants FC Barcelona, scoring 107 goals in 149 appearances and helping the sire to two European Champions League titles and four Spanish league titles. Oshoala is undoubtedly one of the biggest names now playing in the league and will be on the radar of many spectators ahead of Bay FC’s first-ever season.


Picture by 2022 Getty Images LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 15: Ji So-Yun of Chelsea celebrates with the Vitality Women’s FA Cup trophy after their side’s victory during the Vitality Women’s FA Cup Final match between Chelsea Women and Manchester City Women at Wembley Stadium on May 15, 2022, in London, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)/


Ji So-yun (Seattle Reign)

With the retirement of Megan Rapinoe at the end of the 2023 campaign, Seattle Reign needed a star name to fill the gap – and they’ve found one in the form of Ji So-yun. Her resume speaks for itself, with over 200 appearances for Chelsea in the English Women’s Super League. After returning to her homeland, it seemed the 33-year-old could be gearing towards eventual retirement, but has now returned to the top level to compete in one of the toughest leagues in the world.


Christen Press (Angel City FC)

Since June 2022, this year could mark the comeback of Angel City forward Christen Press. An ACL injury was the catalyst for her time on the sidelines, but four subsequent surgeries have caused her to be out for almost two years. As Press steps up her recovery and moves towards returning to the pitch, many fans will hope to see the 35-year-old back in her element, with a ball at her feet, at some stage in the upcoming campaign.


Jaedyn Shaw (San Diego Wave)

19-year-old Jaedyn Shaw is a force to be reckoned with. In her first campaign with the San Diego Wave, she bagged six goals and three assists as they went on to win the NWSL shield. She will be coming into the 2024 season after the CONCACAF W Gold Cup triumph with the USWNT, in which she won the Golden Boot. Working under Casey Stoney’s guidance while working alongside the great Alex Morgan will no doubt be influential for the teenager, whose potential is limitless.


Picture by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images Jaedyn Shaw celebrates after scoring a goal in the first half against Canada during the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup/

Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns)

Since being the No.1 draft pick in 2020, Sophia Smith has become one of the USA’s most exciting attackers. The 23-year-old’s introduction to the NWSL came in 2021, but it would be 2022 when she really hit the ground running, with 15 goals and three assists in 20 games as the Portland Thorns won the Championship title. Last term, 11 goals were enough to see her awarded the Golden Boot as the league’s top scorer.


Kerolin (North Carolina Courage)

There is an outside chance that Kerolin could return to action for the 2024 campaign. The Brazilian was ruled out of action last October when she tore her ACL, facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after having a standout campaign for the Courage, registering 13 goals in 19 appearances. With such a long recovery time expected for this knee injury, it is hard to imagine Kerolin will return soon. She could, however, be a potential option to help NCC in the playoffs should they make it there.


2024 NWSL Season: Preview, schedule, and how to watch top women’s action from North America



The NWSL season is back, with two more sides joining the mix, and some of the world’s biggest stars return to our screens. Here are the key things to know ahead of another big season.


The National Women’s’ Soccer League returns to screens this weekend as the 2024 campaign begins.


Plenty of the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) stars will be in action, fresh from the USA’s CONCACAF W Gold Cup success on Sunday (March 10).


Action kicks off with the NWSL Challenge Cup on Friday (March 15) before a weekend of regular season fixtures starts on Saturday (March 16).


While the start of the North American season marks an inaugural campaign for expansion team Bay FC, it will also welcome the return of the Utah Royals, who ceased operations in 2020. Reestablished in 2023, they will compete in the NWSL for the first time in four years.


Last year saw one of the league’s most miraculous turnarounds as NJ/NY Gotham won the Championship, just one year after finishing dead last in the 2022 edition with a staggering 17 losses to their name.


Just about securing a spot in the playoffs on goal differential, they went on to beat North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns before besting Seattle Reign in the final.


After finishing their first-ever season in third, the San Diego Wave followed that up by storming to the top of the table, where they clinched the NWSL shield.


The West Coast outfit joined Gotham, Courage, Thorns, and Reign in the playoffs, with Angel City also narrowly making it into the top six.


With big transfers and two more teams entering the mix, the 2024 campaign is set to be an unmissable footballing feast when things kick off on Saturday (March 16).


Here’s’ your guide to the new season.


National Women’s’ Soccer League 2024: Preview


The NJ/NY Gotham will undoubtedly be the key team to watch this season, particularly as reigning Champions. But the key question is: Given such a dramatic turnaround in the space of just one season, is their success sustainable?


It might well be if their transfer window is anything to go by. As well as holding on to key players, Gotham has stacked their roster with four USWNT starts. Emily Sonnett and Tierna Davidson bolster the back line, while Rose Lavelle is a crucial acquisition in the middle of the park. If a front line of Lynn Williams, Esther González, and Midge Purce wasn’t’ already electric enough, they’ve also added Crystal Dunn to the mix. This is up there in terms of a transfer window to add to your championship-winning squad.


But with all that investment comes pressure.


They’re not the only squad that has invested heavily in their team in the off-season.


Next up on our teams to watch is the San Diego Wave. Casey Stoney’s side seems to be getting better and getting closer to that elusive Championship title. In their first season, the 2022 campaign, they finished third in the league and reached the semi-finals of the playoffs only to be beaten by eventual winners Portland Thorns. So close, yet so far.


The Wave followed up their inaugural campaign by storming to the NWSL Shield and finishing top of the league. The overall title, however, would evade them once more as they were bested by eventual finalists Seattle Reign. Stoney has tapped into the ideal balance of experience with Alex Morgan leading the line alongside 19-year-old Jaedyn Shaw. The Championship title could be their next stop in the upcoming season if the club’s trajectory is anything to go by.


SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 11: NJ/NY Gotham FC lift the NWSL Championship trophy following the 2023 NWSL Championship against the OL Reign at Snapdragon Stadium on November 11, 2023 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)/


NWSL 2024: Schedule and how to watch


The opening weekend of the NWSL will kick off with the Challenge Cup between Gotham and Wave on the evening of Friday, March 15, before the Kansas City Current and the Portland Thorns star in the regular season curtain-raiser on March 16.


The league will take a break in July/August during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.


Each team plays 26 regular season games.


The final game of the regular season will take place at the Snapdragon Stadium in California when San Diego Wave hosts Racing Louisville.


The Playoff quarter-finals will take place on 9/10 November. Semi-finals are scheduled for 16/17 November, and the Championship game will occur on November 23.


You can find the full league schedule – and information on how to buy tickets – by clicking on this link here.


Blockbuster broadcast deals announced after last season mean there are more ways than ever to watch the NWSL. Games will be packaged between:


  • Prime Video
  • ION Network
  • CBS
  • Paramount+
  • ESPN
  • NWSL+


NWSL+ is the league’s first-ever streaming platform accessible to fans across the United States.


International viewers can watch games live on the NWSL website.


More information on broadcasters can be found here.


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