Welcome to the NWSL Star Power Index -- a weekly gauge of the players who are generating buzz around the league. Inclusion on this list is often a a good thing but it doesn't have to be. Buzz comes in all sorts of different flavors and simply means that they're capturing the NWSL world's attention for one reason or another. Also, this is not a ranking. The players listed are in no particular order, they're just all driving the conversation in their own ways, and we believe are poised to have an impact for their teams during the Olympic stretch
1. Andi Sullivan (Midfield) -- Washington Spirit
Washington Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan has been impressive for her team in the first phase of their season, earning eight appearances, all of them starts, for the club. One of three U.S. allocated players on the Washington Spirit (meaning she's part of the U.S. women's national team setup), Sullivan missed out on the current Olympic roster, but is putting in consistent performances week in and week out.
A calming pretense in the mingled and team captain, Sullivan is second for most touches on the team, behind only center back Samantha Staab, and leads in total recoveries among midfielders on the team with 54. She has two assists, with the latest coming against North Carolina Courage off an interception that led to a run from deep in her own defensive half. Her efforts on and off the ball could help the Spirit pick up massive points during this Olympic stretch of games in the schedule.
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2. DiDi Haracic (GK) -- NJ/NY Gotham FC
The Bosnian international has been massive for the club this year, slotting in for Canadian International and starting goal keeper Kalien Sheridan. Haracic's impressive run stems back into the 2021 Challenge Cup, where she led the team to a penalty kick shoot in the final, and her strong form has extended into the regular season. Now with three starts for Gotham FC during the regular season, Haracic has two clean sheets, and with a solid defense in place more could be on the way. Despite the limited minutes, Haracic is fifth in the league in goals prevented (a measure of the difference between the expected goals on target a keeper has faced and the goals they've conceded) with 2.52, a figure which translates to just over a goal prevented per 90 minutes. If Haracic keeps her form up this way over the Olympic stretch, she could make a case for herself as a starting keeper for two new expansion teams on the horizon.
3. Morgan Weaver (Forward) -- Portland Thorns FC
The second year Thorns forward is likely to get more consistent starts over this summer stretch of games. Weaver has six starts and nine total appearance in the regular season with two assists. She hasn't broken through on goal for the team yet, but that is likely to happen in the near future. Her xG is at 2.89, tied for second on the club, alongside team captain and all time International scorer Christine Sinclair and behind Simone Charley.
4. Kayla Sharples (Defense) -- Chicago Red Stars
Sharples is in her third year with her hometown club and has earned seven starts and eight total appearances during the 2021 regular season. The Red Stars are missing key starters along their backline to the Olympic games with Tierna Davidson and Casey Krueger off in Tokyo with the USWNT. The Northwestern alum currently leads the Red Stars in interceptions with 17 and is an extremely efficient defender, with 71.4 percent of duels won, the highest percentage on the team. Her 5'10 frame isn't just an asset on the defensive side of the ball. Sharples has already been involved in two of three recent Chicago chaotic offensive sequences that have lead to own goals by the opposition.