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Welcome to the NWSL Star Power Index -- a look at players who are generating buzz around the league. Inclusion on this list is often 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. 

1. Crystal Dunn (M) - Portland Thorns FC

When she's not knocking goals into the back of the net, she's setting her teammates up for success. The Thorns midfielder recorded an assist and scored her fifth goal of the season in the club's recent win against Chicago Red Stars. Her fifth tally officially places her in a five-way tie in an early golden boot race that includes fellow U.S. women's national team teammates Lynn Williams and Alex Morgan. Dunn has been putting up regular numbers for the club this season, and in doing so is forcing a different question ahead of the World Cup. It's no longer whether or not she will be named to a final roster at the typical left back position, but rather are her talents pigeonholed ahead of the tournament? 

U.S. women's national team coach Vlatko Andonovksi has a player who is creating chances from all over the field and could add some attacking versatility to the team this summer at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, though she regularly plays left back for the team, one boasting some incredible attacking talent. 

Even though Dunn only has one assist this season, that undersells how creative a player she's been for the Thorns. As you can see in the image below, she's created 11 chances for her teammates in the NWSL regular season and Challenge Cup combined. Nine of those have come from inside the penalty box, showing that she regularly gets into the box to create danger. For a USWNT that has struggled to create great chances at times, Dunn could be the answer in midfield that they need, and that versatility is something any coach would love to have entering the summer.

Dunn is doing well in getting the ball into dangerous spots from all over the field. Twenty3

Check out her assist in the win, showing how well, from the right, she can take on touch to set up a brilliantly played ball across the face of goal. 

2. Sofia Jakobsson (F) - San Diego Wave FC

The Swedish attacker is back in starting lineups for head coach Casey Stoney after featuring off the bench in the first quarter of the season. Her ability to find the open lane and stretch backlines has been on display during the Wave's two-game win streak on the road. She notched an assist in San Diego's most recent win over Houston Dash and aided rookie Sierra Enge on her first pro goal. Whether she's a focal point in the attack or a more collaborative piece in the final third, Jakobsson is delivering for the Wave.

Take a look at Jakobsson's pass inside the box:

3. Bruninha (D) - NJ/NY Gotham FC

Gotham's defensive shape has taken a back seat in the headlines surrounding the goal-scoring show from Lynn Williams. The backline organization can't be overlooked as the season goes on, and while we highlighted goalkeeper Abby Smith in our previous star player index, this week belongs to Brazilian international Bruninha. She's finally getting time on the pitch after joining midseason in 2022, earning consecutive starts and covering tons of ground. Her ability to play on either side of the line makes her an asset in different schemes for the team this season and is the answer to the outside back the club has been looking for since the departure of 2021 defender of the year Caprice Dydasco.

Check out her first goal in a Gotham jersey:

4. Kerolin (F) - North Carolina Courage

The Courage are showing no signs of slowing down now that they're in the upper half of the league table. The team is undefeated in their last four matches and is looking more dangerous in the final third thanks to Kerolin. She has carried the ball 138 times this season for a total of over 1900 yards, for a league-best in 2023. She's fearless on the ball, and typically successful in her take-ons, and she will only be a bigger problem for backlines as the season goes on.

5. Marta (M) - Orlando Pride

Brazilian players owned week eight in NWSL action, and there was no better example than Marta (and Adriana) in Orlando's 2-1 win against Washington Spirit. Not only did Orlando hand the Spirit their first regular season loss, but they got on the front foot with relentless play by attacker Adriana, who won a penalty kick after getting a foul inside the box. Team captain and Brazilian legend Marta stepped up to convert the penalty to give Orlando an early lead. She has scored nine career goals against the Spirit, second behind Alex Morgan (11) for most goals against Washington in the regular season. It was her first goal for the team since October 2021 and her return from an ACL injury.