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.
1. Sydney Leroux (F) - Orlando Pride
The veteran forward has an NWSL-best seven goals over 13 matches this regular season. The striker has been a key player in the attacking third, posting an expected goal rating of 4.78, and leading the team with 41 shots to go along with nine chances created. Leroux has also provided solid defensive shifts this year, covering lots of space against opposition and has 53 recoveries as the team heads into the second half of the season.
Syd called game 😌#CHIvORL | https://t.co/0LtSAUK1Jw | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/21SF0Uel1M— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 8, 2021
2. Bethany Balcer (F) - OL Reign
The 2019 Rookie of the Year is having a standout 2021 and added to her goal tally last weekend with a brace against the Houston Dash.
Balcer Brace™️ is becoming a regular thing 😏#RGNvHOU | https://t.co/iecT7II54a | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/QxQqFbnKer— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 8, 2021
Balcer currently has six goals through 13 appearances this season and is second in the Golden Boot race behind Leroux. She been active on offense, creating seven chances and leads forwards on the team in winning nearly 60 percent of her aerial duals. Her movement off the ball has provided midfielders more space in the final third, and her ability to finish in the air and on the ground makes her a threat.
3. Simone Charley (F) - Portland Thorns FC
The forward is in her third year with Portland and was a key part of the the Thorns attack during the Olympic portion of the schedule. Charley is second among the club's attackers with 10 chances created, and is tied with Sophia Smith for most goals on the team with four. She recently recorded the game-winning goal against the Washington Spirit.
Brilliant ball, even better finish ⚽️💥#WASvPOR | https://t.co/0LtSAUK1Jw | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/IYF3Yfg3UX— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 8, 2021
4. Nadia Nadim (F) - Racing Louisville FC
The 33-year-old forward was signed midseason and has already made an impact in three appearances. After just a few matches, Nadim has created eight chances and recorded 10 total shots. She was credited with the game-wining goal against Kansas City NWSL.
Nodding that home in style 🦖#LOUvKC | https://t.co/0LtSAUK1Jw | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/TGWcVqhdzQ— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 8, 2021
5. Meredith Speck (M) - North Carolina Courage
The midfielder has made eight appearances this year, getting starts more consecutive starts with the team over the Olympic stretch of the schedule as the Courage were missing key midfielders on international duty. Speck elevated her game over the last few weeks, recording an assist against Orlando and then scoring the deciding goal against Gotham FC last week.
The visitors strike through @meredithspeck25 💥#NJNYvNC | https://t.co/0LtSAUK1Jw | #NWSL21 pic.twitter.com/kHf1ty7ENH— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 7, 2021