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Stars, futures, X-factors: Team-by-team players to watch for the 2023 NWSL season

Graphic by Bella Munson

The National Women’s Soccer League is, more than ever, the players’ league.

Players have taken ownership of that through reformative actions and a historic first collective bargaining agreement that was ratified last year, but even before the scandals of yesteryear came to light, teams and fandom was driven by players.

Blockbuster trades are the evergreen chaos of the NWSL offseason, sending players to new locales and shaking up the power structure of leagues. Other than the Portland Thorns, who won the inaugural NWSL Championship in 2013, won a third title last year, and are omnipresent playoff contenders, the league’s ‘dynasties’ have all come in spurts of a few years.

With all that in mind, and especially with the (unnecessarily) secretive nature of NWSL information, this preview focuses on the players to watch this season rather than guessing hazardously at some of the wider tactical trends or lineups teams might roll out. Don’t worry, there are plenty of team perspectives sprinkled throughout.

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