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The 2023 NWSL season in review: what we thought would happen versus what really happened

We break down where we were right, and where we went wrong with our 2023 NWSL season predictions

NWSL: NWSL Championship-NJ/NY Gotham FC at OL Reign Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Way back in March, when possibility was rife in the air, AllForXI put together a roundtable of our thoughts and predictions for the 2023 NWSL season.

The season is now over and have been crowned the new NWSL Championship winners. It’s time to go back to the beginning and see where we got it right and where we got it (possibly) horribly wrong.

Who’s going to win the NWSL Shield and the NWSL Championship?

What we thought: Kansas Current and OL Reign FC were the consensus choices with the Orlando Pride and NJ/NY Gotham FC getting honorable mentions.

What actually happened: Jenna Tonelli guessed right with Gotham FC winning the NWSL Championship but no one else got the NWSL Shield winner right.

NWSL: NWSL Championship-NJ/NY Gotham FC at OL Reign Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

Who will be this season’s dark horse?

What we thought: The Houston Dash was the majority pick:

What actually happened: Kudzi Musarurwa picked Gotham FC and Theo Lloyd-Hughes picked Angel City FC. They were the closest to getting it right.

Which team won’t do as well/may end up at the bottom?

What we thought: This wasn’t an easy one as three different teams got mentioned: the Washington Spirit, the NC Courage, San Diego Wave FC

What actually happened: The Chicago Red Stars finished at the bottom of the standings when all was said and done.

Which team will be the surprise package?

What we thought: The contributors picked the Orlando Pride, Gotham FC and Angel City as the teams that would surprise us all.

What actually happened: This was a question we correctly predicted as the above three teams did end up having surprising seasons.

NWSL: Portland Thorns FC at Angel City FC Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff predictions (in no particular order)

What we thought: Kansas City, Houston Dash, OL Reign, Portland Thorns, Gotham FC and San Diego.

What actually happened: Bar Kansas City and Houston, four other teams were correctly predicted to make the playoffs (OL Reign, Portland Thorns, Gotham FC and San Diego).

Name your Coach of the Year (COTY), Rookie of the Year (ROTY), Defender of the Year (DOTY) and Most Valuable Player (MVP).

What we thought: Laura Harvey, Juan Carlos Amoros, Seb Hines and Casey Stoney were all up for the COTY award; Messiah Bright, Alyssa Thompson, Michelle Cooper were predicted to the ROTY; Sarah Gorden, Paige Monahan, Alana Cook, Lauren Barnes and Carson Pickett were picked for DOTY; and Debinha, Lynn Williams, Rose Lavelle, María Sánchez, Mal Swanson and Phallon Tullis-Joyce were selected to be MVP.

What actually happened: Juan Carlos Amoros won COTY, Jenna Nighswonger won ROTY, Naomi Girma won DOTY and Kerolin won MVP.

While making predictions is always fun, we can’t always account for injuries, in-season transfers and off-pitch issues when we do them. In some cases, we were way off but in others, we seemed to be on the right track. Despite the number of predictions we got wrong, we’re looking forward to doing this again next year when the NWSL season rolls around again. See you then!