After a weekend in which 27 goals were scored across seven matches, it's clear that a handful of NWSL teams are embracing an attacking identity -- and excelling while doing so.

An offense-first mentality continues to keep the Kansas City Current atop the NWSL standings after their 5-2 win over Bay FC, making them one of three teams to score four or more goals over the weekend. The other two were the Portland Thorns and Racing Louisville, who snapped this season's last winless runs with resounding victories, but this weekend also proved that thrashing the opposition was not the only way to showcase strengths.

Take, for example, the Washington Spirit and Orlando Pride, who respectively collected victories over reigning champions NJ/NY Gotham FC and shield winners San Diego Wave over the weekend. The results were fairly narrow -- the Spirit won 2-0 in a competitive game, while the Pride notched a 1-0 victory -- but the performances demonstrated a notable effort to improve upon last year's unmemorable seasons, and became the latest example of the NWSL's continuing competitiveness.

Here are some takeaways from last weekend's results in the NWSL.

Spirit's strong start

The Spirit entered 2024 with ambitious plans, the focal point of which is the hiring of Barcelona's Jonatan Giraldez, but no timeline on their execution considering he will not be in the U.S. until the European season ends. It was hard to know what to expect from the team while they awaited his arrival, but five games into the NWSL season, it's clear they are wasting no time building a strong foundation for Giraldez to work with when he's ready.

Look no further than Saturday's win over Gotham, in which the Spirit earned the edge in a fairly even matchup. They ultimately outshot the opposition 12 to 11, putting five of their shots on target and generating 2.04 expected goals, a figure assisted by Ashley Hatch's 69th minute penalty. Talented individuals like rookie Croix Bethune, who scored the game's opening goal, and Trinity Rodman, who took five shots, stood out and exemplified the Spirit's attacking strengths. They are second in the league for expected goals and third for shots on goal percentage, while Rodman ranks within the NWSL's top 10 for shots, shots on goal, chances and expected goals.

They also seem to be laying the groundwork for Giraldez's preferred style of play in which possession and passing reign supreme, ranking fourth in the league for passing accuracy in the attacking third at 75.8%. The Spirit are in the middle of the pack in 2024 in most other possession and passing related stats, indicating there's work to do once Giraldez shows up, but it's still a vast improvement from 2023, when they were last or second-to-last in most of those categories. The ceiling on this Spirit team is still to be seen, but the attack is clearly their strong suit for the time being -- and might be worth building the team around once Giraldez shows up.

Pride's identity reveals itself

This is a big year for the Pride and head coach Seb Hines, who led the team to a midtable finish in his first full season in charge but is expected to build a team worth noting in 2024. It's still early days, but Friday's 1-0 win over the Wave feels like a first major example of the team Hines wants to build.

The Pride might have been out-possessed, but they were an attacking force on Friday, taking 20 shots, putting eight on frame and posting 3.25 expected goals. That attack-minded showing comes even though they took an early lead thanks to Summer Yates' 26th minute goal, limiting the Wave to just four shots and building upon their performances from earlier this season. The Pride rank third for shots, fourth for chances and firth for expected goals and are building a promising prowess through their passing ability, ranking second for passing accuracy in the NWSL.

It makes the Pride an exciting watch, and that's before Barbra Banda earns her first start for the team. She also might be able to help with the team's most glaring area of improvement so far -- efficiency in front of goal. The Pride are happy to rack up shots but despite that, rank 10th out of 14th for shots on goal percentage. A little more accuracy could go a long way, and could make Hines' side one of the teams to watch this season.

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Bad news for Gotham, Wave

The flip side of the attacking coin means that while some teams have succeeded in that category, others have yet to get their offensive efforts up and running. That's notably true for the teams that the Spirit and the Pride beat over the weekend -- Gotham and the Wave.

The teams that took last season's biggest trophies currently rank as the last two teams in the NWSL for goals scored, shots on goal and expected goals and are within the bottom five for shots. These statistics are in sharp contrast with last season's numbers -- Gotham ranked third in 2023 for shots, chances and expected goals, while the Wave were third for shots on goal and first for shots on goal percentage. Despite the similarities, the drop in attacking form raises different questions about each team.

For Gotham, their offensive strengths were coupled with the fact that they ranked third to last in the NWSL for goals in the 2023 regular season. It was clear the team targeted improvement in that category over the offseason, chiefly by acquiring the likes of Rose Lavelle and Crystal Dunn but it's clear that Juan Carlos Amoros has yet to find a winning attacking balance. Injuries to Lavelle and Midge Purce could be hampering Gotham's early season returns, but the fact that they have not scored more than two goals in four games this season is disappointing for a team that actually attempted a refresh in the offseason.

That's where the similarities return when it comes to the Wave, who were fairly effective in attack in 2023 but still signed players to upgrade their attack in Savannah McCaskill and new recruit Maria Sanchez. Though Gotham at least posted 11 shots against the Spirit, the fact that the Wave took just four against the Pride clearly indicates a below-par outing. Casey Stoney will also point to injuries -- Alex Morgan came off with an issue on Friday, while Jaedyn Shaw has been dealing on and off with a small injury all month. Both Gotham and the Wave, though, are teams with depth and will need to find a way to reverse course soon if they want to improve upon last season's showings.