Orlando Pride’s Barbra Banda is showing her high value to NWSL

May saw Zambia star Barbra Banda fully introduce herself to the NWSL, comfortably clinching top spot in our Power Rankings after her stellar goalscoring record for Orlando Pride.

Meanwhile, Nigeria‘s Rasheedat Ajibade was hugely influential for Atlético Madrid as they moved within an inch of UEFA Women’s Champions League qualification

And Malawi’s Chawinga sisters had impactful moments once again in the NWSL and France, while South Africa‘s Jermaine Seoposenwe had an impressive month in Mexico.

1. Barbra Banda, Orlando Pride

Banda had already got her time in the NWSL off to an impressive start before her May heroics, but she took her impact to a new level over the past month with seven goals in five games, including three braces.

Those came in wins over North Carolina Courage, Seattle Reign and Portland Thorns. While the North Carolina Courage game was a comfortable 4-1 win, Banda’s braces were directly decisive in the victories over Seattle (3-2) and Portland (2-1) in the Pride’s last two games of May.

Earlier in the month, Banda scored the winner against Racing Louisville in the 17th minute with the only goal of the game. Her efforts have played a large role in the Pride leading the NWSL standings heading into the June international

2. Rasheedat Ajibade, Atlético Madrid

Ajibade has stepped up at a crucial point in Atléti’s season as they look to wrap up third place and qualification for the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Perhaps her defining performance of the season came on May 11 in the derby against Real Madrid as she scored to put Atléti 2-1 up and then assisted Vilde Bøe Risa for a 76th minute goal to make it 3-2, which ultimately proved to be the winner.

Ajibade also scored in the 3-1 win over Levante Las Planas as Atléti ensured that they head into the last two games of their season in pole position, three points clear of Levante UD in the race for third place.

3. Jermaine Seoposenwe, Monterrey

Banyana Banyana’s Seoposenwe scored twice for Monterrey in May – the winner in the 1-0 victory over UNAM and again in the final of the Clausura against Club America, which Monterrey won on penalties after a 2-2 aggregate draw.

They were 1-0 down in the game and 2-0 down on aggregate when Seoposenwe controlled a cross on the edge of the six-yard area and smashed the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs and into the net.

Monterrey went on to equalise on aggregate in stoppage time at the end of the game and force a penalty shootout, which they won. Without Seoposenwe’s contributions, it would not have been possible.

4. Christy UcheibeBenfica

Seoposenwe was not the only African player who secured silverware in May. Ucheibe, the engine of the Super Falcons side on many occasions, picked up a quadruple at club level with Benfica.

They clinched the Portuguese Cup with a 4-1 win over Racing Power, stating loud and clear that the UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-finalists are still the team best placed to represent Portuguese women’s football. Ucheibe, who is contracted to the club until 2026, has been a central part of their season once again.

5. Tabitha ChawingaParis Saint-Germain

The elder Chawinga sister capped off a fine season for PSG with a goal in the final of the French Division 1 Féminine against Olympique Lyon. Unfortunately for PSG, it was too little, too late, as the match ended in a 2-1 defeat.

Chawinga was the shining light in an overall disappointing season for her club and she claimed the Division 1 top scorers’ prize with 19 goals in 21 appearances, seven strikes clear of Lyon’s Ada Hegerberg.

6. Temwa ChawingaKansas City Current

While Tabitha Chawinga spent the season at PSG on loan from Wuhan Jiangda, Temwa left the same Chinese club to sign on a permanent basis for Kansas City Current.

She immediately took the NWSL by storm with superb goalscoring form in March and April. While May was not quite as prolific for the younger Chawinga, she managed to score against Houston Dash to preserve a point in a 1-1 draw.

She now has five goals in 11 NWSL appearances and is three behind Sophia Smith and Banda in the race for the top scorers’ prize.

7. Michelle Alozie, Houston Dash

The versatile Alozie contributed an assist in the Dash’s last game of the month as they beat North Carolina Courage 3-0.

Alozie, who possesses the ability to contribute at both ends of the pitch, has been deployed upfront by the Dash recently. She was hugely impressive in the game against Courage, constantly getting in positions to score, but she could not apply the finishing touch.

However, she played an integral role in the attack nevertheless and 67 minutes into the game, she went on a marauding run down the left flank and cut back for Bárbara Oliveiri to finish.

8. Racheal KundananjiBay FC

Beset by injury in February, the world’s most expensive women’s footballer has not yet hit peak form in the NWSL, but she scored her second goal of the season in May in Bay’s 3-2 defeat to Portland Thorns.

Cutting inside her defender with a dummy before switching onto her right foot and slotting home, Kundananji showed a flash of what she is capable of, but the NWSL has not yet witnessed her in full flow for extended periods.

9. Grace ChandaMadrid CFF

Newly-signed Orlad Pride player Chanda, who has played a bit-part role for the same Madrid CFF team that her fellow Zambia star Kundananji left for Bay FC, was on target in the 6-1 win over Valencia.

She scored Madrid’s fifth goal in stoppage time, reminding the world that there are more than two quality Zambian offensive players. It has been a difficult season for Chanda with limited game time, but she looks set to cap it off on a positive note before a move to the NWSL.

10. Hildah Magaia, Mazatlán FC

Banyana Banyana striker Magaia scored for Mazatlán in their 3-2 defeat to Santos Laguna – her fourth goal in 15 appearances for the side she joined in January.

Despite being prolific for Banyana Banyana, it has taken some time for her to come onto the radar of bigger clubs overseas, but this season, she has held her own in a competitive Liga MX Femenil – although she could improve her strike rate still.

[ESPN]

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