Baltimore, Maryland — In front of a crowd of hundred of fellow players, professional coaches and media, Sophia Smith stood up proudly. She heard her name first in the NWSL College Draft. Her selection was historic, as she became the first-ever teenager drafted in the league.
Smith is the newest member of the Portland Thorns. Before the draft kicked off, a flurry of trades occurred. However, Portland picked up the No. 1 overall pick about a week before the draft. To do so, the club traded Emily Sonnett, the rights to Caitlin Foord and a couple draft picks to Orlando.
Other trades saw a shift of order in the first round. Portland ended up holding the first and second overall pick. The first, they used for Smith, a standout midfielder and forward from Stanford, who recently won the NCAA Women’s College Cup over North Carolina. She also received her first senior U.S. Women’s National Team call up in November.
Portland then shocked the NWSL world by skipping over UCLA standout Ashley Sanchez, and instead picking up Morgan Weaver from Washington State University. Sanchez slipped down to the fourth overall pick, looking dismayed when called upon by the Washington Spirit.
To get Sanchez, the Washington Spirit made what they called a “blockbuster” trade. During the draft, they said a player would head to Sky Blue FC to get the fourth pick. However, after the draft, that player was named. Mallory Pugh is the newest member of Sky Blue FC.
In the middle of Weaver and Sanchez was the third pick, held by the Orlando Pride. Looking to shape up almost every area of the pitch, the Pride got a physical player with their pick. Taylor Kornieck became the newest member of the Pride after going No. 3 overall.
Tziarra King gets picked, Watt goest to the champions
It’s pretty standard to see players get up and thank their parents and coaches. However, Tziarra King had a couple other people to thank. After being selected by the Utah Royals FC with the eighth overall pick, King thanked basically everyone at North Carolina State University.
She made sure to thank the groundskeeping crew for keeping the pitch pristine. King recorded 48 goals in 88 total appearances for the Wolfpack. She started every single match she appeared in, while also providing 19 assists.
King will join an attacking group that features Amy Rodriguez, Vero Boquete and, of course, Christen Press. Utah currently does not have a coach right now, as Laura Harvey departed the league for a U.S. Soccer youth coaching job. Right now, Scott Parkinson is serving as interim head coach while a search continues. Reign FC also has not confirmed a head coach for 2020, but signs are pointing to Farid Benstiti.
Meanwhile, Ally Watt is heading to the defending champions.
Another pick that was highly regarded and expected to go in the first round, Watt is heading to North Carolina from Texas A&M. During her time down south, Watt started all 20 of her appearances during her senior year. She scored 16 goals.
Can’t wait to see you! pic.twitter.com/9ZAK7b8jRq
— Utah Royals FC (@UtahRoyalsFC) January 16, 2020
The Entire Draft Class
👏👏, to the draftees.
— NWSL (@NWSL) January 16, 2020
News and Notes from the NWSL Draft
- International Slots: Two players selected in the draft will take up international slots. Evelyn Viens, who hails from Quebec City, Canada, will acquire an international slot. Meanwhile, Orlando picked up Jamaican Women’s National Team member, and captain, Konya Plummer.
- Players moving around: We already mentioned that Pugh is heading to Sky Blue FC. That’s a huge trade, especially since the team also acquired Midge Purce and McCall Zerboni this offseason. Also moving teams is Rachel Hill, who is the newest member of the Chicago Red Stars. Finally, Christen Westphal is heading to the Portland Thorns.
- Mandy McGlynn is the Lone GK: Mandy McGlynn, who featured for Virginia Tech in the ACC, was the lone goalkeeper selected in this year’s draft. She’s heading to New Jersey, joining Sky Blue FC as the backup to Kailen Sheridan. However, Sheridan will likely be on the Canadian roster, should the team qualify for the Olympics. Expect McGlynn to get some minutes for Sky Blue.
— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) January 16, 2020