This Thursday will see the NWSL Draft return to an in-person event in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Unlike its male counterpart in MLS, the NWSL Draft sees almost immediate impact from the top picks. Players like US Women’s Player of the Year Sophia Smith and San Diego’s rookie standout, Naomi Girma, are just a few of the names to impact their clubs straight out of the draft. Here is Connor Marshall’s 2023 NWSL mock draft.
The 2023 NWSL Mock Draft: Predicting the Draft on Thursday
1. Angel City FC – Alyssa Thompson, Forward
Angel City recently completed a blockbuster trade in order to acquire the number one pick in this year’s draft. It was then reported that the decision had already been made of who to pick. 18-year-old standout and Stanford commit Alyssa Thompson. Shortly after this news broke, Thompson de-committed from Stanford and registered for the draft. Despite not even playing in college, Thompson has already made two appearances with the senior national team. Thompson also signed a NIL deal with Nike at 17, making her the first high schooler to do so with the company. In Alyssa Thompson, Angel City will have the future of women’s soccer playing every day at their club.
2. NJ/NY Gotham FC – Michelle Cooper, Forward, Duke
Before last week’s trade, Gotham held the number one pick in the draft. However, due to the surprise entry of Alyssa Thompson in the draft pool, it looks like nothing will change in terms of decision-making for Gotham. Michelle Cooper finished her sophomore season at Duke by winning the Hermann Trophy as the top player in the country. Cooper set a Duke record of 31 goals last season. In addition to her collegiate accolades, she has represented the United States on the u-20 national team. Gotham will gladly give up the first pick to take Cooper at two.
3. Orlando Pride – Emily Madril, Defender, Florida State
Some early mocks had Emily Madril going first overall. Orlando needs help on their backline. So, it’s a case of getting the best available that is also a need. Madril helped Florida State win two national championships in 2018 and 2021. Despite missing last year due to injury, Madril should help a sparse Orlando defense.
4. Racing Louisville FC – Jyllissa Harris, Defender, South Carolina
This could be a bit of a reach at such an early pick for Louisville. However, it fills a specific need at the center back for them. Harris played nearly 2,000 minutes in her senior season and was third in scoring for the Gamecocks. She could end up playing a solid role in Louisville’s future.
5. Portland Thorns FC – Reyna Reyes, Defender, Alabama
As of last week, the Thorns had the last pick of the first round as defending champions. Now they could end up with a steal at five in Reyna Reyes. In a season that saw Alabama make the semifinals in the college cup, Reyes was named SEC defender of the year and a Hermann award finalist. Portland has a top need at left-back, so Reyes will fit in perfectly.
6. North Carolina Courage – Penelope Hocking, Forward, Penn State
This is the first of three picks for the Courage in the first round, with Penelope Hocking, North Carolina would get a proven talent at the forward position. Prior to playing for Penn State last season, Hocking was the all-time leading scorer for USC. This could be a steal to start a busy first round for North Carolina.
7. Chicago Red Stars – Sophie Jones, Midfielder, Duke
Chicago lacks depth in the midfield. Therefore, it makes sense that they take the top midfielder in this year’s draft class. Sophie Jones was the Gatorade Player of the Year coming out of high school. In her four seasons at Duke, she started all 75 matches. That sort of consistency might make her a staple in this league for years to come.
8. Houston Dash – Clara Robbins, Midfielder, Florida State
Houston is another team looking to target midfielders. Clara Robbins was a constant on a dominant Florida State team that won two national championships. Her 110 career matches played are the most in school history and the second most in NCAA history.
9. North Carolina Courage – Alexa Spaanstra, Forward, Virginia
It might be overkill to get both Hocking and Spaanstra in the first round, but I see North Carolina using this pick to grab the best available. Spaanstra tallied 37 goals and 34 assists in five seasons at Virginia. Her talent and consistency on the pitch should translate to the pros.
10. Kansas City Current – Chaylyn Hubbard, Defender, TCU
Kansas City has put together a formidable roster this offseason. So, this is more of a depth need at right back with Hubbard. She had a prolific year on more than just defense scoring two goals and three assists in 2022. The versatility of her attacking threat could come in handy for the Current.
11. North Carolina Courage – Summer Yates, Midfielder, Washington
The Courage have to address needs in the midfield. Summer Yates is known for providing chances on offense. Last season she lead Washington in goals, assists, and points and was an All-Pac 12 First Team member. This would round out a solid first round for the Courage.
12. Portland Thorns – Nicole Douglas, Forward, Arizona State
Portland rounds out the first by selecting one of the top forwards Nicole Douglas. Douglas is a prolific goal scorer who set a single-season record at Arizona State by scoring 19 goals in 2021. In total, she tallied 60 over five seasons and could be one to watch for the future in the pros.
The 2023 NWSL Draft will start on January 12 at 6 PM EST. The first hour can be seen on CBS Sports Network as well as Paramount Plus. After that, the coverage will continue on Paramount Plus and CBS Sports HQ.
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The 2023 NWSL Mock Draft: Overall Summary
The 2023 NWSL mock draft is just a prediction on who could be drafted where in the NWSL Draft. Whatever happens though, Thursday will be a memorable day for many of the players, as they get drafted and start their professional careers.