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Archive for January 13, 2023

Jan. 13, 2023 — Big-time action at one of the get-togethers

Last evening, at the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia, the entry draft for the National Women’s Soccer League took place.

As over-analyzed as some player drafts are (see: NFL), there is annually more action at an NWSL draft than anywhere else.

Why? Well, you’ll notice that, in past years, a lot of trades were made for players to escape toxic coaching situations in roughly half of the teams. If you read the Yates Report and the joint NWSL-NWSLPA report, you can see a number of top players getting traded before the draft and landing in places where you didn’t have the likes of Paul Riley or Christy Holly or Richie Burke.

But even after these notorious figures and others have been drummed out of the league, there were still about a dozen moves made involving present and future draft picks.

One involved Angel City FC, which swung a four-team deal to get and the No. 1 player in the draft class, high-school player Alyssa Thompson.

But I think the team that made the most of its opportunity was the team that lost the NWSL Cup, the Kansas City Current. The Current traded away forward Lynn Williams to Gotham FC, then feasted on draft choices the rest of the way, selecting Duke’s Michelle Cooper with the second pick.

One interesting trend that I saw: a breadth of choices from many sources rather than concentrating on the anointed powerhouse teams. The two national finalists, UCLA and UNC, accounted for exactly three of the 48 choices out of the player pool.

The teams in the league have addressed on-field needs, for certain. And with all of the problems off the pitch the last few years, that is a good thing.