The 2021 NWSL regular season is in the books, and while we wait for the playoff games to start, it seemed a perfect time to put together the first 2022 NWSL mock draft. Previous articles on the site dive into what makes a first round pick, but this is all about the players. Lets get into it.
Meet your mock GM’s:
Representing Gotham FC – Robbie Rogers: NJ/NY Gotham FC beat writer for Jersey Sporting News and Beyond Women’s Sports (follow @robrog1115 on Twitter).
Representing Racing Louisville – Zach W. Allen: Vamos Morados podcast host and general Louisville soccer aficionado (follow @zachwallen on Twitter).
Representing the newly christened Kansas City Current – J.J. Post: College soccer beat writer for the Observer (the Notre Dame student newspaper) and buckys5thquarter.com.
1.01 – San Diego – Jaelin Howell (M – Florida State)
Howell, Girma, and Fishel are all solid contenders for the number one spot, but San Diego picks up the Mac Hermann award winner to start their franchise.
1.02 – Louisville (from Angel City FC) – Naomi Girma (D – Stanford)
Girma brings a ton to the team both on and off the field. She recently captained the US U-20 team and has anchored a strong Stanford defense this season. – @ZachWAllen
1.03 – Kansas City – Clara Robbins (M – Florida State)
Kansas City needs help in the spine of their side. Robbins isn’t a pure creative number ten like Stratigakis, but she can do a job in a bunch of midfield roles, allowing her to offer a little more versatility in the center of the park. Having pieces you can plug in at multiple spots is never a bad thing on a team that needs both depth and quality at multiple positions. – @JayJayPost
1.04 – Louisville – Julia Grosso (M – Texas)
Coming off a gold medal with the Canadian national team this summer, Julia brings a ton of experience for such a young player. Racing has struggled to control the center of the pitch this season and a player like Grosso could help. -@ZachWAllen
1.05 – Orlando – Mia Fishel (F – UCLA)
The youngest player in the draft, and the only player leaving early as of now, Fishel is an absolute steal for Orlando at fifth overall. Even with Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux up front, Fishel would be an every-week contributor for the Pride.
1.06 – Houston – Penelope Hocking (F – USC)
Hocking finished her USC career as the teams all time leader in points and goals (122 and 51 respectively). Adding her to a front line featuring Nichelle Prince, Shea Groom and Rachel Daly makes Houston a threat to get back in the playoffs next year. She also scored a goal from outside the box with only one shoe on this year, it’s maybe the best goal of the season. See that and her other plays in her highlight reel over on our YouTube channel.
1.07 – North Carolina – Frankie Tagliaferri (M – Rutgers)
A player with over a hundred career points, several years of youth national team experience, a multiple time All-American and a regular on the Mac Hermann watch list. North Carolina gets better with the seventh overall pick.
1.08 – Gotham (from Chicago) – Karlina Sample (D – Texas A&M)
Helping her Aggies log half of the shutouts in game she has played in, Sample would be a good pickup for any NWSL defense – @robrog1115
1.09 – Kansas City (from Washington) – Kim Rodriguez (D – Oklahoma State)
In keeping with the earlier theme for Kansas City, versatility is key factor in building their draft class. Kansas City need help through the middle, and in adding Rodriguez they get a player that can anchor a defense at centerback as well as supplement the midfield. She’s a bit undersized for a conventional centerback prospect, listed at just 5’6″, but her height has never troubled her in the Big 12. Being a fully capped member of the Mexican national team is only another feather in her cap. – @JayJayPost
1.10 – Gotham – Mackenzie George (F – Tennessee)
Leading her team in assists, George could prove to be a great asset for Gotham FC if she is able to keep those numbers up. – @robrog1115
1.11 – Washington (from OL Reign) – Alexa Spaanstra (F – Virginia)
There are several players on the 1st-2nd round cusp that feel like they should be going higher, a sign of the strength of this years class. Spaanstra is one of those players. Adding her on the wing across from Trinity Rodman gives Washington’s young front line a great additional boost.
1.12 – OL Reign (from Portland) – Gabby Carle (D – Florida State)
Like fellow Canadian national Julia Grosso before her, Gabby Carle takes her Olympic gold medal and reinforces the back line of OL Reign. Not their biggest need, but a great value and an incredible depth add at the back of the first.
Round One Recap:
Mia Fishel falling out of the top three and the appearance of Mackenzie George are the big surprises here. However, the main takeaways are that this is a deep class, and that the Christen Press trade looks very good for the future of Racing Louisville.
2.01 – San Diego – Savannah DeMelo (M – USC)
DeMelo is potentially the best number ten in this class. 27 career assists and a laundry list of squad appearances with US youth National Teams, San Diego picks up a top quality player with the first selection in the second round.
2.02 – Angel City FC – Rebecca Jarrett (F – Virginia)
Jarrett is a Dossier favorite (check out the article and highlights) and not including her in the first round is physically painful. Her season ending injury this past year might push her down into the second, but she deserves to be in the first. Her speed and creativity across from Christen Press will be a problem for the rest of the league.
2.03 – OL Reign (from Kansas City) – Jordan Brewster (D – West Virginia)
Brewster is another first round hopeful who ticks all the boxes. Youth national team experience, conference-All American, Mac Hermann watchlist. OL Reign picks up a solid defender who provides starting caliber talent on an already talented team. And like Jarrett above her, Brewster has highlights too.
2.04 – Louisville – Emily Madril (D -Florida State)
Emily is coming off an incredible senior season with Florida State and would bring much needed depth for Racing at both the Center Back and Defensive Midfielder positions. -@ZachWAllen
Three players with highlights in a row! Watch Madril dribble around everyone here.
2.05 – Kansas City (from Orlando) – Ryanne Brown (D/M – Wake Forest)
Same story as my last KC pick. When you have a talented player who can fill in at multiple spots, you make the pick. Brown has quietly played an integral role in one of Wake Forest’s best teams in years, and she can be slotted in just about anywhere on the pitch. She’s played some of her best soccer this season as a fullback in Wake’s 4-3-3, but she has prior experience in the midfield and even the forward line that Kansas City could make use of. – @JayJayPost
2.06 – Chicago (from Houston) – Sarah Stratigakis (M -Michigan)
Stratigakis is the third Canadian National team member to be drafted here, and her ability as a true attacking midfielder paired with Mallory Pugh’s chance creation can help Chicago find a few much needed goals. Sarah is also the owner of a great turn, and you can see it on display in her highlights.
2.07 – Chicago (from North Carolina) – Nicole Douglas (F -Arizona State)
When you need goals, why not draft the top scorer in the country. Douglas is an English international with 12 caps at the youth level, and her 18 goals during the past season should draw Chicago’s attention.
2.08 – Chicago – Izzy Rodriguez (D – Ohio State)
After solidifying the front line with the previous two picks, Chicago secures one of the better defenders in the draft as well. Rodriguez is a former Big 10 defender of the year, a highly decorated All-American and a member of previous U20 and U17 US National teams.
2.09 – Washington – Summer Yates (M – University of Washington)
With 56 points in her career at the University of Washington, and a ton of experience on youth national teams, Washington takes a chance on a player who can back up Ashley Sanchez and provide midfield help.
2.10 – OL Reign (from Gotham) – Brandi Peterson (D – TCU)
A comfortable defender and dribbler, Peterson brings depth the the outside back position in Seattle, letting NWSL assist leader Sofia Huerta play on the wing if needed. *Note: right before publishing, Brandi won Big 12 defensive player of the year. So she has that going for her as well.
2.11 – Houston (from OL Reign) – Kirsten Pavlisko (D – Florida State)
More Florida State players?? Yes, that’s right. Pavlisko may return for another season, but if she declares, she’ll be in contention for the starting right back position in Houston.
2.12 – Portland – Alia Martin (D – Michigan)
Decorated would be an adequate description. Voted first team All Big 10 three times, multiple appearances on the Mac Hermann award watch list, and the heart of the Michigan defense. Portland grabs a solid centerback to support their back line.
Round Two Recap:
Chicago capitalizes on the abundance of quality in this draft class with three selections in the middle of round two. They add to their back line, which helps Tierna Davidson rest after international appearances, and secure two attacking players in Douglas and Stratigakis that can add goals up front.
3.01 – San Diego – Brianna Martinez (D – Notre Dame)
A wing back at Notre Dame, Martinez joins San Diego after logging almost 5000 minutes in her 4 year college career.
3.02 – Angel City FC – Lucy Porter (F – Hofstra)
If any team can convince Lucy Porter and her 121 career points to stay here in the states and not return overseas to England, its Angel City. A player who should be drafted much higher, Porter falls to the third because of her WSL ties, but if she declares, she shouldn’t be available here in the third.
3.03 – Kansas City – Sarah Griffith (F – Purdue)
This is the bit of the draft where I throw positional fits to the wind and just take the best player available. Griffith hasn’t risen to the level she should have on some boards because Purdue isn’t a high profile team, but she’s quietly powered them to the second best record in the Big Ten behind only Rutgers. With great scoring range and a nearly unstoppable on-ball dribble ability, if Griffith falls like I suspect she might she has a decent shot to become the steal of the draft. She’s almost certainly the player I’m most excited about everyone getting the chance to see in the national tournament in a few weeks. – @JayJayPost
3.04 – Louisville – Emily Gray (M – Virginia Tech)
Emily is coming off an incredible season for Virginia Tech, starting every game and leading the team in points, goals, and assists. She would add some much needed depth in the midfield for Racing and is skilled enough to be a solid contributor right out of the gate. – @ZachWAllen
3.05 – Orlando – Yujie Zhao (M -Florida State)
In our quest to draft the entire Florida State roster, Chinese international Yujie Zhao finds her way to the Orlando Pride. Contributing off the bench for the final two seasons of her college career, Zhao can do the same for the Pride, providing creativity at the midfield position.
3.06 – OL Reign (from Houston) – Raleigh Loughman (M -Michigan)
A 22 point senior season led Loughman to be voted to the All-Big Ten first team. A former member of the U20 Argentine women’s national team, Raleigh brings even more international experience to a formidable OL Reign side.
3.07 – OL Reign (from North Carolina) – Maricarmen Reyes (M – UCLA)
Making her return from several injuries, Reyes played 13 games at UCLA along with several appearances for the Mexican national team during 2021. OL continues to improve and round out their midfield.
3.08 – Chicago – Messiah Bright (F – TCU)
Chicago isn’t done securing attacking talent yet, and they pick up Bright in the third. A composed finisher, Messiah frequently uses her strength to score and distribute to her teammates.
3.09 – Washington – Oliwia Wos (D – Indiana)
Wos missed out on being named to an all Big Ten team her senior season, but Washington selects the tall defender for her versatility at the centerback position. Being capped at the full national team level for Poland helps as well.
3.10 – Gotham – Reese Moffat (D – LSU)
Moffatt will bring some youth to the veteran backline of Gotham FC, her style of play in the Southeastern Conference should fit perfectly into Coach Parkinson and Gotham FC plug and play defense. – @robrog1115
3.11 – Portland (from OL Reign) – Zsani Kajan (F – St. John’s)
Portland acquire Kajan, the second leading scorer in the nation, to reinforce a front line that will surely be picked over in the expansion draft.
3.12 – Portland – Cecily Stoute (D – Georgia)
Part of a back three at Georgia, Stoute provides some defensive flexibility for Portland. A former member of the Trinidad and Tobago national team, Stoute is an intelligent defender who can press and position with the best of them.
Round Three Recap –
Even without a first round pick, Angel City could turn in a very solid draft. A front line of Press, Jarrett and Porter would be explosive. Portland picking up Kajan and Stoute at the end of the round helps them round out their roster and continue competing at the top of the league.
4.01 – San Diego – Nicki Hernandez (M – Michigan)
A productive player out on the wing, Hernandez can play a variety of roles for a team that’s still building their tactics, bringing 73 career points to her new NWSL team.
4.02 – Angel City FC – Lauren Brzykcy (GK – UCLA)
A team will draft a goalkeeper. Why not a team building it’s roster from scratch? One more spot to be used on other positions during the expansion draft if you plan on drafting a goalkeeper late in the college draft. Brzykcy may not be the odds on favorite to be drafted, that award most likely goes to Claudia Dickey, but the UCLA goalkeeper always finds herself in good position and has the higher career save percentage out of the two.
4.03 – Kansas City – Olivia Wingate (F – Notre Dame)
I’m going to throw my own “best player available” rule away here and instead am going to draft for potential. Had Nicki Hernandez not gone two picks above this would have been a harder choice but with her off the board I’m more than happy to go with Wingate. While her numbers don’t pop off the page, it’s easy to see in just about every game she plays she has traits that indicate she could be a late round steal under the right coach. Her physical gifts are obvious and fantastic- she’s almost always the fastest player on the pitch. She can run with the ball too, which is a huge extension of such a trait that not a lot of players develop. She’s shown flashes of being able to combine play quickly in build-up and has a good work rate. Her main drawback is she’s a converted winger who only really became a full-time center forward recently- her runs don’t emulate that of your traditional number 9. She frequently drifts wide with her runs on breakaways when there’s a more clear path in directly on goal. But that’s the sort of thing the right professional coach can fix. If Wingate is taken by a team that can develop her in the NWSL, she could be a serious weapon up front. – @JayJayPost
4.04 – Louisville – Haley Hopkins (F – UVA)
Hayley has had an incredible college career at Vanderbilt and UVA and has been a major contributor for the currently first ranked Cavaliers. While the attacking depth for Racing is currently pretty solid it’s hard to pass up a player of Hayley’s caliber this late in the draft. – @ZachWAllen
4.05 – Orlando – Eva Van Deursen (M – Arizona State)
Eva is a Dutch international with impressive playmaking and goal scoring ability from the midfield position. Pairing her with Zhao provides a nice core of youth in the midfield for an aging Orlando squad.
4.06 – Houston – Trinity Watson (D – Pepperdine)
Watson provides not only additional talent on the back line, but also brings a terrific corner kick ability. When Kristie Mewis is out on International duty, Watson can step in and deliver set pieces.
4.07 – North Carolina – Kayla Fischer (F – Ohio State)
Ann additional forward to soak up minutes while Lynn Williams is away on international duty, Kayla Fisher was one of the Big Ten’s best offensive players.
4.08 – Chicago – Abby Swanson (M – Loyola Chicago)
Chicago loves taking players close to home, and Swanson fits that mold. A multiple time conference All-American and a former defensive player of the year, Abby Swanson doesn’t have far to go to make an impact for the Red Stars.
4.09 – Washington – Sammi Fisher (F/M – Notre Dame)
A 29 point senior season lands Fisher a slot in the fourth round to bolster an already stout Washington attack. A talented goal scorer, having time to grow behind the Spirit’s strikers will only help Fisher’s transition to professional soccer.
4.10 – Gotham – Rachel Jones (M – North Carolina)
Reuniting Jones with fellow Tarheel Brianna Pinto could make Gotham FC offense even more lethal. – @robrog1115
4.11 – OL Reign – Delaney Graham (D/M – Duke)
Graham may not have the resume of some of the other players in this class, but her speed and crossing ability get her a shot at the next level. Hopefully OL Reign play her less defensively and more as a midfielder on the right side, so she is able to showcase her offensive abilities.
4.12 – Portland – Grace Yochum (M – Oklahoma State)
Look, no one is saying Grace Yochum is a Lindsey Horan clone that would fit in nicely while all of the Thorns are away on internationally duty. Certainly not this website. However, we might say there are similarities. Playmaking vision, box to box height and work rate, aggressive and good in the air. Yochum hasn’t appeared on youth national team rosters, but has been an All Big 12 selection every year she’s played at Oklahoma State. Also, 74 career points. A player to play along Sam Coffey for the future.
Round Four Recap –
Tons of value still here, but this round is all about Hayley Hopkins and Rachel Jones. If these two declare before the draft, we’ll most likely see them much higher up the board. Jones projects to stay in school for another year or so and pursue a career outside of soccer, but if she plays professionally, this is an absolute theft in the fourth round. Hopkins is in a similar situation, finishing her career at Virginia after starring for Vanderbilt. Louisville grabbing the talented grad student is a cherry on top of a great draft for Zach.