The final 2023 NWSL draft registration list is out, and the draft is only two days away! J.J. Post (College soccer beat writer for the Observer (the Notre Dame student newspaper), buckys5thquarter.com, @jayjaypost on Twitter) and I put together the final mock draft before the big day, so lets get into it.
1.01 – Angel City – Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy) – F
Thompson declared as the presumptive #1 pick after that blockbuster four team trade last week. The previous Stanford commit and future US National team sensation goes first overall to Angel City.
1.02 – Gotham FC – Michelle Cooper (Duke) – F
Many other years Cooper would be a slam dunk top overall choice. Has a cannon of a shot, can create chances at will, and has a knack for showing up in the biggest moments. Recently was crowned the 2022 Mac Hermann trophy winner. A sparkplug for Gotham’s attack that they experiement with at both center forward or attacking midfield falls into their laps at #2.
1.03 – Orlando Pride – Emily Madril (BK Häcken FF, formerly at Florida State) – D
Madril is currently playing professionally overseas in Sweeden, and was the first overall pick in our previous two mocks. Orlando should feel comfortable selecting her here at 3.
1.04 – Racing Louisville – Reyna Reyes (Alabama) – D
Reyes is fantastic value at the #4 spot. A cornerstone on an Alabama team that took a big step forward in 2022, Reyes is a defensively solid fullback that can also add quality going forward. A steady passer who also can beat players on the dribble, Reyes’ international status hardly should be a serious concern. She’s worth the roster spot, and looks destined to be a sharpied-in name on Mexican national team lineups going forward.
1.05 – Portland Thorns – Penelope Hocking (Penn State) – F
With Yazmeen Ryan off to Gotham, and Sophia Smith getting ready for a World Cup, Portland needs to add goal scoring and chance creation to their championship lineup. Hocking is a proven goal scorer, who created plenty this past season at Penn State.
1.06 – North Carolina Courage – Jenna Nighswonger (Florida State) – F
Nighswonger is one of the best creators and corner takers in the country, and she ended the 2022 season 2nd in the NCAA with 16 assists. North Carolina needs to replace to attacking presence of Debinha, and this is a great start.
1.07 – Chicago Red Stars – Summer Yates (Washington) – M
Chicago currently has two midfielders on their roster, its a bold strategy, but let’s give them one more just in case. Yates is an attacking midfielder who can create and score on her own, and a solid building block for the future.
1.08 – Houston Dash – Sophie Jones (Duke) – M
Jones was a staple in the center of the park for the Blue Devils, and its hard to turn down a midfielder who hardly ever puts a foot wrong dictating tempo in possession. Can cover both as a traditional 8 or further back in a midfield pivot depending on the personnel around her.
1.09 -North Carolina Courage – Jordan Brewster (West Virginia) – D
Brewster should be the second centerback selected in this draft. Youth national team experience, over 100 career starts, All Big 12 five times, North Carolina is happy to select her at 9th overall.
1.10 – Kansas City Current – Chaylyn Hubbard (TCU) – D
There’s not a ton of fullback depth in this class, and Hubbard looks to be the clear #1 on the board at right back. Kansas City doesn’t have many holes to fill following an impressive 2022 campaign and makes the most single-position specific pick in the mock so far.
1.11 – North Carolina Courage – Alexa Spaanstra (Virginia) – F
A rare 30 goal 30 assist player in her career at Virginia, Spaanstra is one of the best wing prospects in this draft. Pairing her with Nighswonger around Diana Ordonez makes North Carolina a threat up front.
1.12 – Portland Thorns – Nicole Douglas (Arizona State) – F
A complete center forward who can do a little bit of everything. Quality in front of goal is a given for one of the nation’s top forwards, but she’s also a solid progressive passer and has posted great dribbling numbers. Another player where sheer quality over rules any roster sorting that might have to be done to fit the English international into the side.
Round One Recap:
Previous mock drafts shed a light on just how many talented forwards are in this class, and now with previous first round staples Maya Doms, Croix Bethune and Jayde Riviere not declaring, the forwards make their presence felt.
2.01 – Gotham FC – Jyllissa Harris (South Carolina) – D/M
Gotham has an aging back line, Harris can both learn from their experience and add a strong defensive presence for the future.
2.02 – Chicago Red Stars – Clara Robbins (Florida State) – M
Chicago needs an injection of proven talent in midfield, and a heavy dose of it. You can’t get more proven then Robbins, who’s coming off seven years in college and has developed a game in the center of the park that has a bit of everything
2.03 – Kansas City Current – Messiah Bright (TCU) – F
Kansas City just added Debinha, but why not give them even more attacking power? Bright was extremely productive at TCU and should benefit greatly from Kansas City’s new addition.
2.04 – Racing Louisville – Tori Hansen (North Carolina) – D
Hansen was an anchor at centerback for North Carolina, and her arial dominance should translate nicely to professional ranks. A consistent passer as well, Hansen could add immediate defensive depth to Louisville’s ranks.
2.05 – Racing Louisville – Izzy D’Aquila (Santa Clara) – F
Louisville needs some attacking help. D’Aquila was a star in 2022 for the Broncos and her willingness to engage in attacking challenges and duels is unmatched.
2.06 – Kansas City Current – Kayla Fischer (Ohio State) – F
An electric dribbler, Fischer enters professional ranks somewhat under the radar after being a staple of the Buckeye attack for years. Key pass numbers are also strong and she can add a different dimension to the Current attack out wide
2.07 – Chicago Red Stars – Grace Yochum (Oklahoma State) – M
Chicago: now with 100% more midfielders. Yochum is a tall, skilled midfielder that Chicago would be lucky to have here in the second round.
2.08 – Houston Dash – Sydney Collins (Cal) – D
Its really anyone’s guess what teams’ boards look like at the centerback position once Madril gets taken presumably within the first few picks, but credit to Chris Henderson who has done a stellar job making the case for Collins, who’s been a rock at the back for Cal. A steady passer who has won duels at a pro-caliber rate at the college level.
2.09 – Orlando Pride – Emma Regan (Texas) – M
Orlando has a ton of picks in this draft, so they’ll be targeting just about every position. Regan is a Canadian international, with a cap on the women’s National team, she has plenty of starting experience and is a three time all-Big 12 award winner.
2.10 – Houston Dash – Jessica De Fillipo (Arkansas) – M
Top tier versatility with experience in both the center of the park and up front. Had a breakout 2022 and ball progression skills could allow her to take on a role early into her professional career as a sparkplug off the bench.
2.11 – Kansas City Current – Mykiaa Minniss (Washington State) – D
Minniss has started 92 games at Washington State, a program record. The four time All PAC12 performer made the preseason MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List and is one of the top center backs in the class. Kansas City lucks out getting the 5’11” defender here in the second.
2.12 – Portland Thorns – Ruby Diodati (Michigan State) – D
Best suited at left back but can also pitch in at centerback. Only one season of power five experience under her belt (Diodati transferred to the Spartans from Colgate in 2022), but she played a crucial role in leading Michigan State to the program’s first ever outright Big Ten title. Finished the season as InStat’s second highest rated division one left back.
Round Two Recap:
Still a lot of big names here in round two, as expected in such a talented draft class. A ton of first round players in the second round, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a lot of draft movement this year, with NWSL teams vying for the opportunity to move up.
3.01 – Orlando Pride – Ally Schlegel (Penn State) – F
Schlegel probably shouldn’t make it to the third round, but that’s just an example of the value that can be had in the later rounds this year. The Penn State standout was a double digit goal scorer every year and had over 20 assists in her career.
3.02 – Washington Spirit – Riley Mattingly Parker (Alabama) – F
A well rounded forward, InStat ranks Mattingly Parker in the top ten of both xG generated and goals scored. She also has a creative element to her game as well, as evidenced by her solid chance creation numbers.
3.03 – Orlando Pride – Mackenzie George (Tennessee) – F
Multiple time All-SEC, a ten assist season under her belt, George was nothing if not consistent at Tennessee. Orlando is strengthening the front line in the third round.
3.04 – Racing Louisville – Cecily Stoute (Georgia) – D
Defenders who are capable of lining up at either left or right back will always have a place on draft boards. Steady passer and consistent defender with experience at the international level.
3.05 – Orlando Pride – Ella Shamburger (Vanderbilt) – D
97 games played at Vanderbilt, and 97 starts for Ella. After picking up two forwards earlier in the third round, Orlando takes a defender to play next to first round selection Emily Madril.
3.06 – North Carolina Courage – Molly McLaughlin (Xavier) – M
McLaughlin posted some ridiculous numbers as a ball-winner in 2022, and has a bite at defensive midfield that perhaps no other prospect in the class can match
3.07 – Racing Louisville – Jadyn Edwards (New Mexico) – M
Former Mountain West Offensive player of the year, Edwards heads to Louisville to provide depth behind Savannah DeMelo.
3.08 – OL Reign – Lauren DeBeau (Michigan State) – M
Another Michigan State transfer that enjoyed an impressive 2022, DeBeau posted a double-digit goal campaign while also creating a solid share of chances for the Spartans
3.09 – San Diego Wave FC – Haley Hopkins (Virginia) – F
This was Hopkins’ 6th college season, not quite as many as Clara Robbins, but still plenty of experience for a San Diego front that could use some goal scoring depth with a World Cup fast approaching.
3.10 – Orlando Pride – Carlee Giammona (Pepperdine) – M
A hidden gem in the WCC, Giammona posted some ridiculous chance creation and key pass numbers with Pepperdine. A capable dribbler as well, her future seems certain to be at atttacking midfield but there’s potential upside for a more box-to-box profile as well
3.11 – Kansas City Current – Delaney Graham (Duke) – D
Graham may be one of the more underrated outside back prospects in the draft. She’s quick and a more than capable passer from the back. Kansas City adds to their right back talent here.
3.12 – Portland Thorns – Talani Barnett (Ohio State) – D
Composed and consistent at the back, Barnett is as smooth as they come as a centerback prospect. Polished passing game is a nice touch on her resume.
Round Three Recap –
The third round belongs to the Orlando Pride, and it will go as they go. Like the second round, the Pride may control a good deal of movement with the draft capital they have, if they choose to do so.
4.01 – Washington Spirit – Katie Soderstrom (Butler) – M
Back to back to back to back First Team All Big East awards, Soderstrom ends her college career with 98 points in 79 games.
4.02 – Kansas City Current – Rylan Childers (Kansas) – M
Another well-rounded attacking minded midfielder, Childers consistently produced on an oft-underwhelming Kansas team. It stands to reason she could do even more once surrounded by professional talent
4.03 – Orlando Pride – Megan McClelland (Rutgers) – GK
This is a very talented goalkeeping class, and McClelland leads the way. After 100 games at Rutgers, she posted a career save percentage over 80%, made multiple All Big Ten teams, and has experience playing with the US U-18 squad.
4.04 – Racing Louisville – Sydney Studer (Washington State) – M
Perhaps the most dominant player in this draft class when it comes to arial prowess, Studer’s future home could be as a centerback. Or a 6. Or an 8. Who knows? She’s played all of those positions in college. Her versatility and power in the air make her a tantalizing prospect regardless of where teams value her most.
4.05 – Orlando Pride – Trinity Watson (Pepperdine) – D
Watson is one of the more intriguing left back prospects in the draft. Four time All WCC, the defender provides great value as a set piece taker and shot creator from the back.
4.06 – Kansas City Current – Olivia Wingate (Notre Dame) – F
Wingate was an underlying numbers monster in 2022 at Notre Dame, generating xG at an impressive clip while leading the line for one of the nations’ top teams. Her quickness is evident every time she makes a run, and its not a stretch to think she might have more development still to come, having played winger for most of her career at Notre Dame before being moved up to center forward
4.07 – Chicago Red Stars – Civana Kuhlmann (Colorado) – F
Now that Chicago has a few midfielders, they can focus on getting someone to take the pressure off of Mallory Swanson. Kuhlman transferred to Colorado from Stanford, and logged 12 goals and 6 assists in her only year on the Buffaloes.
4.08 – Gotham FC – Maliah Morris (Clemson) – F
Capable of playing on both the left and right side, Morris is a nightmare for fullbacks to handle in one on one situations. Could add another dynamic to a Gotham attack that could be much stronger in 2022 behind Purce and Cooper.
4.09 – San Diego Wave – Ashley Barron (Cincinnati) – D
With Naomi Girma playing in the World Cup, San Diego could use some help on the back line, and who better than the two time Big East Defensive player of the year. Barron has been first team All Big East 3 times, and adds even more height to a dangerously tall San Diego squad (Taylor Kornieck shoutout).
4.10 – OL Reign – Lauren Kozal (Michigan State) – GK
A +7 xGC-GC differential and 12 shutouts? Sign me up.
4.11 – Kansas City Current – Sophie Hirst (Harvard) – M
Youth National Team experience, two time first team All Ivy, and lead a very talented Harvard team to a first round win in the NCAA tournament.
4.12 – Portland Thorns – Sophie Wais Braun (Gonzaga) – M
Another well rounded midfielder who can be developed in a bunch of different roles on a team that isn’t going to be looking for immediate starters in the fourth round. Teams always love a local product selection as well.
Round Four Recap –
Still plenty of talent on the board after round four, and we may see more than two goalkeepers this year with Lauren Bryzkcy, Angelina Anderson and Ashley Orkus all declaring. Should be one of the better drafts we’ve seen in recent years!