2024 NWSL Mock Draft – Version 1.0

UCLA Forward Reilyn Turner (photo courtesy @reilynturner on Instagram)

Still a few more NWSL post-season games left to be played, but it’s never too early for the first 2024 NWSL mock draft. It’ll be a busy off-season with both the expansion draft and the college draft around the corner, so let’s get started.

Meet your 2024 NWSL college mock draft GM’s:

Representing Gotham FC – Gary Gibson: Soccer Over Gotham podcast host and producer (follow @garygibson13 and @overgothampod on Twitter).

Representing the Kansas City Current – Mickey Alfano: Mickey Mics Up podcast host and co-founder and editor of Women’s Sports Exchange (follow @mickey_alfano and @wsportsexchange on Twitter).

Representing the North Carolina Courage – Tyler Trent: Find his writing (Courage and all things North Carolina soccer) on Topbin90.com, and find him @TTrent4 on Twitter.

Representing the Orlando Pride – Luis Hernandez: Co-Host of The Purple Pulse Podcast (an Orlando Pride Podcast) and contributor at The Orlando Soccer Journal, find him at @RadioactivClown on Twitter.

Representing the Portland Thorns – J.J. Post: College soccer reporter and broadcaster for Notre Dame’s The Observer and Fighting Irish Media. Draft Analyst for AmericanSoccerAnalysis.com and SoccerDossier.com. Can be found on Twitter @jayjaypost.

Representing Racing Louisville – Zach W. Allen: Vamos Morados podcast host and general Louisville soccer aficionado (follow @zachwallen on Twitter).

Round One

1.01 – Utah Royals – Trinity Byars (Texas) – F

Alyssa Thompson and Michelle Cooper last year, Trinity Byars and Lexi Missimo this year? Early declares are becoming more common, but we just never know at this stage. Couldn’t help taking a chance here that the US youth national team regular and Longhorn superstar might declare.

1.02 – Bay FC – Maya Doms (Stanford)- M

Maya has been at the top of these mock drafts for two years, and now she stays close to home with Bay FC’s inaugural pick. The attacking midfielder has been an offensive staple at Stanford for the last five years. 29 goals, 18 assists, 2x All Pac 12 first team, and plenty of experience at the youth national team level.

1.03 – Chicago Red Stars – Croix Bethune (Georgia) – M

Bethune transferred to Georgia this year after a very successful (though injury marred) career at USC. One of the most productive and electric players in this draft class, Bethune has a real shot at the first overall spot. Chicago lands a midfield centerpiece they can build around.

1.04 – Kansas City Current – Reilyn Turner (UCLA)- F

KC currently has five forwards and while they have been very effective, the addition of another strong attacker would help strengthen that front line for those last-minute push goals. Turner had an incredible collegiate career at UCLA, with ten goals to her name just this season, 42 during her whole career. She is skilled on the ball and alongside Michelle Cooper I think that they would be a great young front line to develop. – Mickey

1.05 – North Carolina Courage- Avery Patterson (UNC)- F

The Courage are coming off a strong season where they continued to add strong pieces in the midfield as the season progressed. While there are plenty of talented midfield players in this draft, the Courage will likely look to bolster other areas of their squad, starting with wing players. Avery Patterson has been one of the best collegiate players this season, scoring eight goals and providing two assists. This comes off a season where she scored 13 goals and added eight assists in 2022. In addition to her offensive output, Patterson is a good passer and provides a solid contribution in defense as well, which is a must for Sean Nahas’ style of play. – Tyler

1.06 – Racing Louisville – Julia Leas (Georgetown) – D

Racing comes into this offseason looking to bolster their defensive depth after struggling with depth issues due to injuries in the second half of last season. Leas has an incredible college resume and would be a strong addition to the team. 2x Mac Hermann finalist and 2022 first team all american, Julia is a strong defender with the ability to score on set pieces. – Zach

1.07 – Washington Spirit – Maycee Bell (UNC) – D

Bell is a tall, agile defender with plenty of experience not only at North Carolina, but on the youth national team level as well. She’s had several injuries throughout her collegiate career, but returned to form this season and falls to Washington for their first pick.

1.08 – Orlando Pride – Felicia Knox (Alabama) – M

The Pride are going to be tricky to predict. Haley Carter has a plan and I believe she will take the best available talent if she and Seb Hines rate the player. That being said, the Pride will be looking to find a midfielder who can be a playmaking creator that could provide service to Adriana and Messiah Bright. Knox has proven to be able to get the ball to teammates in the attack. Orlando will need to add to the midfield and this is a player who could be added to contribute. – Luis

1.09 – Gotham FC – Eva Gaetino (Notre Dame) – D

Who can help fill the massive hole left by Ali Krieger? Perhaps this athletic 5’11 defender. Gotham is also one of the shortest back lines in the league. Mac Hermann Trophy semifinalist 2022. US U-23 defender. – Gary

1.10 – Orlando Pride – Samar Guidry (Virginia) – D

Orlando was able to get good results with their defense compared to other years. Emily Madril and Rafaelle Souza seem to be the pairing for the backline. However, the defense lacks some good depth and the fullback position needs to be upgraded. Guidry will need to show that she can step up and perform. I’m not convinced that the pick will be Guidry, but the Pride should be addressing fullbacks in the first round. – Luis

1.11 – Washington Spirit – Sam Meza (UNC) – M

Washington has quite a few picks in this draft, and while they might not need an Ashley Sanchez backup right now, Meza is an experienced and talented midfielder that might be too good to pass up here.

1.12 – North Carolina Courage- Makenna Morris (Clemson) – D

Makenna Morris is an interesting prospect. I think the Courage will see value in her ability to play at right back as a solid fill-in for Ryan Williams or in an advanced attacking role where she can shine with her obvious attacking talents (Eight goals and six assists this season.) I see this as a development pick. Morris is obviously a great player, but under Nahas I think she could really shine and continue to develop much farther. – Tyler

1.13 – Portland Thorns – Megan Bornkamp (Clemson) – D/M/F

Clemson have experimented quite a bit with Bornkamp this year – the position listed isn’t a typo, she’s played forward, midfield, and backline roles this fall – but I think she projects best at the position she first broke out at, centerback. Portland probably isn’t looking to draft immediate starters this January after a strong season, but if there’s any area they could use additional options in it’s at centerback. Bornkamp probably will never recreate her supernova 2021 season – when she tallied an unheard of 10 goals and 10 assists from the backline – but she remains a consistent threat in the air as well as a versatile talent who can do a little bit of everything. – JJ

1.14 – San Diego Wave – Kennedy Wesley (Stanford) – D

Wesley, much like Maya Doms earlier in the draft, has had five great years at Stanford. Pushing 90 career starts, youth national team experience, 3x All Pac-12, the Wave get a versatile centerback who can push for playing time.

Round One Recap:

Even with Lia Godfrey’s injury this year, this is a very talented attacking midfield class. We see a lot of forwards get pushed down to round two, to make way for a strong pool of midfielders and defenders.

Round Two

2.01 – Bay FC – Brittany Raphino (Brown) – F

We don’t typically see many Ivy league players in the draft, but that’s sure to change soon. Raphino could easily find herself in round 1, but Bay FC find themselves a 5’10” forward with over 100 career points at the top of round two. The 2x Ivy League Offensive player of the year will pair nicely with Maya Doms.

2.02 – Utah Royals – Gracie Brian (TCU) – M

Remember that attacking midfielder depth we were talking about? We’ll here’s another example. The 5th year senior is just shy of the 100 career point mark, but she does have 101 career starts. Multiple time All Big 12, Utah finds a talented midfielder.

2.03 – Chicago Red Stars – Jody Brown (Florida State) – F

Jody Brown has been incredibly fun to watch in her time at Florida State. Chicago takes a winger who can stretch the field and open up space for Mal Pugh and Penelope Hocking.

2.04 – Kansas City Current- Peyton McNamara (Ohio State) – F

With such a banged-up midfield this past year, that is an area where KC could use a strong player to fill in the gaps. Peyton McNamara has been a staple for the Ohio State midfield over the last 4 years starting 52 of the 56 games she has played in. She is a consistent and reliable player who is also able to contribute goals from time to time. McNamara also represented Jamaica at the World Cup this past summer proving she has the ability to play at the highest level. She is skilled on the ball, and with the addition of having playing with KC defender Izzy Rodriguez at OSU, she would be a great fit. – Mickey

2.05 – Houston Dash – Catherine Barry (South Carolina) – F

Houston has the best defense in the NWSL, but they can’t score goals. Adding Barry gives them an option behind Diana Ordonez and Maria Sanchez who can produce on set pieces, and hopefully improve the team’s finishing.

2.06 – Washington Spirit – Kate Wiesner (Penn State) – M

Wiesner is an interesting prospect who’s positional versatility could prove to be a great asset at the next level. More of an attacking wing player at Penn State, Kate has also played a left back role on the US U-23 team. Washington gets defender and midfield depth with this selection.

2.07 – Washington Spirit – Brecken Mozingo (BYU) – F/M

After transferring from UCLA to BYU, Mozingo put up 100 points in 69 career starts. A true left footed threat on the wing, Mozingo is a player who can contribute with the pass or her shot.

2.08 – Orlando Pride – Becci Fluchel (Rutgers) – M

I’m quite high on Fluchel. Orlando needs to continue to add to the midfield and she can come in and push to get into the starting XI. Generally, I would be hyping up these picks, but I’m feeling things out based on team need. The scouting department will be looking at these players in their postseason tournaments. They will need a good showing to impress. – Luis

2.09 – Gotham FC – Anna Haddock (Auburn) – M

Despite starting 3 young midfielders, Gotham’s depth is all aging players. Mewis, Zerboni, Long, and Farrelly. Gotham could resign Torres post ACL injury. but Gotham needs depth. Another high soccer IQ, U-23 player. – Gary

2.10 – Portland Thorns – Eleanor Dale (Nebraska) – F

A list of players since 2015 that have scored more goals in a college soccer season than Dale has this year: Catarina Macario. End of list. And Dale still probably has 4+ more matches left to play this season! I don’t like making picks purely off of counting stats, but when you have the season Dale has had (she currently has a three goal cushion at the top of the NCAA goal leaderboard), you shoot up draft boards. Her (presumably) having to occupy an international slot complicates matters a little bit, but it’s impossible to ignore Dale’s continued growth as a forward over the last four years, seemingly adding a little more to her game every season. There are few players on more torrid form than the senior, who’s entering the Big Ten tournament having scored 10 goals in Nebraska’s last seven matches. A big showing on the national stage this postseason could push her up draft boards even further. – JJ

2.11 – OL Reign – Raegan Cox (Michigan State) – D

Cox is one of the better outside back prospects in this class. The Michigan State right back hasn’t had much offensive production in her career, but she’s a solid defensive presence who runs well, and can be used in a more offensive role if need be.

2.12 – North Carolina Courage- Lauren Flynn (Florida State) – D

While the Courage have a solid starting centerback pairing with Malia Berkely and Kaleigh Kurtz. Adding Lauren Flynn as another option to go along with Sydney Collins from last year’s draft will be a really solid core of defenders ready to step up when needed. As Collins has shown her strength at left-back as well, adding Lauren Flynn seems like an ideal choice to strengthen the depth of the Courage. – Tyler

2.13 – Portland Thorns – Emma Jaskaniec (Wisconsin) – M

When I think of Emma Jaskaniec two traits come to mind: versatility and toughness. Jaskaniec can do a bit of everything in the midfield, as she’s bounced around over the course of her career at Wisconsin from more defensive roles to a goal-scoring #10. And regardless of where she’s postioned, she’s a hustle player that’s not afraid to get involved in challenges. As Portland looks to fill out depth on their roster I think they’ll see a lot of value in a player like the fifth-year who can be an option in different spots across the center of the park without much additional training. – JJ

2.14 – Orlando Pride – Sam Kroeger (Rutgers) – M

You know who else I’m high on? Sam Kroeger. The Scarlet Knights were a bit of an underachiever in my mind this season, but I think there’s good talent in the middle of the pitch. Kroeger and Fluchel should provide more depth in the midfield. Coach Hines should be able to develop these younger players to buy in and contribute to the squad. – Luis

Round Two Recap:

Eleanor Dale is rumored to be going back overseas after her time at Nebraska is over, but if the Thorns can pick her up in the second round, it would be a great fit. We see a lot of forwards joining Dale in the second round, pushing a lot of defenders to the third.

Round Three

3.01 – Utah Royals – Talia Staude (Virginia) – D

The US-U23 defender ends her career at Virginia with 104 starts, and Utah gets an experienced centerback prospect to add to their core.

3.02 – Bay FC – Zoe Burns (USC) – D

Burns has a profile that could earn her a higher draft spot, but she finds herself in round three with fellow Canadian Amanda West. The defender can also play in the midfield, and her flexibility lets Bay FC use her at outside back or wherever their tactics dictate.

3.03 – Chicago Red Stars – Hal Hershfelt (Clemson) – M

Hershfelt is one of the best defensive midfield prospects in this class. The 4x All ACC midfielder has the pace and work rate to compete at the next level, and Chicago continues to improve.

3.04 – Kansas City Current- Amanda West (Pitt) – F

Amanda West had an incredible start to her collegiate career and scored six goals in six games last year before injury sidelined her. Now back for her fifth year, she is a clutch goal scorer who a team can rely on. She has eight goals on this season so far but also has eight assists showing that she can not only score but set up her teammates. Her stats are also fairly consistent across seasons which adds to the kind of player that she is. Reliable. KC needs another reliable goal scorer who they know can be in position and get things done. She would be a good player to fill that role. – Mickey

3.05 – Portland Thorns – Sunshine Fontes (UCLA) – M

Another pick where versatility is a key factor – Fontes is capable of lining up just about anywhere in the midfield, and even could play forward in a pinch as well. Between her steady passing, dead ball striking ability, and instincts as a box-crasher, there’s a lot to like in Fontes’ game. Playing for the defending national champion Bruins means she’s got plenty of experience in big games as well, a nice boost should she end up on a team like the Thorns with immediate title aspirations. – JJ

3.06 – Racing Louisville – Laney Rouse (Virginia) – D

The biggest need for Racing for the last 2 seasons has been depth at outside back. Rouse was part of a killer outside back duo at Virginia along with Samar Guidry before injury ended her season in this years season opener. Has played with the U14, U16, U19, and U20 US Youth National Teams. – Zach

3.07 – Washington Spirit – Hannah Anderson (Texas Tech) – D

Washington adds Anderson to pair with Bell and now have a very tall back line behind Sam Staab, who could maybe use a rest every once in a while. Hannah is a first team all Big 12 centerback who positions herself well and can distribute from the back.

3.08 – Houston Dash – Anna Podojil (Arkansas) – F

Houston adds the speedy Podojil to the wing to support Barry and attempt to create some space for chance creation. Anna is a 4x First Team All SEC forward, and has had one of the most productive careers of anyone in this draft. 135 career points on 101 career starts, she can play right away for Houston.

3.09 – Gotham FC – Leah Freeman (Duke) – GK

Gotham’s last pick. Let’s face it, Michelle Betos is free agent. Mandy Haught is going to be a hot commodity come the expansion draft. Gotham needs keeper depth. – Gary

3.10 – Angel City – Justina Gaynor (Michigan State) – M

Gaynor had an 11 assist season this year, and was first team all Big Ten last year. A tall, hard working midfielder adds to Angel City’s core.

3.11 – Chicago Red Stars – Laveni Vaka (BYU) – D

Vaka lands in Chicago and provides a strong, intelligent depth option at the centerback position.

3.12 – North Carolina Courage – Ally Cook (UCLA) – F

While the Courage currently has a large number of players that can play up top, they haven’t had a player that has really cemented that spot as their own. Tess Boade ended the season playing up top for the Courage. The Courage may have their eye on some of the forwards that went earlier in this draft like Reilyn Turner and Catherine Barry, but if Ally Cook drops this deep I could see them taking a chance. – Tyler

3.13 – Portland Thorns – Ava Tankersley (Arkansas) – F

Arkansas’ high pressure system makes physical tools and effort a must, and Tankersley is no exception. Standing at 5’11, Tankersley certainly looks the part of an NWSL forward, but her height is far from the only element of her game. She’s been a balanced creator and scorer of goals her entire career (this fall is actually the first year since her freshman season that she’s had more goals than assists) and before InStat shuttered its doors over the summer was a frequent favorite of its underlying numbers. – JJ

3.14 – San Diego Wave – Olivia Wade-Katoa (BYU) – M

A few of these BYU selections are sure to end up in Utah, but it just hasn’t happened so far. Wade-Katoa played an attacking midfield role next to Jaime Shepard at BYU and impressed with her goal scoring ability.

Round Three Recap –

Leah Freeman is the first keeper off the board, and rightfully so. A few more keepers go in round four below, but Madison White, Hope Hisey and Allie Augur are a few other names to watch.

Round Four

4.01 – Bay FC – Ryan Campbell (Stanford) – GK

Campbell is the second keeper taken, and her incredibly high save percentage (85%) leads to her selection here. Both expansion teams could (and should) use a late round pick on a keeper.

4.02 – Utah Royals – Meg Boade (Northwestern) – M

Boade ends her Northwestern career with an incredible 14 assists in her senior season. First team all Big Ten last year and sure to win the same accolade this year.

4.03 – Chicago Red Stars – Kiki Van Zanten (Notre Dame) – M

Van Zanten in the third Jamaican National Team player taken in this draft (Jody Brown, Peyton McNamara), and Chicago continues to add to their midfield. Kiki really emerged the last two years as a play maker for the Irish.

4.04 – Kansas City Current – Abi Brighton (Vanderbilt) – M

During her time at Vanderbilt, Brighton started 74 of the 73 matches proving right from the start that she is a grounding and consistent player. In most of those matches she has also played a full 90 minutes/ Another midfielder might be a confusing choice but with the injuries KC faced and lots of international players who may be off and on I think that beefing up the midfield is going to benefit them. Brighton is able to score and assist goals but really is helpful in holding down the midfield. – Mickey

4.05 – Houston Dash – Ellie Wheeler (Penn State) – D

Wheeler can play centerback or left back for Houston, and after going more attacking in the first few rounds, Houston adds to their back line here.

4.06 – Racing Louisville – Jamie Shepherd (BYU) – M

Shepherd is the all time leader for BYU in starts and appearances (99) after staying on for an extra season due to Covid 19. Shepherd does not have a lot of flashy stats but has been a strong presence in the midfield during her time at BYU, helping the team reach a #6 ranking this season. While I would not expect her to be gunning for Howells spot any time soon, the second half of this last season showed how important depth can be and I think Shepherd could be a solid backup in the 6 position for the team. – Zach

4.07 – Washington Spirit – Nia Christopher (Towson) – F

The starting forward for the Bermuda National team has had a terrific collegiate career. Back to back to back 13 goal seasons, 97 points in 62 career games, Christopher is one of a few small school prospects we could see go in this years draft. The others? Gianna Gourley, Ashley Barron, Mya Jones, Abbie Miller, and Heather Stainbrook to name a few.

4.08 – Orlando Pride – Lauren Kellett (TCU) – GK

Let’s be honest here. The Pride signed Anna Moorhouse to a new deal so selecting a goalkeeper is probably not going to happen. I just think Orlando needs to freshen up this position because I feel this is a spot that can be upgraded. Bring in someone who can push the starters is the theme here. – Luis

4.09 – Orlando Pride – Emily Moxley (North Carolina) – D

Realistically, I have a doubt that Orlando will have these fourth round picks because I can see the team dealing and wheeling to move up or get some sort of protection to the expansion draft. That being said, look for the Pride to select best available here where I land on Emily Moxley. She reminds me of someone in the same vein as Haley McCutcheon on the team. She can play in the backline or push up into the midfield. – Luis

4.10 – Angel City – Margie Detrizio (Washington State) – F

Detrizio flys under the radar a bit, but it’s hard to see a team passing on her skill set. She can be used up top or on the wing, isn’t afraid to shoot, and her dribbling and ball control make her too tempting for Angel City to pass up.

4.11 – OL Reign – Onyi Echegini (Florida State) – M

Sure to move up after she was named ACC Offensive Player of the Year, Echegini has done a great job during her tenure at Florida State. The midfielder was a key piece on a talented team, and her ability to create chances and score can’t be overlooked. Though like Eleanor Dale earlier, Echegini might go the WSL route.

4.12 – North Carolina Courage – Payton Linnehan (Penn State) – F

With Kerolin recovering from an ACL injury, adding extra depth on the right wing is a smart option. Especially when a player as talented as Linnehan is available this late in the draft. – Tyler

4.13 – Portland Thorns – Stephanie Sparkowski (Michigan) – GK

Admittedly, the sample size of performance is smaller than most players in this draft, given Sparkowski has only started one full season. But what a season it’s been for Sparkowski, who’s consistency in net has helped Michigan push for the NCAA tournament. Teams very rarely start rookie goalkeepers, but with the second to last pick in the draft its worth a shot to take a flyer on a player with one of the best xG faced – xG conceded splits in the nation. – JJ

4.14 – San Diego Wave – Shyra James (Colorado) – F

If you can get the Pac-12’s leading scorer in the 4th round, go for it. 13 goals this season and 38 in her career, James is a talented finisher who finds space well, and can provide attacking depth for the Wave.

Round Four Recap –

A lot of talent still around in the fourth round and plenty more is still on the board. It should be interesting to see how the USL S fills it’s rosters with the players remaining for their inaugural season.

The Post-Season Dossier should be out later this month, and the next mock draft will take into account all of the recent conference awards and will be out in mid-late December. Keep an eye out, and thanks for reading!

Working to cover and predict the NWSL draft earlier than it ever has been before. Make sure to check out our other articles, and The Dossier, a list of NWSL draft prospects!