The National Women’s Soccer League will host its ninth annual draft on Wednesday. Despite the challenges that the pandemic has placed on the league, including requesting a waiver from NCAA and getting rid of the registration requirement, the draft will commence with eyes on the next inflow of talent potentially heading into the league.
When the NWSL announced that its board of governors voted to expand the draft-eligible pool of collegiate athletes by waiving the requirement for senior collegiate athletes to register for the draft, it automatically made all players who exhausted three years of intercollegiate soccer eligibility prior to the 2020-2021 academic year eligible. Then again, registration remains a necessity for any and all athletes who differently meet the league’s eligibility requirements, but aren’t captured in the current eligibility change. Registration has also remained an option for those athletes who do meet the definition of “senior.”
Some top prospects have already moved on to signal with teams out of the country, opting to begin their careers in Europe. But the incoming draft class has several potential prospects who could be stars in the league. Let’s check out some of those from the registered player list who could be selected in the first round.
1. Brianna Pinto (North Carolina)
The Tar Heel recently announced she would be turning pro. She’ll enter the NWSL Draft and is among the players likely to use the NCAA waiver to go back to UNC to total her collegiate season and then outline to her eventual NWSL team.
The North Carolina local has had an impressive career to date both at the collegiate level and with U.S. Soccer youth programs, having competed in the 2016 U-17 and 2018 U-20 Women’s World Cups. She used to be voted 2019 U.S. youth soccer player of the year after she started all 27 games she played for Carolina, scoring 11 goals and recording six assists.
Her selection on any team would be an instantaneous addition, particularly for teams currently in the course of building out rosters or redefining their team cultures, but Pinto would likely thrive in an established system.
2. Kiki Pickett (Stanford)
A versatile out of doors back who has played in all places the pitch throughout her career, Pickett is leaving in the back of an impressive run of success at Stanford. She won two NCAA championships in 2017 and 2019 and is a three time Pac-12 champion. She earned All-Pac-12 first team honors in 2019 when she started 25 games, scored two goals and recorded nine assists on a run to a national championship.
The California local also has extensive experiences on the U.S. youth national program as a member of the U-20 side, and is a player that could slot in at quite a lot of positions for teams having a look to add depth or flesh out their formation immediately.
3. Trinity Rodman (Washington State)
The goal scoring U-20 standout has attracted attention with her offensive capabilities, having scored eight goals and six assists as the team went on to win the 2020 CONCACAF U-20 women’s championship, including scoring twice in the championship last that led the U.S. past Mexico, 4-1.
Her performance made her probably the most highly sought-after prospects, and her final name has introduced an added a story as Rodman is the daughter of Michelle and Dennis Rodman — a former NBA champion and Basketball Corridor of Famer. Rodman used to be set to embark on her freshman year with Washington State, then again the pandemic quickly altered things and she did not make an appearance for the Cougars. Her ability on the ball and knack for goal could make her a solid pickup for a team having a look to build with a forward through continued development.