NWSL drafts: Live updates, picks, trades and expert analysis from the expansion and college drafts — Naomi Girma goes No. 1 – The Athletic

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live
NWSL newcomers Angel City and San Diego Wave kick off two virtual drafts in a span of three days with the league's expansion draft on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET (TV: CBS Sports Network; streaming: Paramount+, CBS Sports HQ on Twitch and YouTube). You can find the full list of protected players and teams with immunity here.

Then on Saturday, the college draft will begin at 2 p.m. ET (TV: CBS Sports Network; streaming on Paramount+, CBS Sports HQ Twitch and YouTube channels, NWSL YouTube channel). The full draft order can be found here. And the full list of players registered for the draft can be found here.

Join Meg Linehan and Steph Yang for updates and analysis throughout the NWSL drafting extravaganza.

(Photo: Lyndsay Radnedge/ISI Photos)
December 18, 2021 at 7:45 PM EST
On the Thorns' approach to the 2022 draft: We looked for players who have versatility, who are definitely not just for now, but also players we think we can develop into real stars in this league. So we looked at a whole bunch of different sort of metrics of what we want, what we thought would help take this team to another level.

On having to replace Simone Charley and Tyler Lussi: I do think it's important to talk about the players that we have lost because they're special, special people and also special players and they're really, really hard to replace. In fact, some of them are irreplaceable, because we know we've got to develop young talent that comes in. It would be an untruth to say it's not a reaction (to losing Charley and Lussi) because there were gaps in our team that we had to look at. And I think we filled some of those in this draft.

On her philosophy in helping rookies bridge the jump from NCAA to pro: You cannot predict the jump for most of these players. We all know that. What you do is the best you think in terms of what you think they need to have in order to make that jump. I think for me, we look at it as who do we need, who can be developed. You try your best to not have to have them start straightaway for you because it is such a big jump. And we're aware of that and we think it's only right that we do our best to try and nurture them and bring them through the system so they're ready to play at the the top level.

On drafting Sydny Nasello, who fans pointed out has liked various troubling xenophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic tweets, and not aligning with GM Karina LeBlanc's description of the Thorns as "purpose-driven": I think it's important that I state that this is an inclusive, open club that values its fans and knows what we stand for. This is someone that we did a lot of due diligence on in terms of what we do as as a club, but as a first year head coach and – yeah, these are these are gonna come across as excuses – but I do need to hold my hand up and be responsible for not doing the work needed on the social media side. Definitely a piece that we're going to be working with this young lady and getting to know her. But thankfully, we are part of a club, an organization, that's very clear on where we stand on social issues like this. And I'm proud of that piece. And I aligned with our GM (Karina Leblanc) in her statements about who we are and that mission and purpose. So for now, I'm going to leave it but we're definitely very early in our relationship and it's going to be something that we address.
December 18, 2021 at 7:35 PM EST
A busy week despite only one draft pick today: "It's been an incredibly busy week. The last couple of days have probably been the busiest two days I've had since I've been at the Dash. When I look at what we've done and where we are with what we have, I'm really happy. I think we've strengthened the squad and we've still got a lot of work to do. Some big pieces that we want to add, and we're continuing to work it out, but if you look at the two trades with Julia Ashley and Kelci Hedge, they were two former first round pick that we've added. We've got (forward) Joelle Anderson coming in — we drafted her last year, but it's like a new player coming in. We got Ryan (Gareis) in the draft. We've just spoken to her and we're really excited about that pick. We didn't actually think that she would be anywhere near us."

On what he was doing until the Dash's pick: "Asking myself that exact same question. It's marvelous for the players — it's an incredible day, and excitement for them, and having just seen how excited Ryan is to be joining us, it makes that four and a half hours worthwhile."

On the Kristie Mewis expansion draft pick: "No, we only had contact (with the Wave) after the trade deadline, when the window was closed. So a little bit unfortunate because we could have done it and then be protected. … At once stage we didn't think that Kristie was going to get selected, but we're not surprised. Disappointed. We wish her all the best. It's been a great journey with her over the last three years, and to see her career continue to develop and grow and start playing at a different level. We've played a small part in that, and we're happy for her. … We've got to focus on the Dash, we've got to move forward. With that money (from the expansion draft), then the money we got from trading the sixth pick, I think we're in a position — we're in negotiations with a number of players — to see how we can invest that to continue to strengthen the team."
December 18, 2021 at 7:04 PM EST
Angel City FC: Hope Breslin (M, Illinois), Lily Nabet (M, Duke), Miri Taylor (F, Hofstra)

Chicago Red Stars: Ava Cook (F, Michigan), Sammi Fisher (M, Notre Dame), Sarah Griffith (F, Purdue), Kayla McKeon (M, Arkansas), Jayda Hylton-Pelaia (D, Arizona)

Houston Dash: Ryan Gareis (F, USC)

Kansas City Current: Elyse Bennett (F, Washington), Chardonnay Curran (M, Oregon), Jenna Winebrenner (D, TCU), Izzy Rodriguez (D, Ohio)

NJ/NY Gotham FC: Kelly Ann Livingstone (D, Georgetown), Hensley Hancuff (GK, Clemson), Raleigh Loughman (M, Michigan)

North Carolina Courage: Emily Gray (M, Virginia Tech), Diana Ordoñez (F, Virginia), Kaitlin Fregulia (D, Long Beach), Haleigh Stackpole (F/M, Ole Miss), Marisa Bova (GK, Purdue)

OL Reign: Zsani Kajan (F, St. John's), Claudia Dickey (GK, UNC), Ryanne Browne (F, Wake Forest), Kaile Halvorsen (F/M, Santa Clara), Olivia Van der Jagt (M, Washington), Marley Canales (M, UCLA)

Orlando Pride: Mia Fishel (F, UCLA), Caitlin Cosme (D, Duke), Julie Doyle (F, Santa Clara), Jada Talley (F, USC)

Portland Thorns: Sydny Nasello (F, South Florida), Gabby Provenzano (M/D, Rutgers), Natalie Beckman (F, Denver)

Racing Louisville FC: Jaelin Howell (M, FSU), Savannah DeMelo (M, USC), Charmé Morgan (D, Oklahoma), Jordyn Bloomer (GK, Wisconsin), Jenna Menta (F, Wake Forest), Sydney Cummings (D, Georgetown)

San Diego Wave: Naomi Girma (D, Stanford), Marleen Schimmer (F/M, Grand Canyon), Sydney Pulver (M/D, Washington), Belle Briede (F/M, Stanford), Kayla Bruster (D, Georgia)

Washington Spirit: Tinaya Alexander (F, LSU), Madison Elwell (F/M, Vanderbilt), Lucy Shepherd (F/M, Hofstra), Audrey Harding (F, UNC Wilmington), Jordan Thompson (D, Gonzaga)
December 18, 2021 at 6:47 PM EST
On picking goalkeeper Claudia Dickey: I think Claudia is already, probably out of all of the picks that we got, she's the one that I was most familiar with, from having that (USWNT U-20) job. And she started for me at the U-20s. She was someone I think has huge potential. And I think we're really happy with the fact that we've got three young goalkeepers in Phallon (Tullis-Joyce), in Ella (Dederick), in Claudia. We actually have signed Laurel Ivory as well on who's on our discovery list. So we knew that with Sara (Bouhaddi) leaving we needed to find a number one and I believe within that group that we have one.

On picking Kaile Halvorsen: I actually watched Kaile Halvorsen play for a long time. I actually used to watch her play in Hawaii and at high school…. She just has some traits that I think you can't coach. Her ability to break away from people, her ability to be able to use her physical speed and presence, it's something that has stood out to me a lot. I've watched a lot of Santa Clara games this year. And I always felt that when she was on the field, she made some of the big hitters in that team, the Turnbows and Izzies and everyone else in that roster, stand out. I think she works really hard without the ball, she presses, which we love to do. And her speed is something that again, I wish I had it, but I don't. But all the other stuff that I think we have to make Kaile better at, we can coach
December 18, 2021 at 6:35 PM EST
On their draft goals: We made offers, I think, for every single pick, except for one. We were making offers all along the way to try and get in and do some different things. And so I'm very happy all of these worked out extremely well for us. But it was really just trying to get in there. We had three main things that we wanted to hit for our team and so we've we've now covered all those.

What the Spirit need from their draft picks: Filling out the attacking core with an eye to the fact that the national teamers are probably due to be gone for a fair amount of the season right now, looking at parts of preseason and then in July for qualifying and things like that. So that's one aspect. And then for (Madison) Elwell making sure we're covered after we lost Tegan (McGrady) to San Diego so that was that was a big one of she can play anywhere along the left hand side. I've been telling her college coach, I was wanting to get her last year. We tried to work out a deal even before the draft to try and get her rights but it wasn't to be so I was happy we were able to get her, but it's just just cover there. And then just again, so many of our attackers are in demand right now. They're in really good form. Creating even more competition there I think is only going to make them better. But then also looking at the moments when we're going to be without them.
December 18, 2021 at 6:24 PM EST
On Gotham FC making moves ahead of the draft to set themselves up: We think next year is going to be an exceptionally deep draft. We also signed Cameron Tucker, which we believe would have been a top eight pick this year in the draft, so we felt like we got one. We do have a contract offer out to another player that's extremely young that's still in college…that we also believe is probably a first round draft pick. And so we just felt that we done some good business and we have some top top special talent coming in.

On Gotham FC's signings: We had positional needs in center back and goalkeeper and we then just make an educated guess based on the talent that was in this draft where we think they'd go and where we think they land. And, and right now, we're making the staff look like geniuses with a crystal ball because the two players that we wanted, we got.

December 18, 2021 at 6:11 PM EST
We're already past the time the draft was expected to end, but the fourth round is a go. Here are the picks, as they happen.

Rd. 4, pick 1 (#39) | Angel City FC | Miri Taylor, forward, Hofstra
Rd. 4, pick 2 (#40) | San Diego Wave FC | Kayla Bruster, defender, Georgia
Rd. 4, pick 3 (#41) | Kansas City Current | Jenna Winebrenner, defender, TCU
Rd. 4, pick 4 (#42) | Racing Louisville FC | Sydney Cummings, defender, Georgetown
Rd. 4, pick 5 (#43) | Kansas City Current | Izzy Rodrihuez, defender, Ohio State
Rd. 4, pick 6 (#44) | Houston Dash | Ryan Gareis, forward, South Carolina
Rd. 4, pick 7 (#45) | North Carolina Courage | Marisa Bova, goalkeeper, Purdue
Rd. 4, pick 8 (#46) | NJ/NY Gotham FC | Raleigh Loughman, midfielder, Michigan
Rd. 4, pick 9 (#47) | OL Reign | Marley Canales, midfielder, UCLA
Rd. 4, pick 10 (#48) | Portland Thorns FC | Natalie Beckman, forward, Denver
Rd. 4, pick 11 (#49) | Chicago Red Stars | Jayda Hylton-Pelaia defender, Arizona State
Rd. 4, pick 12 (#50) Washington Spirit | Jordan Thompson, defender, Gonzaga

Congratulations. We have all survived the NWSL Draft!
December 18, 2021 at 5:39 PM EST
On today's selections: "Very happy with our picks. First pick is a forward that we think can be battling to be an immediate impact-type player. Elyse (Bennett) is strong, can get behind the lines, powerful, and a Midwest player. We're excited to have another forward on our roster. Chardonnay (Curran) — again, a physical, strong player, but one of the important factors of Chardonnay is her versatility. Somebody that can fit into the midfield for us, or anywhere at the back as well. The nice part of both of these players is I know the college coaches very well, and they both come highly recommended from people I know and trust."

On the Current's future: "Part of my role right now is to provide the next coach of this team the options to create a team that's difficult to match up against. Having players that can get behind the line … play versatile as well, that can play multiple positions, it gives our coach more options and also makes our team a little bit harder to plan for as well."
December 18, 2021 at 5:32 PM EST
On the team's roster status heading in 2022: "I said this on the day I was hired — I don't mean this disrespectfully, I don't like the word rebuild. I look at it as a sort of revamping. If you looked at our season at the end of last year, the depth, a lot of the players have been with the team a long time. For us, that was important. Obviously, we had to get a little bit younger as well in terms of the the age bracket and where we want it, but also bring players that fit wha we want to do, that have good ideas, and are able to play the way we want to play. We understand we've gotten younger, but we still have a good core that can help bring these players along. So it's a combination. When the team came and rebuilt as the Courage, revamped in 2015 from the Flash, I think that that's sort of what got them going. We did want to look at the future as well, and one of those big things was making sure we add depth to our roster. From a training perspective, just the level of competition and development, and to give us a bit more variety in what we want to do on the weekends."

On the strategy for picks vs. trades: "There were discussions (around trades), but I think at the end of the day, we had a look at what we really wanted, and the guarantees of what we needed to get. We don't want to lose those opportunities. We thought that it became a risk if we didn't get the main part … Once Diana (Ordoñez) fell to us at six, then it probably the quickest we've put in a pick. Sorry to everybody for the two timeouts. There were definitely discussions, but we wanted to make sure we went with the guarantee than take a risk."
December 18, 2021 at 5:10 PM EST
The Orlando Pride traded their 3rd round pick (#29) overall to the North Carolina Courage. In exchange, the Pride received the rights to Canadian international Deanne Rose.

Round 3 begins now:

Rd 3, pick 1 (#27) | San Diego Wave | Belle Briede, midfielder/forward, Stanford
Rd 3, pick 2 (#28) | Angel City | Hope Breslin, midfielder, Illinois
Rd 3, pick 3 (#29) | NC Courage | Haleigh Stackpole, midfielder/forward, Ole Miss
Rd 3, pick 4 (#30) | Racing Louisville | Jenna Menta, forward, Wake Forest
Rd 3, pick 5 (#31) | Orlando Pride | Jada Talley, forward, USC
Rd 3, pick 6 (#32) | OL Reign | Kaile Halvorsen, midfielder/forward, Santa Clara
Rd 3, pick 7 (#33) | OL Reign | Olivia Van Der Jagt, midfielder, Washington
Rd 3, pick 8 (#34) | Gotham FC | Hensley Hancuff, goalkeeper, Clemson
Rd 3, pick 9 (#35) | Chicago Red Stars | Sarah Griffith, forward, Purdue
Rd 3, pick 10 (#36) | Angel City | Lily Nabet, midfielder, Duke
Rd 3, pick 11 (#37) | Chicago Red Stars | Kayla McKeon, midfielder, Arkansas
Rd 3, pick 12 (#38) | Washington Spirit | Audrey Harding, forward, UNC-Wilmington
December 18, 2021 at 5:07 PM EST
On Mia Fishel going #5: "We were actually trying to position a different pick, a higher pick to ensure we got her. Obviously there's other picks that we were interested in. But for her to drop to five was a surprise to us. So super excited, obviously, great value for the fifth pick. Everyone had her as a top three probably, at number three, that we talked to and what we thought might how it might shake out so she's a tremendous player professional through and through. She's a student of the game coming out after her third year. There's so much room for growth still, but she also knows kind of what her goals and plans are and that's to be on the national team one day and be an impact player on the national team."

On potential trades to move up the order: "There's a lot of moving parts that involve multiple teams. As the fifth pick, we had something to work with, obviously, but we were talking about different scenarios. (Naomi) Girma going first, everyone knew that. Jaelin (Howell) is a player that we were really interested in. She played at Florida State, someone I (tried to) recruit, she almost came to UCLA. Trying to maneuver to get as many of the top elite players we could — those were all the conversations with Ian (Fleming) our GM, and our staff, and multiple teams involved. Ultimately it played out and we got a player we really wanted."

More to come following today's trade with OL Reign: "There's still some a few things in the works right now. We're talking to teams to add to the depth of our backline."
December 18, 2021 at 4:23 PM EST

Zsani Kajan, drafted #8 by OL Reign: "I want to bring my energy and my style of playing soccer. I just want to show the team didn't make a wrong decision by picking me. I just always want to win."

Marleen Schimmer, picked #9 by San Diego: "For me, I have to say (NWSL and Bundesliga) are completely different, like the soccer in Europe and the soccer in the states are two worlds. But I like it here, I like the intensity. It's way more athletic. It's faster, it's quicker. You have to make decisions so quickly. In Europe you have time. It's more tactical and technical, but here I just love the intensity."

Caitlin Cosme, picked #10 by Orlando: "I am so excited. I am in shock, sweating profusely. This is an amazing opportunity, and I am so grateful that Orlando has watched me over the seasons and took a chance on me. I'm excited. I've been in Orlando's stadium once for a Final Four and it was incredible. You know, I think fans can just look forward to someone with a voice. I'm really loud. I'm really in your face. I like to push other people and I'm young and I'm just looking forward to being a sponge, getting as much information as I can and learning anything that I can."

Kaitlin Fregulia, picked #12 by NC Courage: "It starts off with exposure and stuff. I mean, the smaller schools maybe don't necessarily get the exposure as the SEC or the teams that are always in the NCAA tournament and stuff, but Division I soccer has so much depth in it. There're amazing players at every organization. So I just think the fact that I was given that opportunity and looked at, it's just huge. I don't even have words to express it."
December 18, 2021 at 3:41 PM EST
The second round is happening now — we'll update with each pick.

Big trade with the San Diego Wave sent the No. 14 pick to the Spirit, in exchange for $85,000 in allocation money. The Spirit also traded for the No. 15 pick with OL Reign for another $85,000 in allocation money. The Spirit went for a third trade in this round for the No. 23 pick with the Chicago Red Stars too — this one for $25,000 in allocation money and their highest 2023 second-round pick.

Rd. 2, pick 1 (#13) | Portland Thorns FC | Sydny Nasello, forward, USF
Rd. 2, pick 2 (#14) | Washington Spirit | Tinaya Alexander, forward, LSU
Rd. 2, pick 3 (#15) | Washington Spirit | Madison Elwell, midfielder/forward, Vanderbilt
Rd. 2, pick 4 (#16) | Racing Louisville FC | Charmé Morgan, defender, Oklahoma State
Rd. 2, pick 5 (#17) | Kansas City Current | Chardonnay Curran, midfielder, Oregon
Rd. 2, pick 6 (#18) | Chicago Red Stars | Ava Cook, forward, Michigan State
Rd. 2, pick 7 (#19) | Chicago Red Stars | Sammi Fisher, midfielder, Notre Dame
Rd. 2, pick 8 (#20) | OL Reign | Claudia Dickey, goalkeeper, UNC
Rd. 2, pick 9 (#21) | OL Reign | Ryanne Brown, forward, Wake Forest
Rd. 2, pick 10 (#22) | Portland Thorns FC | Gabby Provenzano, defender/midfielder, Rutgers
Rd. 2, pick 11 (#23) | Washington Spirit | Lucy Shepherd, forward/midfielder, Hofstra
Rd. 2, pick 12 (#24) | NJ/NY Gotham FC | Kelly Ann Livingstone, defender, Georgetown
Rd. 2, pick 13 (#25) | San Diego Wave | Sydney Pulver, midfielder, Washington State
Rd. 2, pick 14 (#26) | Racing Louisville FC | Jordyn Bloomer, goalkeeper, Wisconsin

December 18, 2021 at 3:36 PM EST
When UVA forward Diana Ordoñez entered the 2022 NWSL draft, she decided to forego her senior year of NCAA eligibility in order to declare. As more players give up eligibility in order to go pro, it perhaps signals a further shift in the general mindset about the relative stability and safety of the NCAA versus a young league like NWSL that has seen its fair share of upheaval, but which is nevertheless expanding its footprint. When asked how she weighed NCAA versus NWSL, Ordoñez said:

"I think the NCAA is a great place for development and I've heard from a lot of coaches in making this decision that in the NWSL, you're not really looking as at much as individual development. You kind of have to be already almost towards the top of your game, I guess. I know the amount of games that there are in the (NWSL) season, that is expanding, which is making more room for development, which I think is really good, especially for younger players coming in just to not necessarily be counted out as a rookie. I think the nature of having a few more games gives a little bit more room for development. So I think that's an exciting thing about the expansion of the league."

December 18, 2021 at 3:31 PM EST
Long Beach State defender Kaitlin Fregulia heads to North Carolina with the final pick of the first round, adding in some depth for the Courage on the backline.

It's the end of the first round, a cool 90 minutes after the NWSL draft started.
December 18, 2021 at 3:31 PM EST
After a fairly steady first round with a lot of sensible choices from teams with clear positional needs, the picks are in. Here's the first round from the 2022 NWSL College Draft:

December 18, 2021 at 3:22 PM EST
Forward Julie Doyle out of Santa Clara is also heading to Orlando, with the second of their back-to-back picks here at the tail end of the first round. Both Leslie Osborne and Aly Wagner (also Santa Clara products) are speaking highly of her one-on-one abilities, and she's got national championship experience under her belt.
With the 11th pick in the 1st Round of the 2022 #NWSLdraft, the Orlando Pride selects Julie Doyle of Santa Clara. #AdAstra pic.twitter.com/J1t1RU2LrB
December 18, 2021 at 3:14 PM EST
Instead of picking at #10, OL Reign have elected to trade the pick to the Orlando Pride in exchange for Orlando's 2023 natural second round pick and a player to be named. The Pride received the #10 pick and two players to be named. With that #10 pick, the Pride selected Duke defender Caitlin Cosme. For a team that needs some defensive depth and more ability to target their forwards, Cosme could be just what they need as a center back with range.
With the 10th pick in the 1st Round of the 2022 #NWSLdraft, the Orlando Pride selects Caitlin Cosme of Duke. #AdAstra pic.twitter.com/HOMpiGrNKd
December 18, 2021 at 3:11 PM EST
Just announced on the broadcast: OL Reign receives Orlando's 2023 natural second round pick and a player to be named, the Pride receive today's 10th pick from OL Reign and 2 players to be named.

According to sources, the player heading to Seattle is defender Phoebe McClernon.

Update, 4:56 p.m. ET — OL Reign has named the two players traded: forward Leah Pruitt and defender Celia.
December 18, 2021 at 3:05 PM EST
With the #9 pick in the 2022 NWSL College Draft, the San Diego Wave picked Grand Canyon forward and German international Marleen Schimmer. Schimmer initially played for Arizona State but transferred to Grand Canyon her junior year and has good positional flexibility as a forward. Again, San Diego already has quite a complement of forwards, so this points either to asking players for some positional flexibility or Casey Stoney building out her midfield through careful trades and signings.

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