Today was the dispersal draft to unwind the Boston Breakers following their unfortunate demise over the weekend. Draft order was randomly determined using a weighted system that gave preference to clubs which missed out on the playoffs in 2017, and a snake system was implemented to reverse the order of each ensuing round. Seattle received the third, 16th, 21st and 34th overall picks in yesterday’s lottery, and clubs were permitted to trade picks prior to the draft. Sky Blue FC received the first pick overall.
In a move just before the draft, Seattle traded their first-round pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft to Orlando in exchange for two additional picks in today’s draft — the 8th and 11th overall picks, suggesting that the Reign saw some value in the middle of the draft that could significantly improve their chances in the 2018 season.
Washington Spirit and Sky Blue also made a swap, giving the Spirit the first overall pick and Sky Blue the second in exchange for some 2019 draft picks going to Sky Blue. As expected, U.S. National Team up-and-comer Rose Lavelle was selected first overall, with 2018 draftee Savannah McCaskill selected second.
The draft was conducted by conference call, with results tweeted by the league as they came in. With their picks, Seattle selected Megan Oyster, Elizabeth Addo, Morgan Andrews, Christen Westphal, and the rights to Lindsay Elston.
“We are very happy with the outcome of the draft, despite the unfortunate circumstances under which it occurred,” said Seattle Reign FC head coach Vlatko Andonovski in a club release. “Matt Beard and Lee Billiard should be commended for assembling a terrific group of players — it seems only right to acknowledge their efforts.”
Oyster was selected by Seattle with the third pick. She was drafted 13th overall by the Washington Spirit in 2015 and made 38 appearances for them over two seasons, scoring one goal. She was traded to Boston prior to the 2017 season as part of a trade involving Kristie Mewis going to the Spirit. She appeared in all but one match for the Breakers last season, and also earned a call-up to the U.S. National Team, earning her first senior team cap in a friendly against Russia. She can play centrally in defense or as a defensive midfielder.
Addo, a Ghanaian international forward, was a surprise name on the list of eligible players for the draft, since her signing was finalized but had not been publicly announced by Boston prior to their ownership crisis. She’s young and can bring a great deal of speed to the attack. For the past two years she played for Kvarnsvendens IK in the Swedish Damallsvenskan, making 29 appearances and scoring 7 goals. Prior to that she played in Hungary, Serbia, and Nigeria. She has 25 caps for the Ghana National Team, with 10 goals scored.
Although she is an international, the Reign will be given an additional international slot for the 2018 season if she stays with the team.
Andrews, the third overall pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, was a stand-out at the University of Southern California, where she helped lead the team to the 2016 NCAA College Cup. She had 47 appearances over two years for USC and scored 22 goals. With the Breakers she primarily played as a midfielder, making 18 appearances last season. She also has extensive experience with the U.S. Youth National Team system, earning caps at the U-15, U-17 and U-20 levels, plus a call-up to U-23 camp while she was still only 16 years old.
If that wasn’t enough, she briefly served as the kicker for her high school football team.
Further bolstering their defensive depth, Seattle selected defender Christen Westphal with the 16th pick in the dispersal draft. She was originally selected by Boston with the third overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, and started almost immediately for the Breakers after signing. She made 26 appearances over the past two seasons and scored one goal, but battled injuries for long stretches of last season. She does well in an outside fullback / wingback role, similar to how Seattle has utilized their outside backs in past seasons.
Each club was permitted to select up to four players in the dispersal draft, but as the selections wound down, several clubs also picked retired players as a friendly gesture to their history. Seattle picked Elston, who was traded to the Breakers in the middle of 2017 but opted to retire from play. Similarly, the Chicago Red Stars selected Whitney Engen, who is currently in law school but made her professional debut with the club in 2010. Neither is expected to return for 2018, and they would be on-cap players who require a roster spot if they did return.
Aside from Elston, the four players selected today will not count against Seattle’s roster limit or salary cap for the coming season, meaning the Reign could potentially carry 24 active players for the 2018 season and significantly bolster their depth and versatility.
“The demands of the 24-match season, coupled with our expectation that several key players may miss long stretches of the season on international duty, shaped our decision to expand our roster beyond 20 this season and our choice to trade with Orlando for their picks,” said Andonovski. “The four selections in the draft help us this season by adding significant depth to the squad and have the added benefit of helping us manage the potential impact of an expansion draft before the 2019 season. We went in believing we could get four strong players in the draft and walked away thrilled with the results. We are excited for camp to begin in a few weeks.”
Full results of the dispersal draft are available at the NWSL website.