The 2020 NWSL College Draft takes place today in Baltimore at the United Soccer Coaches convention, starting at 8:00 AM PT. Reign FC currently holds two picks, in the first and fourth rounds (9th and 33rd overall, respectively). The draft will be broadcast on the league website, YouTube channel, Facebook page and Twitter.
There has been a lot of activity surrounding the draft in the past week. Most notably, Portland Thorns FC traded USWNT defender Emily Sonnett, the rights to Australian international Caitlin Foord, and two later picks to the Orlando Pride for the first overall pick, which is expected to be Stanford forward Sophia Smith. We also saw the first trade of NWSL allocation money for a draft pick when Utah Royals FC sent an undisclosed amount (rumored to be $60k) to Chicago for the 8th overall pick.
As a reminder of how we got to this point, Reign FC traded their natural first-round pick (6th overall) to the Chicago Red Stars in exchange for an extra international slot in 2019. Reign FC’s second round pick was sent to Portland as part of the trade in which they acquired Allie Long. Their third-round pick was sent to Chicago last week, along with a 2021 first-round pick, in exchange for the 9th overall pick today.
Reign FC currently has 23 players under contract, with six additional players (Michelle Betos, Lydia Williams, Lauren Barnes, Christen Westphal, Rumi Utsugi and Jess Fishlock) out-of-contract but tendered new offers. All four of their international slots for 2020 are currently occupied (Steph Catley, Celia Jiménez Delgado, Rebecca Quinn and Rosie White), but they will be able to open a spot if Quinn is designated as a Federation Player by the Canadian Soccer Association for 2020 as expected.
The team’s strategy for this draft will depend on some unknowns: which out-of-contract players they expect to return, whether their yet-to-be-unveiled new coach will want to use a similar 4-2-3-1 tactical strategy or shake things up, how the 2021 expansion draft will work, and whether they can work out any trades for some of their current overabundance of players to open some roster spots. The team seems reasonably set at goalkeeper and forward, but even if most players return they will want to bolster their depth at midfield and in defense, where an aging core will eventually start showing signs of decline.
To help scout potential players, All White Kit has a draft big board, while Top Drawer Soccer has a mock draft for the first two rounds. TDS predicts that Reign FC will select defender Kaiya McCullough from UCLA with the 9th pick.
This is your 2020 NWSL College Draft open thread; watch with us.