Just one day remains before the 2017 NWSL college draft. It’s a pretty safe bet that the events of the final two days of the countdown will likely bring about changes that turn these predictions on their heads. As it stands right now, Boston holds almost half the first picks so all eyes and a ton of pressure will be on the Breakers. Here’s a look at how the first round of the NWSL draft could play out in Los Angeles Thursday.
- Boston – Rose Lavelle, Wisconsin
There’s a bit more uncertainty surrounding this pick than the league has seen since its inaugural season. In truth, there are two players that the Breakers could select here. Local product Morgan Andrews or Rose Lavelle. Both are extremely talented and would help Boston generate more offense something it needs to do desperately if it wants to climb out of the basement of the league. Lavelle edges out Andrews here quite simply because players that move with the ball like Lavelle does just don’t exist especially on this side of the Atlantic.
- North Carolina – Ashley Hatch, BYU
I know I said in my positional rankings that Savannah Jordan would be the first forward off the board, but this is just a perfect fit assuming the Courage wish to continue in the same vein as the Flash. Fast, physical and strong, Hatch makes the gritty type of play this team is known. Trying to stop Jess McDonald, Lynn Williams, and Ashley Hatch would be a challenge for any team in NWSL. North Carolina also has another pick later in this around to dress more “urgent” needs assuming it chooses to hold onto it.
- Boston – Morgan Andrews, USC
Boston will take the “why not both?” approach to two of the most promising attacking midfield talents the league has seen thus far the college draft. It’s no secret that outstanding attacking midfield talents are in short supply in NWSL. If the Breakers take both, the team will be in control if another club wants to make a trade. Otherwise, Lavelle did move further back in the Wisconsin midfield this season so that’s also a possibility.
- Sky Blue FC -Christina Gibbons, Duke
Okay, this is where it starts to get tricky. It’s hard to imagine that Jordan would fall much further than this if she’s serious about playing in NWSL, however, Sky Blue FC could use another outside back. Outside backs are definitely in shorter supply than forwards in this draft. Add in Gibbons’ recent call-up to the U.S. National Team, albeit at midfield, and this seems a possible route for Sky Blue to take.
- Kansas City – Mandy Freeman, USC
FC Kansas City has a lot of needs but, arguably not at forward, if both Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux return. The team could use some depth at defense though and then use the twelve pick on an attacking midfielder. If you’re looking for defense, who better than a versatile national champion that can play multiple positions in the back as well as function as a defensive midfielder? Freeman would be a great piece for a team looking to rebound from its worst season to date.
- Seattle – Savannah Jordan, Florida
Jordan is just too good a play to pass up and Seattle’s head coach and general manager Laura Harvey is known for her affinity for trades. Seattle could scoop her up and then trade her to a team on the outside looking in at this year’s first round. If Jordan’s future lay elsewhere, the Reign would do well to grab Jordan’s former teammate Meggie Dougherty Howard to help fill the void left by the retirement of Keelin Winters.
- North Carolina – Kayla Mills, USC
Assuming the Courage hold onto this pick and don’t use it to brokerage a trade for an established player with local ties, the team could use some depth at outside back. Mills is a player that likes to bomb up and down the flank. She also fits the bill of the type of player fans have grown to expect from this team as she’s fast and strong.
- Boston – Maddie Bauer, Stanford
Who gets taken with each of the next two draft picks matters little in terms of the bigger picture unless Boston trades one of these picks. That’s obviously well within the realm of possibility. If the Breakers keep it, look for the team to acquire a center back as Whitney Engen’s future is still unclear (at least publicly). Bauer is a good communicator, who’s known her calmness under pressure and her cerebral approach to the position. She would be a good pickup for a defense that seemed far from calm all too often the last several years.
- Boston – Rachel Hill, UConn
Boston will look to add its attacking depth with this pick. The two-time ACC Offensive Player of the Year is a consistent goalscorer at the collegiate level Hill would be a good addition to the Breakers. She’s got a good work rate which makes a candidate to play elsewhere on the field if necessary.
- Sky Blue FC- Jane Campbell, Stanford
Sky Blue FC had too many questions at keeper last year. Since the team has no second round picks in the draft, Sky Blue FC will go ahead and try answer those questions once and for all with the best available keeper in the draft.