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Once again, no drama surrounding No. 1 pick

Either Virginia or Florida State will win its first NCAA title in women's soccer on Sunday in Boca Raton. (USA Today Images)

Morgan Brian, right, will more than likely be the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NWSL Draft. (USA Today Images)

The NFL and NBA capitalize on college drafts not just for adding talent, but creating year-round buzz and and endless news cycle. Debate over the next draft’s No. 1 pick starts the same day as the current year’s top selection gets read off of the piece of paper at a podium.

Women’s soccer is hardly in the same galaxy as those major leagues, but the draft — for WPS and now for the NWSL — is the only signature event of a gruelingly long offseason. But the top pick and major talking point has been predictable in women’s soccer, and that will continue on Jan. 16 when the Houston Dash do the expected with the No. 1 pick and select Virginia midfielder Morgan Brian, who by that point could be a repeat MAC Hermann Trophy winner. She is almost certainly a lock for the United States’ 2015 World Cup roster.

Dash head coach Randy Waldrum said in a recent interview on Keeper Notes that Houston had offers for teams looking to trade up, but the Dash (obviously) aren’t giving away a chance to get the best young U.S. midfielder in a while. Both Waldrum and Dash managing director Brian Ching are open about their wanting Brian, who will likely miss a good chunk of the 2015 season to finish college in addition to the World Cup.

“We had a few offers for the first pick, but we’re not about to give the first pick away,” Waldrum said. “I think everyone out there expects us to take Morgan and obviously she’s a fantastic player. And I’m quite certain that’s probably the direction that we’re going, but I’d also say that Sam Mewis had a great year for UCLA this year. I’d say you could make some arguments that there are probably two or three players coming out this year that would make a great first-round pick.   … We’ve had some offers, but we’re not going to give that one away.”

The only real question was whether Brian might get allocated as a U.S. player instead of go into the draft pool, but that won’t happen.

[MORE: Dagný Brynjarsdóttir likely to play abroad  |  Huerta for USWNT, not Mexico?]

The lack of drama in the buildup to the draft has become commonplace for women’s soccer, which could very well speak to the lack of truly superior talent coming through the ranks. Every year there is a big star, but there aren’t usually several of them (2010 was a who’s who of international talent, to be fair).

At the first WPS college draft in 2009, then Boston Breakers president Joe Cummings walked to the podium with the card to select Amy Rodriguez before then WPS commissioner Tonya Antonucci finished stating that the Breakers were on the clock with the No. 1 pick.

Tobin Heath was always going to be the No. 1 pick by the Atlanta Beat in 2010, despite the team being coy in the buildup. And 2011 was the most obvious of no-brainers when the Western New York Flash took Alex Morgan first overall.

Sydney Leroux predictably went first overall to Atlanta in 2012 — the WPS season that never actually got played — and Crystal Dunn went No. 1 overall in the 2014 NWSL Draft when the Washington Spirit did what was expected.

The only break in the mold was the Chicago Red Stars in the first NWSL College Draft in 2013, when the few media members in the secluded and separated draft work room in Indianapolis let out a collective ‘Huh?’ when Zakiya Bywaters was selected first out of UCLA. Bywaters improved in 2014 but hasn’t yet lived up to the potential expected from a first-round pick. Kristie Mewis, Christine Nairn and Erika Tymrak were all notably selected behind Bywaters — Tymrak, arguably the best of the bunch so far, not until the second round.

To find some truly surprising No. 1 pick moments, one has to go back to the WUSA days. In 2003 then New York Power coach Tom Sermanni traded down to the No. 2 pick to take Christie Welsh, allowing the San Diego Spirit to take Aly Wagner. The trade also sent Shannon Boxx and Margaret Tietjen to New York.

World goal-scoring record holder Abby Wambach was actually selected second in 2002 behind Danielle Slaton, who went to the Carolina Courage. Wambach combined with Mia Hamm to win the 2003 Founders Cup. (The first WUSA draft, held in 2000 for the 2001 season, was an odd one that included internationals and thus hard to compare.)

Brian’s name being called out first on Jan. 16 is a formality, but there is significant intrigue in the picks that will follow in this deep draft class. UCLA could have three first-round picks in midfielders Sam Mewis and Sarah Killion and defender Abby Dahlkemper.

Updated 2015 NWSL Draft Order

Round 1

No.   |    Team
1. Houston Dash
2. Sky Blue FC-a
3. Western New York Flash
4. Western New York Flash-q
5. Chicago Red Stars
6. Western New York Flash-b
7. Western New York Flash-c
8. Chicago Red Stars-d
9. Boston Breakers-e

a-from Boston Breakers
b-from Washington Spirit
c-from Portland Thorns FC
d-from FC Kansas City
e-from Seattle Reign FC
q-from Sky Blue FC

Round 2

No.   |    Team
10. Sky Blue FC-r
11. Boston Breakers
12. FC Kansas City-f
13. Houston Dash-s
14. Boston Breakers-g
15. Seattle Reign FC-h
16. FC Kansas City-i
17. FC Kansas City
18. Western New York Flash-j

f-from Western New York Flash
g-from Chicago Red Stars via Porland Thorns FC]
h-from Washington Spirit
i-from Portland Thorns FC via Seattle Reign FC
j-from Seattle Reign FC via Boston Breakers
r -from Houston Dash
s-via Sky Blue FC

Round 3

No.   |    Team
19. FC Kansas City-k
20. Boston Breakers
21. Western New York Flash
22. Sky Blue FC
23. Chicago Red Stars
24. Boston Breakers-l
25. Portland Thorns FC
26. FC Kansas City-m
27. Chicago Red Stars-n

k-from Houston Dash
l-from Washington Spirit
m-from FC Kansas City via Seattle Reign FC
n-from Seattle Reign FC via Boston Breakers

Round 4

No.   |    Team
28. Sky Blue FC-t
29. Boston Breakers
30. Washington Spirit-o
31. Houston Dash-u
32. Chicago Red Stars
33. Boston Breakers-p
34. Portland Thorns FC
35. FC Kansas City
36. Seattle Reign FC

o-from Western New York Flash
p-from Washington Spirit
t-from Houston Dash
u-from Sky Blue FC


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