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Looking back at the forgotten 2012 WPS Draft

Sydney Leroux never played in WPS but she was the league's final No. 1 overall pick. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Sydney Leroux never played in WPS but she was the league’s final No. 1 overall pick. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Thursday is one day shy of five years since the forgotten WoSo draft of 2012. On a frigid Friday in Kansas City, what was left of WPS gathered in a modest room to hold a draft for what was supposed to be a fourth season. The league was riddled with scars though. After booting magicJack from the ranks and receiving a waiver from U.S. Soccer to operate as a five-team circuit, the battled, bruised league set about building teams for 2012. The draft was closed to the public, and despite being part of the popular NSCAA convention, drew scant media attention. Only one drafted player attended—Melinda Mercado who went No. 16 to the Boston Breakers.

The draft board looked awkward. Despite the league containing only five teams the first two rounds had seven and six selections each due to trades made with magicJack and the Chicago Red Stars who had left the league to drop down a level ahead of the 2011 season.

{MORE: Jeff Kassouf’s story from Draft Day 2012}

Through the turmoil there was little surprise at the top. Sydney Leroux was nearly a year removed from her first cap and was very clearly capable of scoring goals at the international level. The Atlanta Beat, who had the first pick by virtue of winning just a single match the year before, snapped her up. Leroux was in camp with the national team but had already received a knock on the door from some teammates who presented her with a Beat jersey signifying she would be the top pick.

In the five years since, Leroux has won an Olympic gold medal and a Women’s World Cup. She recently became a mother and is working herself back into shape to rejoin the national team and FC Kansas City.

{NWSL DRAFT: Gordon’s 1st round mock | Lauletta tries to unlock it all}

Leroux never played for the Beat though. Seventeen days after the draft the 2012 season was called off, and in May the league finally put itself out of its own misery. But the years have shown that Beat coach James Galanis, now more famous as Carli Lloyd’s personal trainer, made the right pick. Several of the 22 players selected after Leroux have and continue to have strong careers but all pale in comparison.

All 13 players taken in the first two rounds plus the opening pick of the third round, wound up playing in NWSL. Hermann winner Teresa Noyola was picked last of the seven first rounders continuing a trend in which no Hermann winner was taken in the top two in WPS. In all, 19 of the 23 players selected wound up in NWSL.

{2017 NWSL DRAFT ANALYSTS: Aly Wagner | Jen Cooper}

The biggest steal? That probably would have been Jasmyne Spencer, picked 21st overall. Spencer’s 2016 season in Orlando may have been her strongest yet.

Here is a full look at the 2012 WPS draft:

1. Atlanta Beat: Sydney Leroux
2. Sky Blue FC: Melissa Henderson
3. Boston Breakers: Stephanie Ochs
4. Sky Blue FC: Cami Levin
5. Philadelphia Independence: Sarah Hagen
6. Western New York Flash: Lindsay Taylor
7. Western New York Flash: Teresa Noyola

8. Western New York Flash: Tori Huster
9. Sky Blue FC: Ingrid Wells
10. Atlanta Beat: Katy Frierson (now Katy Freels)
11. Boston Breakers: Courtney Jones
12. Philadelphia Independence: CoCo Goodson
13. Philadelphia Independence: Toni Pressley

14. Philadelphia Independence: Bianca Henninger
15. Sky Blue FC: Jillian Mastroianni
16. Boston Breakers: Melinda Mercado
17. Philadelphia Independence: Danielle Foxhoven
18. Western New York Flash: Tahni Annis

19. Sky Blue FC: Laura Heyboer
20. Boston Breakers: Jessica Luscinski
21. Philadelphia Independence: Jasmyne Spencer
22. Western New York Flash: Erica Henderson
23. Atlanta Beat: Kate Deines


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