A Look At Each NWSL Team Ahead Of The 2021 College Draft

The NWSL College Draft is set to take place today, Wednesday, January 13 at 7 p.m. ET. The draft will be live-streamed on Twitch. This draft will look different with it being a virtual experience, but they’re still should be plenty of excitement and drama. 

The NWSL waived the registration requirement for “seniors” or players who have played three seasons of collegiate athletics. In previous years, all players had to put their names on the registration list to be selected. Even if a player has no intention of joining the NWSL this year, if a club selects a player, then that club will hold their rights until the start of the 2022 preseason. 

Below is a look at all the club’s rosters, draft picks, and needs ahead of the draft:

*All 2020 U.S. or Canadian federation allocated players are bolded, the 2021 list has not been released yet.

Chicago Red Stars

Draft picks: 6, 25, 35
Needs: Goalkeeper, midfield depth

Chicago is going to be a good team when all their players are there if they can get the attack going. The problem is they have five players that could potentially be gone for the Olympics. The team struggled at times to score goals during the NWSL Challenge Cup and Fall Series, but if they can find a way to put the ball in the back of the net, don’t count out the Red Stars.

The team’s focus should be on resigning out of contract players. Chicago needs to pick up another goalkeeper; Alyssa Naeher is the starter for the U.S. Women’s National team and will miss time with the Olympics. The usual backup keeper, Emily Boyd tore her ACL in the fall of 2020, while on loan in Denmark and will most likely miss most of the NWSL season.

Under Contract: Alyssa Naeher, Kealia Watt, Casey Short, Julie Ertz, Morgan Gautrat, Zoe Morse, Makenzy Doniak, Ella Stevens, Tierna Davidson, Cassie Miller, Mallory Pugh, Sarah Woldmoe, Nikki Stanton

Out of Contract: Arin Wright, Alyssa Mautz, Rachel Hill, Vanessa DiBernardo, Sarah Gorden, Sarah Luebbert, Emily Boyd, Danielle Colaprico, Kayla Sharples, Bianca St. Georges, Hannah Davison, Zoey Goralski, Katie Johnson

Portland Thorns

Draft picks: 7, 12, 22, 32, 37
Needs: midfield depth, goalkeeper

For Portland, the 2021 season will be a bust if they don’t come away with trophies. The biggest offseason move for the team was acquiring Crystal Dunn, one of the best players in the world right now, who can play in the attack or on the backline. They lost some key pieces with Tobin Heath being selected in the expansion draft and losing Gabby Seiler and Emily Ogle in a trade with Houston.

Like most of the teams, Portland might stumble while players are away in the Olympics with Sauerbrunn, Horan, Dunn, Sinclair, and possibly Franch missing time. Portland will look to add some midfielders and possibly a goalkeeper with Bixby suffering a torn ACL during the NWSL Challenge Cup.

Under Contract: Becky Sauerbrunn, Rocky Rodriguez, Lindsey Horan, Christen Westphal, Crystal Dunn, Adrianna Franch, Kelli Hubly, Christine Sinclair, Sophia Smith, Morgan Weaver, Meghan Klingenberg, Celeste Boureille, Britt Eckerstrom, Natalia Kuikka

Out of Contract: Emily Menges, Madison Pogarch, Bella Bixby, Tyler Lussi, Angela Salem, Simone Charley

Orlando Pride

Draft picks: 9, 14, 18, 24, 34
Needs: Defender, midfielder, forward

Orlando is a team that is hard to read. We didn’t get to see them in the NWSL Challenge Cup, and they struggled to find the back of the net during the Fall Series. They’ll have Alex Morgan back for a little bit before the Olympics, but Sydney Leroux has yet to resign. They lost Claire Emslie, Emily Van Egmond, and Shelina Zadorsky to England which will be key shoes to fill.

Orlando was able to add Meggie Doughtery Howard, a veteran player who will help strengthen the midfield. The Pride will need to add some serious depth before the season begins.

Under Contract: Erin McLeod, Toni Pressley, Ali Riley, Marta, Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan, Jade Moore, Carson Pickett, Carrie Lawrence, Ashlyn Harris, Konya Plummer, Taylor Kornieck, Courtney Petersen, Brittany Wilson, Chelsee Washington, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Marisa Viggiano

Out of Contract: Sydney Leroux, Camila, Kristen Edmonds

OL Reign

Draft pick: 28
Needs: Goalkeeper, defense depth

OL Reign currently only have one goalkeeper in Cosette Morche, who they signed in December of 2020. They lost Casey Murphy to North Carolina in a trade, and former starter, Michelle Betos to Louisville in the expansion draft. They’ll need to add a backup somehow or another.

Another option with their draft pick could be grabbing a defender. They lost Julia Ashley in the expansion draft as well, so adding another defender would be beneficial. We could see this team score a lot of goals if the young attacking players can create and build chemistry. The addition of Tziarra King from Kansas City adds to the already stacked forward group.

Under Contract: Amber Brooks, Lauren Barnes, Allie Long, Jess Fishlock, Celia Jimenez Delgado, Megan Rapinoe, Cosette Morche, Dani Weatherholt, Ally Watt, Kristen McNabb, Sofia Huerta, Nicole Momiki, Jasmyne Spencer, Bethany Balcer, Kelcie Hedge, Shirley Cruz, Machaela George, Rosie White, Leah Pruitt, Madison Hammond, Angelina, Tziarra King

Out of Contract: Morgan Andrews, Stephanie Cox 

Washington Spirit

Draft picks: 2, 19, 29, 39
Needs: Midfielder, goalkeeper

Washington is a team that made a lot of offseason moves, most notably adding Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett without giving up their core of players. The Spirit has a ton of young talent that will allow this team to be contenders for a long time. They will need to be more productive in the attacking half of the field.

Washington should use their draft picks to add some midfield depth and possibly another weapon up top. They are also a team in the market for a goalkeeper to back up Aubrey Bledsoe.

Under Contract: Dorian Bailey, Aubrey Bledsoe, Averie Collins, Jordan DiBiasi, Bayley Feist, Ashley Hatch, Tori Huster, Natalie Jacobs, Devon Kerr, Tegan McGrady, Paige Nielsen, Kelley O’Hara, Ashley Hatch, Emily Sonnett, Sam Staab, Andi Sullivan, Saori Takarada, Kumi Yokoyama

North Carolina Courage

Draft picks: 10, 20, 30
Needs: midfielder, defender

North Carolina has gone through a lot of recent changes. For four years, Paul Riley was able to keep his team intact, but this season will look different. Sam Mewis signed with Manchester City, Crystal Dunn was traded to Portland, Jaelene Daniels retired, and The Athletic broke the news that Abby Dahlkemper is signing with Manchester City. Plus, Addisyn Merrick and Lauren Milliet were selected in the expansion draft.

Don’t sound the alarm on the Courage yet though as there’s still a lot of talent on this team. They have the depth to fill some of those holes. Riley is one of the best at developing talent, and that’s what he’ll continue to do.

Under Contract: Katelyn Rowland, Kaleigh Kurtz, Abby Erceg, Abby Dahlkemper, Denise O’Sullivan, Lynn Williams, Debinha, Meritt Mathias, Ryan Williams, Jessica McDonald, Hailie Mace, Lindsay Agnew, Cari Roccaro, Hailey Harbison, Kristen Hamilton, Meredith Speck, Sinclaire Miramontez, Samantha Murphy, Rylee Baisden, Casey Murphy, Taylor Smith, Havana Solaun

Houston Dash

Draft picks: 26, 27
Needs: outside back

The 2020 Challenge Cup Champions should be in a good position to make a run for the championship this season. They could struggle some during the Olympics, especially if Kristie Mewis is gone. Houston added Emily Ogle, Annike Schmidt, and Gabby Seiler ahead of the 2021 season to help strengthen the team. The Dash will probably look to add an outside back from the draft.

Under Contract: Jane Campbell, Allysha Chapman, Rachel Daly, Meagan Kelly, Shea Groom, Katie Stengel, Nichelle Prince, Haley Hanson, Christine Nairn, Megan Oyster, Veronica Latsko, Sophie Schmidt, Bri Visalli, Kristie Mewis, Lindsey Harris, Jamia Fields, Katie Naughton, Bridgette Andrzejewski, Amanda Dennis, Emily Ogle, Annike Schmidt, Gabby Seiler, Ally Prisock, Cami Privett

Kansas City

Draft picks: 15, 16, 17, 36, 38
Needs: midfielder, forward

It’s no secret that the former owners in Utah didn’t handle this team well. It’s tough to analyze how this club will do next season under new ownership, in a new city, and under a new coach. The good news is that the core of the former Utah team is still intact.

Losing Tziarra King probably wasn’t ideal, but getting Darian Jenkins in return should help a struggling attack. There is talent on this roster, and if they can create more chemistry, Kansas City could surprise a few people.

Under Contract: Rachel Corsie, Katie Bowen, Elizabeth Ball, Lo’eau LaBonta, Diana Matheson, Desiree Scott, Taylor Lytle, Nicole Barnhart, Mallory Weber, Taylor Leach, Kate Del Fava, Gunny Jonsdottir, Mariana Laroquette, Sydney Miramontez, Jaycie Johnson, Carly Nelson, Darian Jenkins

Out of contract: Abby Smith, Michelle Maemone, Maddie Nolf, Gaby Vincent, Brittany Ratcliffe, Amy Rodriguez, Arielle Ship, Michele Vasconcelos, Raisa Strom-Okimoto

Sky Blue FC

Draft picks: 3, 4, 13, 23, 33, 40
Needs: Midfielder, depth players

Sky Blue embraced 2020 as a rebuilding year and did a good job. They also, as of right now, have the most picks in the 2021 draft with six. One of the biggest questions for the team is who will replace Sarah Woldmoe in the midfield. If the Olympics happen this summer, Kailen Sheridan will miss some time. This means 2020 draft pick, Amanda McGlynn will have to step in. McGlynn is more than capable of starting but we have yet to see her play in the league. Using those draft picks to add a midfielder will be important for Sky Blue.

Under Contract: Kailen Sheridan, Paige Monoghan, Nicole Baxter, McCall Zerboni, Erica Skroski, Nahomi Kawasumi, Carli Lloyd, Gina Lewandoski, Didi Haracic, Kenie Wright, Sabrina Flores, Domi Richardson, Elizabeth Eddy, Evelyne Viens, Amanda McGlynn, Mandy Freeman, Midge Purce, Estelle Johnson, Ifeoma Onumonu, Imani Dorsey, Sodam Lee
Out of Contract: Caprice Dydasco, Megan Hinz

Racing Louisville FC

Draft picks: 1, 5, 11, 21, 31
Needs: forward, defender

Finally, another expansion team. Head coach, Christy Holly, has brought in some young talent, as well as experience. He is building the pieces to make this club great, but there could be some hiccups during the first season. We’ll have to see how quickly this team can gel together and create chemistry. If all the pieces click, this should be an exciting team to watch. Louisville currently holds the rights to Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Caitlin Foord, and Alanna Kennedy.

Under Contract: Erin Simon, Savannah McCaskill, Yuki Nagasato, Julia Ashley, Michelle Betos, Addisyn Merrick, Kaleigh Riehl, Katie Lund, Cheyna Matthews, Freja Oloffson, Brooke Hendrix, Lauren Milliet, Jennifer Cudjoe, Cece Kizer