1 – HOU – Morgan Brian – MF – Virginia
This one’s a no-brainer, of course. Brian’s been destined for this spot for ages and should help out with a Houston midfield that had little attacking flair last season. While Carli Lloyd will be expected to provide most of the goals from the middle of the park, Randy Waldrum will likely be counting on Brian to slice defenses apart with her passing while also chipping in with the occasional goal herself. How Brian and Lloyd share the ball will be crucial. If Waldrum can get the two on the same page, the duo could be dynamite.
2 – SBFC – Sarah Killion – MF – UCLA
The departure of Sophie Schmidt only exacerbates the need for midfielders for SBFC, who look to have Katy Freels and a slew of replacement level players at the position right now. Killion isn’t the most dynamic midfielder in this class but is likely the most complete, able to fill the destroyer, shuttler, and creator roles in equal measure, though shielding the backline is probably the best bet at this level. It’s not a flashy pick, but it’s probably one of the safest in this draft.
3 – WNY – Samantha Mewis – MF – UCLA
The Flash are probably going to be overjoyed if Mewis falls into their laps, as there might have been some concern that SBFC would take her at #2, but all signs appear to point to Mewis being available at #3. The Flash badly need someone that can run the show from midfield after trading away Carli Lloyd, and Mewis, along with Morgan Brian, is one of the two elite #10s in this draft. While Mewis’ inconsistency may cause Aaran Lines to tear his hair out at times this year, she could develop into a cornerstone in time.
4 – WNY – Abby Dahlkemper – D – UCLA
WNY have taken a sledgehammer to their defense, with the only likely returning starter being Brittany Taylor. There may be a more immediate need at full-back, but you don’t pass up talent like Dahlkemper, meaning Taylor likely shifts to full-back with Dahlkemper partnering Whitney Engen long-term. Dahlkemper is a complete center-back, who is quick on her feet and powerful in the air and has great instincts for a player so young. The USWNT could beckon in a few years, and the UCLA center-back has the potential to shine right away in Rochester.
5 – CHI – Arin Gilliland – D – Kentucky
Lord only knows what Chicago does with this pick or even if they keep it. In all honesty, the Red Stars need a right-back more than a left-back if Rachel Quon isn’t here for the WWC, but I’m assuming they move Taryn Hemmings in the middle when Julie Johnston and Abby Erceg are away. There aren’t any elite right-backs in this class either, meaning Chicago may look to fill the left-back spot first. Gilliland probably isn’t letting go of a starting spot once she gets hold of one, and the Kentucky talisman should help stretch play and open up the offense, which was pretty stale at times last season. I wouldn’t be shocked if Chicago plumped for Kristin Grubka here too. They need some center-back cover, and the drop from her to the next option is big.
6 – WNY – Lynn Williams – F – Pepperdine
Williams played on Charlie Naimo’s LA Blues W-League conquering team this past Summer (albeit for one half of one game), so he’s probably familiar with her talents. The Pepperdine star possesses game breaking speed that the Waves used liberally in their counterattacking assault, and some of that pace could go a long way in replacing that dimension which was lost when Sam Kerr was traded. She’s currently on the Pepperdine track team and may miss some time, but that’s probably the case with many prospects, with Williams probably back in time for the WWC roster crunch to hit.
7 – WNY – Danielle Colaprico – MF/F – Virginia
Versatility helps everyone make a mark after the first handful of elite prospects, and Colaprico’s ability to play multiple roles is probably going to see her stick for a long time on rosters in her pro career. She literally played all four midfield positions with Virginia in a 4-4-2 diamond this season and can play higher on the wing in a 4-3-3 as well. That’s the role I see her in at this level, and her service from out wide could provide the club with a different dimension in the offense if they take Williams or another speedster as well.
8 – CHI – Sofia Huerta – F – Santa Clara
I think the Huerta hype is overblown, but there aren’t many great forwards in this class, while teams usually trip over themselves to reach for offense. The Red Stars are pretty much down to Jen Hoy and Hayley Brock come WWC time, with both players more vertical threats. Huerta offers up the ability to run the channels and stretch play with her pace and athleticism, which could be a godsend for a side that may struggle for consistency in the midfield. It also isn’t out of the question that the Red Stars might reach for her at #5.
9 – BOS – Stephanie McCaffrey – F – Boston College
Yeah, I think the last thing Boston needs is another damn unproven forward, but apparently the intelligentsia are reporting that the club is enamored with her. McCaffrey’s stock has been blowing up since she was called up to the U23 team and subsequently held over with the full USWNT a little bit later. But she’s not been a consistent goalscorer at the collegiate level and has functioned as mostly making teammates better. That’s not a bad skill, but is it enough to make her a first round pick? Boston has greater needs, but I suspect they’ll lean this way…and maybe trade up to make sure it happens.
10 – SBFC – Kristin Grubka – D/MF – Florida State
Grubka was linked with them as a player they were considering with an early pick, and though I don’t get the need, SBFC would probably do cartwheels if she falls this far considering how high they may have had her on the board. She’d probably displace Lindsi Cutshall as a starter or may even dip into a defensive midfield role as she did early in her career.
11 – BOS – Meghan Streight – MF/D – Texas A&M
This might be a little bit of a reach, but the Breakers need defensive midfield help, and Streight is the best option for that left on the board by a mile. She played center-back for much of her collegiate career but is undersized there at this level. Tough in the tackle and solid in the air, Streight would help counterbalance some of the club’s vast, vast number of attacking options while also serving as a center-back if needed in a pinch.
12 – FCKC – Shea Groom – MF/F – Texas A&M
This is a real stretch considering more firepower in the attack is the last thing FCKC needs in all likelihood, but there’s no way the club is going to be able to resist taking a local product with close club ties if she’s available here. Making an impact with the USWNT’ers here will be tough, but she could become a real asset creatively once the numbers start dwindling for the WWC. FCKC will just be hoping the full-backs don’t get snapped up after this pick.
13 – HOU – Chioma Ubogagu – F – Stanford
The collective cheer you hear from the Houston area will likely be if Ubogagu slips this far, the Texas club product likely to be regarded as a hometown heroine if she comes back to play here. Ubogagu could team up with Kealia Ohai on the flanks to give the Dash a hugely disruptive attacking game out wide that could set the table for whoever plays in the middle nicely. As long as she’s not counted upon to be a top scoring option, Ubogagu could turn into a nice pick.
14 – BOS – Jaelene Hinkle – D – Texas Tech
Boston needs defenders. OK, Boston needs quality defenders. It’s still probably a stretch to reach for a center-back at this point if Streight goes into defensive midfield, and taking Whitney Church here doesn’t seem to solve any problems. Hinkle is an athletic left-back who loves to cram the ball down defenses throats after playing in Tom Stone’s full-back friendly 4-2-2-2. Hinkle would hopefully stop the revolving door at full-back.
15 – SEA – Tatiana Coleman – F – UCF
Might be a bit of a reach, but you can reach for need when you’re as loaded as Seattle is right now. The one spot of concern in my mind is out wide in the attack, as the only real non-USWNT players to tick that box right now are Kiersten Dallstream and Merritt Mathias. Coleman would be a great fit here as an athletic wide option and could mix nicely as a direct winger as opposed to the more creative Megan Rapinoe.
16 – FCKC – Caprice Dydasco – D – UCLA
Another “rich get richer” addition, as Dydasco would probably go five or six picks higher in another year. She’s not as explosive as Gilliland or Hinkle going up the flank, but Dydasco is still very smooth technically and is a winner having played for UCLA the past four seasons. Getting a potential long-term starter in the middle of this draft would be a huge boon for the defending champs.
17 – FCKC – Tessa Andujar – D – Florida
It’s curious that Andujar hasn’t been mentioned more on draft boards, as she’s far and away the best right-back in this class filled with left-backs. Andujar’s still a bit raw, but she’s used to playing in a possession style team having played with Florida and knows how to get up and down the line. She might need a little patience but could provide a nice set of fresh legs down the stretch in matches right away.
18 – WNY – Sabrina D’Angelo – GK – South Carolina
I suppose you could replace this with Katelyn Rowland if that’s your preference, but I don’t think WNY is going to get caught out and not take a keeper by this point. With AD Franch seemingly exiled to the island on Lost right now, and Chantel Jones not guaranteed to be the safest #1 option, the Flash need a keeper that can play right away. D’Angelo has rough edges but has great footwork, a great leg, and strong shot-stopping ability. She’d immediately challenge for starting minutes here and likely grow into a #1 role with time.
19 – FCKC – Whitney Church – D – Penn State
Marginal fit, I know, but Church is the best center-back left on the board by some distance at this point. The worry is about her size, at 5’5″, with this not being the biggest group in the middle on defense to start with. But Church is battle tested at a high level and can fill in in midfield if needed, making her a versatile commodity for the club.
20 – BOS – Katelyn Rowland – GK – UCLA
There’s not a defender worth taking at this point in the draft, and the club is probably going to be looking to upgrade on Jami Kranich in goal if Alyssa Naeher makes the USWNT WWC squad. I’m not as high on Rowland as most of the punditry is, but she’d be a nice backup at the very least right off the bat.
21 – WNY – Kelsey Haycook – F – La Salle
The Flash grab a very different type of forward than Lynn Williams with their last pick. Haycook’s a big and productive center forward whose metrics were off the chart in her senior season. Might need some time to develop, but could by a diamond in the rough for a side searching for offensive options.
22 – SBFC – Daphne Corboz – MF – Georgetown
SBFC would run and not walk to the podium if Corboz is still available here. It’s not the most pressing need, with Katy Freels handling most of the playmaking duties, but Corboz is local and played with the SBFC reserves last year. Size a worry though considering she’d be matched in midfield with the wispy Freels in all likelihood.
23 – CHI – Nicole Setterlund – MF – Washington State
She’d consume an international slot, but Setterlund’s the best defensive midfielder left on the board. Not a blood and thunder type player, per se, but Setterlund’s still big and tough in the air, which suits this side fine. Ability to play center-back certainly a bonus here.
24 – BOS – Gabrielle Charno – D – UConn
Timing’s everything, and Charno picked a great time to have her best season as a collegian as UConn won the AAC Tournament this season. Good size at center-back and can chip in with the odd goal or two. A sleeper for a side needing defenders.
25 – SBFC – Cara Walls – F – Wisconsin
They need defenders, but there aren’t many great options at this point in the draft. They also need some forwards for when the club gets gutted come WWC time, and Walls is probably the best left on the board at this point. Her metric numbers are a little wonky, but when she’s on, Walls can fill it up.
26 – FCKC – Rachel Tejada – F – Illinois State
Not many holes left for a side with depth and a lot of earlier picks. They may need one more center forward though, and Tejada’s a local with a great scoring record, albeit for a mid-major. There won’t be immediate pressure though, and Tejada could be a big asset off the bench.
27 – CHI – Kelley Monogue – MF/F – Texas A&M
Monogue’s a middle round talent who could drop like a stone due to worries about her long-term future given her struggles with her knees in college. When hot, she’s almost unplayable though and scored numerous big goals as a senior. Can play in midfield and on the frontline, which should help her cause.
28 – SBFC – Jamia Fields – F – Florida State
The Queen of the Postseason is probably going to need more of that form to stick on a roster, but that clutch ability may be an asset if it can be harnessed. Despite College Cup final heroics, still possesses worrying lack of end product on a consistent basis but still disruptive out wide.
29 – BOS – Riley Houle – MF – UConn
Local kids are always in high demand in the later rounds, and Houle’s a good one. A prep phenom, Houle didn’t hit huge heights in college but still turned into a midfielder who should get a shot at this level and drops into a midfield with a scarcity in numbers.
30 – WSH – Kate Schwindel – F – West Virginia
Surprise! The options aren’t great down here for clubs that need a lot, which the Spirit kind of do. Schwindel’s an injury risk, which isn’t great for a club full of them up front, but if she’s healthy and on form, she’s a mid-round talent and could be a sleeper in this draft.
31 – HOU – Jordan Day – GK – Texas A&M
Day probably deserves better than this, but seemingly, a lot of minds have been made up about the top keepers in this class. She probably wouldn’t make this roster out of the gate but would probably slide into a backup role once Erin McLeod is gone for the WWC.
32 – CHI – Megan Oyster – D – UCLA
I think this is a stretch, as I’ve got a free agent grade on Oyster, but she’s local and battle tested on the UCLA backline. She lacks outstanding pace though, and her best hope may be making it as a reserve here and working her way up.
33 – BOS – Havana Solaun – MF – Florida
It’s not a need, and she’s not local, but it’s hard seeing Solaun slip this far in all honestly. A nice playmaker in a #10 friendly system in college, Solaun can also play out wide in a pinch.
34 – SBFC – Jade Seabrook – D – Navy
Maybe she can play, maybe she can’t with her Navy commitments, but Gabarra should know her since Carin Gabarra is the Midshipmen’s coach. A quality defender at mid-major level who could the jump.
35 – FCKC – Kaysie Clark – MF – Missouri
Local talent. Clark’s unlucky to have come out in a class with so many talented playmakers. Quietly brilliant in midfield, Clark could end up doing well in Europe if she can’t catch on in the States.
36 – SEA – Stephanie Verdoia – F – Seattle
Stay local if you can in these later rounds. Verdoia’s a small school killing machine from her four years with the Redhawks. Making the jump to a talented roster like the Reign’s is a big step though, and a few years of seasoning in Europe could see her flourish later.