Earlier this year on Jan. 13, the ninth annual NWSL Draft was held. Due to the pandemic, it was the first NWSL draft held online via videoconferencing and live broadcasting through NWSL’s official Twitch channel.
All 10 teams of the league took turns over four rounds (10 picks per round) to make their selections.
The 2021 NWSL Draft was quite a buzz and unique experience for everyone involved. Among the 40 players who got selected, some were well-known star college players.
Here are some of the players to keep an eye out for and who could be making a huge impact on the NWSL season this year.
The University of North Carolina is known for providing the soccer world with some brilliant icons of the game. Hence, it was no surprise when another Tar Heels star, Emily Fox, was the first pick of 2021 NWSL Draft.
The Racing Louisville FC, who chose Fox, will play their first NWSL season this year. The midfielder/defender has been a rock-solid member of the Tar Heels defence and proved her skills since day one at the university. She had been named to the third-team-All-ACC squad in her first year and followed up with three consecutive First-Team All-ACC appearances. Fox was also named the finalist for 2019 Hermann Trophy, given to the best college soccer player in the nation.
She received her first national team call-up in 2018 for a set of friendlies against Europe, where she received her first cap and started in a game against Portugal. In 2020, she was also called up at the U.S. national team’s January camp in Orlando, Fla. This young defender in no stranger to the limelight and is definitely going to be a key player for the new Louisville FC.
The 18-year-old Washington State rookie, Trinity Rodman, became the youngest player ever to be drafter in the NWSL history. Rodman was the No. 2 overall pick after Emily Fox.
The youngster was picked by none other than the well-known NWSL franchise, Washington Spirit. Rodman, known as NBA icon Dennis Rodman’s daughter, wants to be known for her soccer skills. Even after being selected as the No. 1 forward recruit in the 2020 class, she won’t play a single match at WSU. Rodman would have played with her WSU teammates last year but the whole soccer season was cancelled due to the pandemic. However, Rodman was given the option after the draft to continue this season at NCAA and wait until January 2022 to decide whether to turn pro. But after being picked second overall she opted to being in her NWSL career now.
This talented forward has great experience playing for the U.S. at both U-17 and U-20 level. Rodman has scored eight goals and six assists in the U-20 Women’s 2020 CONCACAF championship last March.
The young 22-year-old Canadian soccer star, Deanne Rose, was the 10th overall pick in the 2020 NWSL Draft.
The talented attacker is not just a strong college player. At 15-years-old, Rose made her debut for the Canadian national team. At 17 years old, in the 2016 Olympic Bronze medal match, Rose became the youngest player ever to score a goal in women’s Olympic soccer match. She also represented her national team in the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France. The Florida Gators forward is going to be a nightmare for the NWSL defence.
Rose has decided to finish up her collegiate career with the Gators this spring and later join her Courage teammates for remainder of the season.
A standout soccer player from University of Louisville, Emina Ekic made history in the 2020 NWSL Draft after being picked by Racing Louisville FC as an overall fifth pick of the night. Ekic became the first University of Louisville player to be selected in the NWSL draft.
Ekic, the Offensive ACC Player of Year, is thrilled to stay at home and compete for her hometown team in the league this season. The offensive midfielder could become a key member of the Louisville team. Leading the Cardinals to second position in the ACC, Ekic scored 10 of the 11 goals for her team. Maybe we will see her scoring some fantastic goals in the upcoming NWSL season.
While choosing overall No. 3 pick at the 2020 NWSL Draft, Sky Blue FC made no mistakes in selecting another UNC star player – Brianna Pinto.
The midfielder has earned quite a name for herself in the soccer world at the early age of 20. She started in 25 out of 26 games for the Tar Heels as a freshman. Pinto was also a 2019 Hermann Trophy semi-finalist and one the five finalists for the 2019 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year Award.
At 16 years old, Pinto was included in the U.S national team camp for the 2017 SheBelieves Cup. Since then, she has been a part of many other national team camps. In 2018, she also played for the U.S. at the U-20 World Cup.
Pinto is set to start her NWSL career after the NCAA’s upcoming spring soccer season ends.
The NWSL have a new framework for 2021, including the return of the Challenge Cup and a 24-game regular season before the playoffs. This year’s season is set to begin soon with the Challenge Cup kicking off Apr. 9.