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The Week in Women's Football: NWSL draft; Liga MX Femenil action & new UWS franchises

This week, in a continuation from last week, we look at some new United Women's Soccer (UWS) franchises entering the top league and UWS League Two for 2022 (see: The Week in Women's Football: New USL franchises & Canada's professional quest - Tribal Football).

For Mexico, we also review the Opening Championship for the Liga MX Femenil, which culminated last month with two exciting derby games between Monterrey Rayados and UANL Tigres before two of the four largest women's football crowds in 2021. We also look at the 2022 NWSL Expansion and College Drafts that were held virtually late last month, and will continue with other NWSL news next week.


UWS Franchise Additions for 2022


Coppermine United of Baltimore Maryland

Coppermine United is moving to the first division of the United Womens Soccer (UWS) national pro-am league for 2022. Coppermine finished their 2021 debut as champions of the Mid-Atlantic South Conference in UWS League Two. Next season, they will field a First Team to compete in UWS and a Reserve Team to compete in UWS2 as an extension of their elite girls youth program. Coppermine Soccer Club has over one thousand active youth players (boys and girls) across the state of Maryland ranging from 5 to 18 years old. Their youth program has won numerous state, regional, and national titles, with the most recent coming in 2019 when their 2001 age group women's team won the USYS National Championship.

United Women's Soccer UWS national pro-am league UWS League Two UWS2 Coppermine United Baltimore Maryland MD


Several alumnae from the girl's program as well as current members of Coppermine United's roster are active and former professional players in Europe, the USA, and on various national teams (Puerto Rico, Peru, Philippines and Bermuda). Others are head coaches at local private high schools, youth club teams, and universities in the region. Coppermine United will continue to play their home games at Coppermine Norris Field in Baltimore.



Indiana Union

Indiana Union is coming back to the league and will play in UWS and UWS2 this coming season. Indiana Union's women's team is an extension of the Indy Premier Soccer Club, who originally joined UWS in 2017. The club finished as the UWS Midwest Conference Champions in 2019, and competed in the final four in Calgary, Alberta. After a cancelled season in 2020, the Union took off this past season. Not only will the Indianapolis-based club be returning to UWS in 2022, they will be adding a second team in UWS League Two.

Indy Premier was formed in June 2014 with the merger of three soccer clubs on the northeast side of Indianapolis: Fishers Soccer Club, IPSC and the travel component of Noblesville United Soccer Club merged to form the largest Travel and Recreational plus Program in the state of Indiana. They are the only club in the state of Indiana that will now be fielding two women's soccer teams at the UWS and UWS League Two levels. Indiana Union will play their home games at Trinity Sports Park in Noblesville, IN.

United Women's Soccer UWS national pro-am league UWS League Two UWS2 Indiana Union Indy Premier Indianapolis Indiana IN

Cap City Athletic 1847 of Lansing Michigan


A new United Women's Soccer (UWS) team is kicking off in 2022 out of Lansing, Michigan. After Lansing United's announcement that they would cease operations following the 2021 season, Cap City Athletic 1847 is filling that gap. The club has also announced the hiring of Erin Mandras to serve as head coach of their UWS team. Mandras has extensive collegiate coaching experience, including at Loyola University, Towson University and Michigan State. She holds a United States Soccer Federation "Class A" coaching license and is a 2014 inductee into the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Cap City Athletic club co-founder and Goalkeeping Director Stacy DeLong said, "We launched as a youth club in 2014, and have built a strong and successful program focused on developing players from both the athletic and character stand-point. The Lansing region is a vibrant soccer-loving community and we look forward to giving the fans a great club to cheer on and local youth players a team of role models they can look up to."


Corktown AFC in Detroit

In Detroit, Corktown AFC has announced an exciting new partnership with Michigan Hawks to grow women's soccer and create a true player pathway to professional soccer within their organizations. Both clubs have remained female-focused since their inception and will be joining forces to make a bigger impact across the landscape of women's soccer. This partnership includes the addition of Michele Krzisnik, Michigan Hawks Director of Coaching, joining the Corktown coaching staff. Corktown AFC will become Corktown Hawks to reflect this exciting partnership and will field teams in both UWS & UWS League Two (UWS2) in 2022. Eddie Hudson, Owner and Director of Corktown AFC said, "The Corktown AFC and Michigan Hawks partnership is monumental for the women's soccer landscape in Michigan. We are very pleased with how this amazing partnership developed and came together. Our intention is to provide the platform and the opportunities for those young ladies who are preparing themselves for collegiate and professional careers throughout the country and abroad. Together we will accomplish that."

Founded in 2019, Corktown AFC's vision is to bring successful female players together after their college seasons to compete in the best training and playing environment possible. The current player pool consistently comprises 70% of former Hawks players, creating a homecoming atmosphere for those players coming back to train and compete in familiar surroundings. Corktown finished its 2021 season as runners-up in their conference for UWS and lost in the first round of the playoffs to Midwest United FC of Grand Rapids 6-5 on penalty kicks after a 3-3 tie. In UWS League 2, Corktown finished second to Detroit City FC II in the Great Lakes Conference.

From their inception in 1974, the Michigan Hawks have been a pioneer in providing young female soccer players with an unrivaled training environment and access to the most elite competitive platforms in the country. They have produced ten national championship teams and 113 young players representing their country at the youth national level. The running tally of student athletes produced by Hawks is approximately 1100.


Michigan Jaguars

The Michigan Jaguars are joining both UWS and UWS League 2 for 2022. Founded in 1989, Michigan Jaguars FC is based in Novi, Michigan, which is northwest of Detroit, and is one of the premier girls' youth clubs in the country, consistently ranking in the SoccerWire Top 100. As a natural next step for the club, they will be providing female players the opportunity to compete at the national pro-am level to help prepare them for their college careers and beyond. Notable alumni includes: 2017 UWS National Champion Madison Pogarch, who was part of Grand Rapids FC prior to entering the NWSL, where she has been with the Portland Thorns since 2019.

Doug Steinard has been appointed head coach of the women's teams; Steinard formerly led North Oakland SC, who competed in UWS League Two last season and finished in ninth place out of 11 teams in the Great Lakes Conference. In addition to serving as a Jaguars youth coach, he is the women's assistant coach at Lawrence Tech University in Southfield, Michigan. Steinard led the Jaguars 2003/04 Girls NLC squad to the MSYSA U19 State Cup Championship in 2021 and an invitation to the USYS National League PRO competition.



FC Buffalo joins UWS League Two

UWS League Two (UWS2) is excited to launch the Lake Erie Conference, set to kick off in 2022. FC Buffalo (Buffalo, NY) fields a team in the first division of UWS and were the 2021 East Conference regular season champions in the 13 team group, and fell one game short of the final four after a 2-0 defeat to the Connecticut Fusion, will be adding a second team to compete in UWS League Two.


Erie Commodores

Erie Commodores FC (Erie, PA) will be expanding to the women's game to field a team in the Central Conference. Erie Commodores FC has a strong history of running senior elite teams, having managed a Men's team in the NPSL (National Premier Soccer League) since 2009. During that time The Commodores have won six Conference Championships, three Division Titles, three National Semi-final appearances and played in the National Final in its inaugural year. They look forward to the opportunity to bring the same success to their new women's program.


Pittsburgh Hotspurs join UWS and League Two for 2022

Pittsburg Hotspurs will field a first team in the UWS national pro-am league and a second team in UWS League Two (UWS2) next season. As the very first club with a full development pathway for both females (and males) in the Pittsburgh area, the addition of two women's teams in the league was a natural next step for the Hotspurs.

Pittsburgh Hotspurs is one of the fastest growing youth programs in western Pennsylvania. The club's academy (U8-19) has over 850 players, plus another 300 in the talent pool with their partner Arsenal FC of Pittsburgh. Through the Hotspurs partnership with Arsenal, they have established a pathway that has top players in the U16-U19 ages to train and compete with their adult teams. On the women's side, players will be among the talent competing for and filling out the UWS & UWS2 rosters, showing the depth of talent in the Pittsburgh area.

Head Coach & Club Director Tom Ovenden said, "We are constantly looking for ways to provide our players top opportunities to compete at the highest level and to really showcase the depth of talent coming out of this area. Transitioning to now have two women's teams competing in the summer months, in a top league that reflects the same standards that we strive for, enables us to bring our style of play and level to a wider audience and continue to shift the game forward—we're buzzing!" The Hotspurs will play their home matches at Founders Field in Cheswick, Pennsylvania



Keystone FC adds a UWS team for 2022

After a successful inaugural season in UWS League Two (UWS2), Keystone FC of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania is being promoted to the first division of the national pro-am league. Next season, they will field a First Team to compete in UWS League One and a Reserve Team to compete in UWS2 as an extension of their premier girls youth program. Keystone FC's women's team finished the 2021 season as runners-up (5-1-2) in the Mid-Atlantic North Conference of UWS League Two. Founded in 1980 as "Mechanicsburg Soccer Club," the club rebranded in 2015 as "Keystone FC" under new leadership. They have grown from being the home to 284 youth players to 1,300 players that make up 70 teams and have been successful on the state, regional, and national levels. Keystone FC's commitment to its mission has allowed the club to thrive by remaining player-centric while embracing team-first values. The development of its players has been recognized throughout the country and they have had over 50 players commit to play at the collegiate level in the last four years.

Head coach Sean Cochran said, "The expansion into the UWS allows us to complete our player development pyramid. This is an important step for Keystone FC as a club as we continue to grow and to develop opportunities for all of our players. It is outstanding that our players now have a pathway from the age of 4 through 22 to compete, grow and develop as players."

Keystone FC is the third Pennsylvania based club to join League One alongside Lancaster Inferno and Pittsburgh Hotspurs.



KC Courage and Sunflower State FC join in Kansas

UWS League Two (UWS2) will expand further into the Sunflower State of Kansas in 2022 with the addition of two Kansas City-based clubs. KC Courage, who fields a team in the first division of UWS and finished tied for third with 13 points from 8 games in the five team Central Conference, will be adding a second team to compete in UWS League Two. Their neighbor, Sunflower State FC will be expanding to the women's game to field a team in the Central Conference of UWS League Two for 2022.

Founded in 2014, the KC Courage is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization promoting and developing the character of young women through the sport of soccer. Inclusion, empowerment and giving back to the community are of paramount importance to the club. To this end, the KC Courage provides a high school soccer alternative training program in the spring and now offers not only one, but two women's teams competing under the UWS umbrella. KC Courage players Abby Small and Courtney Claassen even signed short-term NWSL contracts with Kansas City in 2021 to fill the void of several players on international duty late in the season; however neither saw any game action in the professional league. Small was named 2021 Central Conference First Team for her outstanding performance on defense while Claassen dominated in the attack for the Courage (4-1-3 W-D-L) for the team's inaugural season in UWS.

Sunflower State FC in Kansas City was established in 2019 and began its journey in semi-professional men's soccer. Their mission is to provide high level playing opportunities to all types of players that have the passion to play the beautiful game, while creating meaningful impact in players' lives and their community through soccer. As a natural next step in their organization's inclusive makeup, Sunflower State FC is expanding to field a women's team in UWS League Two. Joseph Lipoff, the clubs CEO/Owner and owner explained, "After developing the men's program, we have realized we want to truly create opportunities for everyone. We wouldn't be complete without giving the women an opportunity as well."


Liga MX Femenil Apertura (Opening) Championship—Rayados wins the Mexican League 2021-22 first half title over Tigres in Monterrey derby on penalty kicks after two legs

The top two teams in the regular season opening championship of the 2021/22 season made it to the opening championship final. UANL Tigres (47 points) and Monterrey Rayados (44 points)—both of Monterrey in Northern Mexico—advanced to the championship final to stage two epic derby matches, though Monterrey had a much more difficult path to the championship round than did Tigres (see regular season table below).


Liga MX Femenile 2021/22 Apertura Standings

Pos

Team

Pld

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Pts

Qualification or relegation

1

UANL

17

15

2

0

52

7

+45

47

Advance to Playoffs

2

Monterrey (C)

17

14

2

1

45

10

+35

44

3

Atlas

17

11

3

3

30

16

+14

36

4

Guadalajara

17

10

3

4

35

17

+18

33

5

América

17

9

4

4

33

19

+14

31

6

Santos Laguna

17

9

3

5

37

26

+11

30

7

Tijuana

17

9

3

5

30

19

+11

30

8

Cruz Azul

17

7

3

7

15

28

−13

24

9

Pachuca

17

6

5

6

28

24

+4

23


10

UNAM

17

5

6

6

19

16

+3

21

11

Puebla

17

5

3

9

18

30

−12

18

12

Toluca

17

5

3

9

13

27

−14

18

13

Necaxa

17

5

3

9

16

34

−18

18

14

Querétaro

17

4

4

9

19

23

−4

16

15

León

17

3

5

9

18

30

−12

14

16

Atlético San Luis

17

2

7

8

14

32

−18

13

17

Mazatlán

17

1

3

13

6

40

−34

6

18

Juárez

17

1

2

14

11

41

−30

5


In the playoffs, in the quarterfinals Tigres blasted Cruz Azul of Mexico City 8-0 on aggregate over two legs while Monterrey edged Tijuana due to having the better record or higher seed in the regular season table after a 2-2 aggregate scoreline. In the other two matches, Atlas narrowly edged Santos Laguna 4-3 on aggregate and Club America of Mexico City also advanced over Guadalajara by one goal, 2-1 on aggregate.

In the semifinals, Tigres defeated America 5-2 on aggregate after a 4-0 win at home in the second leg. Monterrey needed to play the higher seed card again after a 2-2 aggregate tie against Atlas. In the Finals, the Monterrey and Tigres deadlocked 2-2 in the first leg hosted by Monterrey in front of 34,191 fans at Estadio BBVA on December 17 (see the highlights on: Rayadas vs Tigres Femenil 2-2 Resumen Goles Final Regia Ida Liga MX 2021 - YouTube). They then played a 0-0 deadlock in an astoundingly exciting and offensive game by both sides in the Tigres home leg on December 20 in front of 36,843 fans at Estadio Universitario. Rayados finally won the title 3-1 on penalties when Alejandría Godínez (in her second season with Monterrey after a move from Pachuca) saved three Tigres penalties (see: Resumen y goles | Tigres (1)-(3) Rayadas | Grita México BBVA Femenil 2021 Final | TUDN - YouTube). Rayados thus won their second title to go with their Apertura title in 2019-20. For Tigres, they were unsuccessful in their attempt to capture their fifth Liga MX Femenile title; their defeat was their third finals loss and the second time falling to their city rivals Rayados after the 2019 Apertura Final.

The two final matches were two of the top drawing women's football crowds in 2021, behind Chelsea and Arsenal's FA Cup final of 40, 942 at Wembley Stadium. The Mexican Finals second leg match was second, followed by Australia versus the U.S. in Sydney last month (36.109—a record crowd for the Matildas at home) and then the U.S. vs. Mexico national teams friendly in East Hartford Connecticut before the Olympic Games Finals, which was a distant 27,758.

The top scorers in the Opening Championship was full Mexican international Alicia Cervantes of Guadalajara (who won a title with Rayados in 2019-20) with 17 goals. Mexican international forward Renae Cuellar of Tijuana (an ex-University of Arizona and University of Oklahoma forward who played in the NWSL, in Germany, Iceland, Israel, Sweden and the Korea Republic in Asia and was on the 2015 WWC Finals team and an alternate a the 2011 WWC Finals) was second with 15 goals, with Desireee Monsivais of champions Monterrey third on 14 goals. Monsivais has played with Monterrey since the league started in 2017 and previously had played with Kazhakstan power BIIK Shymkent.


2022 NWSL Drafts and Signings

On December 16 and 18, the NWSL held their Expansion Draft for the new San Diego Wave and Angel City FC (Los Angeles) franchises, who both start play in 2022. There were with a number of trades involving both drafts, with some major names changing clubs, including two time Women's World Cup winning forward Alex Morgan (see more as next week we look at depth at NWSL News since the NWSL Championship Game late last year). As a result of this flurry of trades, a possible 18 expansion draft selections (9 per team) became only 7, as some existing teams made trades to have roster protection from San Diego, Angel City FC or both teams so that they would not pick a player from among those they had to leave unprotected in the draft.


Angel City FC:
Expansion Draft:
1. Picked Dani Weatherholt from OL Reign
2. Picked Claire Emslie (Scotland) from Orlando. Emslie is now playing for Everton in the WSL.
3. Picked Jasmyne Spencer from Houston.
4. Picked Paige Nielsen from Washington.

Trades:

5. Acquired No. 6 pick in 2022 College Draft for No. 26 pick in 2022 College Draft and $125,000 in allocation money from the Houston Dash. Angel City later sent the pick and $25,000 in allocation money to Racing Louisville for the rights to American forward Savannah McCaskill.


San Diego Wave:
Expansion Draft:
1. Picked Kristie Mewis from Houston.
2. Picked Kristen McNabb from OL Reign.
3. Picked Kaleigh Riehl from Racing Louisville.
Trades:
4. Acquired Christen Westphal and Amirah Ali from Portland for $50,000 in allocation money.
5. Acquired Alex Morgan from Orlando for Angharad James (Wales) and $275,000 in allocation money.
6. Acquired $200,000 in allocation money from Gotham FC for Kristie Mewis.


For the 2022 NWSL college draft, there were 189 players who registered, with all of them citizens of the U.S. except for the following:

  • United Kingdom 9
  • Brazil 4
  • Canada 4
  • France 2
  • Germany 2
  • New Zealand 2
  • Ghana 1
  • Greece 1
  • Hungary 1
  • Netherlands 1
  • Russia 1
  • Slovenia 1
  • Spain 1
  • Sweden 1

There were four registrants who had joint U.S. citizenship with another country: one each from Argentina, Germany, Jamaica and Mexico.

The 50 players selected in the college draft are as follows. Note: the citizenship is the U.S. unless otherwise noted.


NWSL 2022 College Draft

Round 1
No. 1: San Diego Wave FC — Naomi Girma, defender (Stanford)
No. 2: Racing Louisville FC — Jaelin Howell, midfielder (Florida State)
No. 3: North Carolina Courage — Emily Gray, midfielder (Virginia Tech)
No. 4: Racing Louisville FC — Savannah DeMelo, midfielder (USC)
No. 5: Orlando Pride — Mia Fishel, forward (UCLA)
No. 6: North Carolina Courage — Diana Ordoñez, forward (Virginia)
No. 7: Kansas City Current — Elyse Bennett, forward (Washington State)
No. 8: OL Reign — Zsanett Kajan, forward (St. John's)
No. 9: San Diego Wave FC — Marleen Schimmer, forward (Grand Canyon Univ.)
No. 10: Orlando Pride — Caitlin Cosme, defender (Duke)
No. 11: Orlando Pride — Julie Doyle, forward (Santa Clara)
No. 12: North Carolina Courage — Kaitlin Fregulia, defender (Cal State; Long Beach)

Round 2
No. 13: Portland Thorns FC — Sydny Nasello, defender (Univ. of South Florida)
No. 14: Washington Spirit (trade with San Diego) — Tinaya Alexander, forward (LSU)
No. 15: Washington Spirit (trade with OL Reign) — Madison Elwell, forward (Vanderbilt)
No. 16: Racing Louisville FC — Charmé Morgan, defender (Oklahoma State)
No. 17: Kansas City Current — Chardonnay Curran, midfielder (Oregon)
No. 18: Chicago Red Stars — Ava Cook, forward (Michigan State)
No. 19: Chicago Red Stars — Sammi Fisher, midfielder (Notre Dame)
No. 20: OL Reign — Claudia Dickey, goalkeeper, (UNC)
No. 21: OL Reign — Ryanne Brown, forward (Wake Forest)
No. 22: Portland Thorns FC — Gabby Provenzano, midfielder/defender (Rutgers)
No. 23: Washington Spirit — Lucy Shepherd, forward (Hofstra) England Aston Villa
No. 24: NJ/NY Gotham FC — Kelly Ann Livingstone, defender (Georgetown)
No. 25: San Diego Wave FC — Sydney Pulver, midfielder/defender (Washington State)
No. 26: Racing Louisville FC — Jordyn Bloomer, goalkeeper (Univ. of Madison – Wisconsin)

Round 3
No. 27: San Diego Wave FC — Belle Briede, forward/midfielder (Stanford)
No. 28: Angel City FC — Hope Breslin, midfielder (Illinois)
No. 29: North Carolina Courage — Haleigh Stackpole, forward/midfielder (Ole Miss)
No. 30: Racing Louisville FC — Jenna Menta, forward (Wake Forest)
No. 31: Orlando Pride — Jada Talley, forward (USC)
No. 32: OL Reign — Kaile Halvorson, forward/midfielder (Santa Clara)
No. 33: OL Reign — Olivia Van der Jagt, midfielder (Washington)
No. 34: NJ/NY Gotham FC — Hensley Hancuff, goalkeeper (Clemson)
No. 35: Chicago Red Stars — Sarah Griffith, forward (Purdue)
No. 36: Angel City FC — Lily Nabet, midfielder (Duke)
No. 37: Chicago Red Stars — Kayla McKeon, midfielder (Arkansas)
No. 38: Washington Spirit — Audrey Hardin, forward (UNC-Wilmington)

Round 4
No. 39: Angel City FC — Miri Taylor, forward (Hofstra)
No. 40: San Diego Wave FC — Kayla Bruster, defender (Georgia)
No. 41: Kansas City Current — Jenna Winebrenner, defender (TCU)
No. 42: Racing Louisville FC — Sydney Cummings, defender (Georgetown)
No. 43: Kansas City Current — Izzy Rodriguez, defender (Ohio State)
No. 44: Houston Dash — Ryan Gareis, forward (South Carolina)
No. 45: North Carolina Courage — Marisa Bova, goalkeeper (Purdue)
No. 46: NJ/NY Gotham FC — Raleigh Loughman, midfielder (Michigan)
No. 47: OL Reign — Marley Canales, midfielder (UCLA)
No. 48: Portland Thorns — Natalie Beckman, forward (Denver)
No. 49: Chicago Red Stars — Jayda Hylton-Pelaia, defender (Arizona State)
No. 50: Washington Spirit — Jordan Thompson, defender (Gonzaga)


Players from other nations selected include:

St. John's University forward Zsannett Kajan became the first Hungarian player to be selected in the NWSL draft by OL Reign with the eighth overall pick. Kajan has played over 30 full internationals for Hungary and was first capped as a 16-year-old and scored a goal with three assists in a WWC Qualifier against Kazakhstan a few months after her debut. The first German to be taken by the league was Grand Canyon University (Phoenix, Arizona) forward/midfielder Marleen Schimmer, an U-17 international with Germany, who was selected by San Diego Wave FC with the ninth pick; she previously played at Arizona State University.

Washington Spirit selected Louisiana State University forward Tinaya Alexander of Reading, England with the 14th pick. She won two FA Youth Cups with Arsenal and was capped at the U-17 level. With their 23rd pick, the Spirit added English forward Lucy Shepherd from Hofstra, who played with Aston Villa at their academy and in their first team level (2 seasons); she helped the Villa U-17's make the FA Youth Cup Final in 2013-14, and has been capped at the U-19 level. Angel City FC selected Shepherd's Hofstra teammate Miri Taylor with the 39th pick in the draft. Taylor had 33 goals—sixth in the college program's history—and 31 assists in 69 games. Taylor is also from England and played with Chelsea and Arsenal as a youth and has been capped by England at multiple levels.

Late in the fourth round, NJ/NY Gotham FC selected midfielder Raleigh Loughman from the University of Michigan (46th pick), who has joint U.S. and Argentinian citizenship; she has been capped by Argentina at the U-20 level. Another dual citizen is Arizona State University's Canadian defender Jayda Hylton-Pelaia, who plays internationally for Jamaica and was selected by the Chicago Red Stars with the 49th selection in the draft.


The 2022 draft also saw first-time selections for three universities, including Cal State - Long Beach, the University of Georgia and Gonzaga University

Among some of the team trades for draft choices or allocation money, some of the player movement included OL Reign trading midfielder Kelcie Hedge to the Houston Dash in return for the 21st overall pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft and $15,000 in allocation money. The Reign also traded Leah Pruitt and Spanish international Celia Jimenez Delgado, along with the No. 10 overall pick in the College Draft and a 2023 NWSL Draft natural second-round pick to the Orlando Pride; OL Reign acquired American defender Phoebe McClernon, who played collegiately at the University of Virginia and played in 2020 with Vaxjo in Sweden and has been capped at the U.S. U-23 level.

In another trade, the North Carolina Courage traded their NWSL rights to Canadian international Deanne Rose (22) to the Orlando Pride in exchange for the No. 29 overall pick. Rose was selected by the North Carolina Courage in the 2021 draft after four years with the University of Florida and over 60 full national team caps for Canada She declined to sign for the Courage and after the Olympics Games Finals this summer, she joined Reading in England's WSL. Reading is currently tied for sixth and mid-table after 9 games, with a 4-1-4 (W-D-L) record, and Rose has 3 goals in 8 games for the Kelly Chambers-coached side. At the last two Olympics, Rose has won a bronze (Rio in 2016) and gold medal (Tokyo last summer) and was on the 2019 Women's World Cup team in France.

A downside of the draft is that there was some controversy over one of the selections, a not altogether suprising outcome after the devastating year the league had with multiple instances of a severe lack of player protection protocols and action from abusive coaches, staff, etc. With their first pick at No. 14, the Portland Thorns selected South Florida star Sydny Nasello, who was found to have liked a racist tweet and retweeted a transphobic tweet on social media. Nasello issued an apology, but then locked her Twitter account.

The new Thorns coach Rhian Wilkinson said, "I think it's important that I state that this is an inclusive, open club that values its fans and knows what we stand for. This is someone that we did a lot of due diligence on in terms of what we do as a club, but as a first-year head coach and—yeah, these are these are gonna come across as excuses—but I do need to hold my head up and be responsible for not doing the work needed on the social media side. Definitely, a piece that we're going to be working with this young lady and getting to know her."

The Thorns had essentially covered up Paul Riley's abuse of players in 2014 and 2015 that was revealed in an Athletic story late in the season, essentially bursting the dam on the NWSL and resulting in the league commissioner Lisa Baird resignation. At the Thorns, the General Manager/Director of Operation during that time and into 2022—New Zealander Gavin Wilkinson—was relieved of his duties with the Thorns but retained his role with the MLSPortland Timbers (who lost on penalties to NYCFC at home in December in the MLS Cup Final)—a fact which many fans in the liberal state of Oregon find quite disconcerting.

Stanford University defender Naomi Girma was selected by San Diego Wave FC with the No. 1 overall pick in the College Draft. Stanford now boasts four No. 1 selections in NWSL Draft history. Girma joins Stanford grads Tierna Davidson (2019), Sophia Smith (2020) and Andi Sullivan (2018) as the first overall pick.



Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey


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