He has the whole word in his hands, Portland Thorns coach Mark Parsons that is. Well, not precisely the world, just the National Women’s Soccer League Draft.
With control of the top two selections in the 2016 Draft, all eyes will be on Parsons Friday morning in Baltimore. It is quite a change from last year’s talent auction in Philadelphia when the league’s best-supported club held zero selections.
Portland acquired the first pick from incoming expansion club Orlando and the number two pick from the Boston Breakers. Portland surrendered U.S. internationals Alex Morgan (U.S.) and Kaylyn Kyle (Canada) with Morgan’s World Cup teammate Meghan Klingenberg making her way from Houston to Portland in the deal, a deal that is said to include the rights to PSG and U.S. international Lindsey Horan going to Portland, although an NWSL official was unable to confirm that for GotSoccer.
Coach Parsons has been down this road before and will be hoping to as well as he did in 2014 when, as the coach of the Washington Spirit, he made Crystal Dunn the first name off of the board. Parsons is expected to scoop up University of Virginia and U.S. WNT central defender Emily Sonnett with the first pick this time out which would make the athletic defender the second consecutive Cavalier taken number one after Morgan Brian was tabbed first last year by Houston.
If the Thorns go for a striker with the second pick Virginia forward Makenzy Doniak, Texas Tech’s Janine Backe, and St. John’s Rachel Daly lead the list, although Daly may be inclined to return home to England to begin her professional career. Penn State’s Costa Rican World Cup midfielder Raquel Rodriguez could also be tempted by an overseas offer.
Sky Blue FC and its new coach, to be announced later today,* pick third, the first of five picks for the New Jersey-based club. Four other teams match SkyBlue with five selections led by defending champion FC Kansas City. FCKC will be looking to replace Lauren Holiday, who has retired and Amy Rodriguez, who is pregnant. The Houston Dash will also make a big impact on this draft, with picks 5 and 6 in the first round.
Once again the fledgling league’s season will be interrupted and teams will lose players to international duty. Last year it was the World Cup that took important players away from NWSL teams, this year the Rio Olympics will be the culprit, so teams will need to draft wisely.
* SkyBlue promoted assistant coach Christy Holly to the head coaching position.
Here is the Draft order via NWSLsoccer.com
Round Pick Team
1 1 Portland Thorns FC (via ORL)
1 2 Portland Thorns FC ( via BOS)
1 3 Sky Blue FC
1 4 Seattle Reign FC (via WNYF)
1 5 Houston Dash ( via SRFC/PTFC)
1 6 Houston Dash
1 7 Washington Spirit
1 8 FC Kansas City
1 9 Western New York Flash (CRS)
1 10 Portland Thorns FC (via SRFC)*
2 11 Western New York Flash (ORL)
2 12 Washington Spirit (via BOS)
2 13 Sky Blue FC
2 14 Western New York Flash
2 15 Orlando Pride (via FCKC/WAS/PTFC)
2 16 FC Kansas City (via WAS/PTFC/HOU)
2 17 Boston Breakers (via CRS/WAS)
2 18 FC Kansas City
2 19 Chicago Red Stars
2 20 Washington Spirit (via BOS/PTFC/BOS/SRFC)
3 21 Portland Thorns FC (ORL)
3 22 Chicago Red Stars (via BOS)
3 23 Sky Blue FC
3 24 Western New York Flash
3 25 Seattle Reign FC (via PTFC)
3 26 Western New York Flash (via HOU)
3 27 Chicago Red Stars (via WAS)
3 28 FC Kansas City
3 29 Chicago Red Stars
3 30 Seattle Reign FC
4 31 Orlando Pride
4 32 Boston Breakers
4 33 Sky Blue FC
4 34 Washington Spirit (via WNYF)
4 35 Boston Breakers (via PTFC)
4 36 Sky Blue FC (HOU)
4 37 Washington Spirit
4 38 FC Kansas City
4 39 Chicago Red Stars
4 40 Seattle Reign FC
* = Due to future considerations these picks are not eligible to be traded.