The National Women’s Soccer League held their annual Draft at the Baltimore Convention Center. Open to the public, it had the look and feel of the typical American sports draft event. Drafted players are looking to make an impact on their team almost immediately.
The league announced last-minute trades prior to the draft’s start. Sky Blue FC, initially slated for the 2nd and 3rd picks in the first round, traded with the Chicago Red Stars to drop to 4th and 5th. Then, SBFC traded away their 4th, 13th, and 17th pick, AND a 2021 pick for “a player to be named later” from the Washington Spirit. Hours later, it was officially announced that this player will be USWNT wunderkind Mallory Pugh. She has tallied 16 goals and 16 assists in her 56 caps, including a debut goal and World Cup appearances. With Sky Blue’s 2020 home games at Red Bull Arena, Pugh’s star power could make Harrison an important women’s soccer destination beyond the SheBelieves Cup.
The Portland Thorns, having no reason to relinquish their #1 draft pick, selected Sophia Smith, most recently from Stanford University. Indeed, Stanford has been the college of the #1 NWSL draft pick three years running. The Cardinals’ program, headed by Paul Ratcliffe, is worth keeping an eye on going forward.
The dust having settled, the selections continued. Evelyne Viens, a forward from the University of South Florida, was the first selection for SBFC. Viens is from L’ancienne-Lorette, a suburb of Quebec City. Named The American Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2019, her accolades are impressive. She broke a number of USF program records this season, including for game-winning goals (10) and single season shots (113). Viens also broke conference records for goals (73) and total shots (360) in her career. She also arrived to USF speaking only French, but became fluent in English within three years.
Kayleigh Riehl, a defender from Penn State University, was SBFC’s 2nd round pick (11th overall). The NCAA all-time leader in minutes played by a position player, she also has US Youth National Team caps. She started all six matches for the United States U-20 Women’s National Team at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2016. The Centerback also maintained seven shutouts for the Nittany Lions during their 2019 season.
Amanda McGlynn was the 20th overall pick for SBFC. Going by ‘Mandy’ with the Virginia Tech Hokies, this goalkeeper is the all-time program leader in shutouts (32). She was also selected for the USYNT, a member of the U-18 Women’s Team under coach April Heinrichs. Her career goals against average is an impressive .989, something she can carry into her professional career.
For their final selection, Sky Blue went a little closer to home. Hailing from West Hartford, Connecticut, defender Chantelle Swaby was the 29th overall pick. Having spent her college career at Rutgers University, Swaby is right at home in New Jersey. A Jamaican-American player, she has spent valuable time with the Reggae Girlz as they traveled to France for their first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup bid. Swaby started all three Group Stage games.
Fans of Sky Blue are looking forward to the release of the 2020 NWSL schedule. It seems the team is ready to go as well: