The 2017 NWSL Draft is Here

Ugh, the offseason. Months of tedium and zero news. A looooong wait for anything important.

Not this year!

This offseason has been packed with news. The 2016 NWSL Champion Western NY Flash have moved to Cary, NC and become the North Carolina Courage. Just last week! Today, FC Kansas City announced that it would stay in Kansas City, but that the team has been sold. Crazy.

Your 2016 NWSL Champions, the former WNY Flash and future North Carolina Courage

Your 2016 NWSL Champions, the former WNY Flash and future North Carolina Courage

Naturally, there have been tons of players shipped around the country and the world via trade or team relocation or new contracts. A few players have retired, and a few others, notably Alex Morgan and Crystal Dunn, have decided to play overseas this year (Morgan will return to the Orlando Pride in June). 

Australia's W-League has been covered by ESPN3 this winter, giving NWSL fans a chance to stay up late and watch some of their favorites compete in incredibly hot conditions on gorgeous grass pitches. Boston's Natasha Dowie has been on fire, though her Melbourne Victory sit at or near the bottom of the "ladder." Sam Kerr has also looked like a world-beater.

Canada has tossed a wrench in the 2017 NWSL season in two ways:
1. Kadeisha Buchanan, sparkly new MAC Hermann trophy in tow, has joined Alex Morgan at OL in France, where she'll compete against her fellow Canadian/WV Mountaineer, PSG's newest acquisition, Ashley Lawrence. Neither will be NWSL draftees.
2. Friday, there will be a press conference to announce the retirement of several Canadian women. Christine Sinclair is thought to NOT be among them, but Diana Matheson might be. 

Oh, right, the USWNT's Collective Bargaining Agreement expired at the end of the year, shortly after the players replaced their legal counsel. Neither side has been very vocal of late, which hopefully means progress is being made. However, with 60 days notice from either side, the agreement could be tossed aside and work (play) stopped. Cross your fingers. Still, it will be interesting to see how soon we get a list of allocated players for 2017. Hope Solo is unlikely to be on that list, and Whitney Engen was told in the fall she's not in Jill Ellis's future plans. Will either play in the league this season? Time will tell, but I'm not betting on it. A large call-up camp starts later this week, with a few likely high draft picks getting a senior camp nod.

Mock Draft

I started to work up a mock draft for Round 1,  but it's a strange exercise because Boston has four of the first 10 picks, and also picks first in Round 2. Basically, if there is a highly regarded player that you're hoping Boston will pick, there is a 45% chance she'll be a Breaker* tomorrow afternoon. Unless, of course, Coach Beard has his eyes on one or more established players to bring in via trade.

*This may or may not be how math works.

Watch the real draft on YouTube. They're also broadcasting via FaceBook Live, but based on how that worked out for the North Carolina Courage announcement this week, I'd stick to the YouTube feed for the biggest #FURT for your buck.

OK, here we go.

I'll operate under the assumption (which will probably be wrong) that no trades will happen in round 1. Still, only five teams will select players in this round.

On this tweeted picture by the Breakers as they took off from Logan earlier this week, it's possible to see what I think is a straight line as what looks to be the first letter of a name on the jersey. On FaceBook, the team was encouraging fans to vote for the first pick from amongst four players.

These women are, clockwise from the top left, Savanah Jordan, Rose Lavelle, Christina Gibbons and Morgan Andrews.

I don't think Boston will grab Savanah Jordan first, because she's supposedly flirting with playing in Europe. However, she's super impressive and seems like a very good pro prospect. They can afford to see if she drops to one of their later picks, especially with in-form Beard player Natasha Dowie on board for 2017. Morgan Andrews's name has a slanted first letter, as does Gibbons's.

Therefore, my guess at #1 is Rose Lavelle. She's a bit undersized, but has dominated in the stout Big10, so I think she'll be fine after a bit of adjustment. Her ball skills are second to none, and her vision and football IQ make her a very worthy top pick. Welcome to Boston, Rose Lavelle. I think.

1st Boston Breakers -> Rose Lavelle's bulldog Wilma joins Chunk on the sidelines.

2nd NC Courage -> Christina Gibbons from Duke stays in NC.

3rd Boston Breakers -> Morgan Andrews, a NH native, MAC Hermann finalist and NCAA Champ brings her hometown fans to Boston.

4th Sky Blue FC -> Ashley Hatch. The BYU forward should contribute immediately.

5th FC Kansas City -> Savanah Jordan is too tempting for a team needing goals.

6th Seattle Reign -> Kayla Mills. The stout defender heads up the coast with her NCAA ring.

7th NC Courage -> Toni Payne. I have a hunch that NC will try to grab NC talent.

8th Boston Breakers -> Nickolette Driesse adds good midfield depth for Boston.

9th Boston Breakers -> Rachel Hill heads north from UConn with her fans.

10th Sky Blue FC -> McKenzie Meehan. Or, if not, she goes to / stays in Boston at 11.

I've checked out a number of other people's draft guesses, and most of them will certainly do better than this. Pretty sure one or more of them agreed on the 10 players that will get selected, but I don't recall seeing any of them in this order. Sooooo.... we'll find out tomorrow!