Newly Drafted Soccer Players of Color to Watch

Growing up, Crystal Dunn told Sports Illustrated she was “basically the only black girl on [her] team.” Sadly, her experience is not an anomaly. As Hope Solo once put it, “Soccer, right now, has become a rich, white kid sport.” And, controversial as Solo may be, she isn’t wrong in this instance. The lack of diversity in women’s soccer is a direct result of the country’s hotly contested pay-to-play model. With the door to youth soccer in the U.S. shut to so many right at the beginning of their playing careers, the issue of diversity trickles up through the system to the NWSL. In 2016, over 75 percent of the soccer players in the league were white — a staggering figure that’s hard to argue with. 

While a shake-up to the current system is likely far-off (if it comes at all), there are some stellar women of color who were drafted into the NWSL in 2020. In honor of Black History Month, here are a few of the players who could truly make a splash in the league. 

Sophia Smith – Portland Thorns

Sophia Smith is a star in the making. In a move that mirrored what could have been in 2017, when Mallory Pugh left UCLA early in the hopes she’d get scooped up by the Portland Thorns, Sophia Smith declared for the NWSL Draft after the Thorns acquired the first round pick. 

Smith’s name has been a topic of conversation in the women’s soccer world for a few years now, notably scoring for the U-23 USWNT against the Portland Thorns in 2017. Big things are expected of her in the 2020 NWSL season, and we’re excited to see her play at the highest level. 

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Sophia Smith drafted to Portland Thorns NWSL

Tziarra King – Utah Royals FC

Tziarra King comes from a program that, until recently, wasn’t a big player in women’s soccer: North Carolina State. In fact, she’s the first player from NC State to be drafted into the NWSL in the league’s history. However, her achievements speak for themselves.

Throughout her college career, King rose to make program history, scoring 48 goals in her 88 appearances. She’ll be joining big names like Christen Press and Vero Boquete, so if her nose for goals translates well to the NWSL, she’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

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Tziarra King drafted to Utah Royals NWSL

Konya Plummer – Orlando Pride 

With the tenth pick overall, Orlando Pride selected Konya Plummer from the University of Central Florida. This pick made history, as she became the first Jamaican drafted into the league. This isn’t Plummer’s first brush with playing at the highest level. You might recognize her as the captain of the Jamaican national team at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. 

Though the Jamaican team didn’t make it far into the tournament, that experience will no doubt be instrumental as Plummer tries to force her way into the Orlando Pride system. 

Konya Smith drafted to Orlando Pride NWSL

Abi Kim – Orlando Pride

Though selected later in the draft, don’t write off Abi Kim’s staying power in the NWSL just yet. She’s represented the USWNT at the youth level and, as a forward, could fill a need for the Orlando Pride. Alex Morgan will be out for most, if not all of, the season, and Rachel Hill, a reliable forward who could be counted on when the Pride’s plethora of national team players are away, was traded away.

Abi Kim drafted to Orlando Pride NWSL


Addisyn Merrick – North Carolina Courage

The North Carolina Courage has won the last two NWSL Championships for a reason. They boast one of the best rosters in the league with players like Crystal Dunn, Jessica McDonald, and Lynn Williams. 

As a defender, Addisyn Merrick will have a bit of an uphill climb ahead of her as she tries to break into the Courage fold. She’ll be competing for spots with league mainstays like Abby Erceg, Jaelene Hinkle, and Merrit Mathias. However, as Mathias is still recovering from a torn ACL, Merrick may just have a shot. 

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Addisyn Merrick drafted to North Orlando NWSL



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