Our NWSL Draft 2020 Preview

On January 16th, a dream will be fulfilled for numerous college stars in the 2020 NWSL Draft. All the time spent on constant improvement and development will come to fruition for 36 players. Now, it’s a little unfortunate that such a few number of great collegiate players will get drafted, but as the league expands that number will go up. Let’s take a closer look at the best from this NWSL draft class, as well as what each team needs ahead of the big day.


Before we get into the players who have already declared, there are some other big names who’ve yet to enter their name into the draft pool.

Jessie Fleming would surely be a top pick if she were to decide to stay in America, but Europe is definitely an option for her. The other key name is Sophia Smith, who has been rumored to enter her name with the Portland Thorns trading for the top pick. Both Smith and Fleming are very well known, but here are some other players who you should keep an eye on.

Tziarra King- Winger, NC State

Tziarra King is without a doubt one of the best players in this class. The winger was a game changer for the NC State Wolfpack in one of the top conferences, the ACC. The All-American can score and pass from the flank. And her skillset will make her a valuable asset to any team. Not only that, but she’s got quick feet with a great first touch and the ability to glide past defenders.

Kaleigh Riehl- Midfielder/Defender, Penn State

Kaleigh Riehl has been one of the best players at the college level for the last couple of years. Penn State is known for producing defensive stoppers and Riehl is the next in line. The defender was a key part of the PSU team that won the national title in 2015. By the time she was a junior, Riehl was an All-American. As a senior she was the anchor for a team that ran into Stanford in the NCAA Tournament. She’s got to be the top defender in this draft class.

Evelyne Viens- Striker, South Florida

Evelyne Viens might be the best pure goal-scorer in the draft, with an outstanding track record at USF. Seventy-three goals over four years is hard to do, the striker simply has a nose for goal. Her overall desire and hunger to score is apparent on film, as she is constantly taking on multiple defenders. A team will love to have her because of the intangibles that she brings to the table.

Natalie Jacobs- Forward/Midfielder/Defender, USC

Natalie Jacobs has to be one of the more “can’t-miss” prospects in this NWSL draft. The versatile college star proved herself in the ACC and Pac-12 with Notre Dame and USC. Here’s a crazy stat, in 87 total games she never missed one.

Despite playing at multiple positions, Jacobs managed to be incredibly durable over four years. With 26 goals and 23 assists, she’s as well-rounded of a prospect in the draft. Any team that takes her is getting a solid, consistent player.

Mandy McGlynn- Goalkeeper, Virginia Tech

There’s always a need for goalkeepers in the NWSL, with injuries and the best getting called in for international duty. Mandy McGlynn should be the first keeper taken after a great career at Virginia Tech. Over four years, 297 career saves is nothing too scoff at. Plus the keeper is coming off her best season with just 15 goals allowed. The second-team All-American has the chops to play in the NWSL for sure.


North Carolina Courage

As the defending champs, they don’t have much they can improve on, but the addition of Hallie Mace will bolster their depth. They could use another midfielder with McCall Zerboni gone in the trade, but the Courage draft well anyways, they will be fine.

Portland Thorns

The Thorns were lacking a true striker to deploy up top at the end of the season. Trading for the No. 1 pick to draft Sophia Smith seems like the perfect way to fill their need. Expect Portland to also look at some defenders to hope to replace Emily Sonnett.

Reign FC

Reign FC traded up to get the 9th pick and it’ll be interesting to see who they might be eyeing with their first couple of picks. When you look at their roster, Reign FC don’t have many holes. But they could always look to bolster their midfield, or maybe look to find a strike partner for Jodie Taylor or Bethany Balcer.

Chicago Red Stars

The Red Stars have really and truly gone for it by trading for Kealia Ohai and giving up Katie Naughton. However, they’ll still need another striker to replace Sam Kerr, and will have to bolster their backline a little bit with Naughton gone.

Houston Dash

Houston’s biggest issue has been defense, and trading for Katie Naughton solves that problem, but they still need more help. If Kaleigh Riehl is on the board, she’s an ideal fit to pair alongside Naughton.

Sky Blue FC

Sky Blue replaced Rocky Rodriguez with McCall Zerboni and it’s a great fit. However, they still need a goal-scorer because Carli Lloyd can’t do everything for this team. Purce and Dorsey on the wings has the potential to be really dangerous but a true No. 9 would be ideal for SBFC.

Orlando Pride

Orlando honestly needs help at every position and Caitlin Foord isn’t likely to stick around. They didn’t draft well last year, but hopefully they can get it right with a defender or midfielder to help out players like Marta and Alanna Kennedy.

Washington Spirit

The Spirit have a ton of young talent already and went the foreign route to sign some more experienced players. As many of the other teams need, a striker would help the Spirit to pair alongside Ashley Hatch. Mallory Pugh needs to be healthy, but they are set at the back and at goalkeeper. They could look to add a backup like Mandy McGlynn if possible.

Utah Royals FC

The Royals lost Laura Harvey but will likely maintain their defensive identity. A nice attack-minded winger to put on the other side of Christen Press would be ideal. However, there simply aren’t many in this NWSL draft class. We’ll have to see how it goes for them in this year’s draft.



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