Favorite Selections from 2024 NWSL Draft

01/15/2024

Read an article covering the best picks in the 2024 NWSL draft as the league reaches new heights.


1. Savy King - Bay FC

To say I loved a top-three pick is not exactly groundbreaking, but it must be said. Still 18 years old, fresh off a dominant Freshman season at North Carolina, King may have the highest upside of any player in the draft. Importantly for Bay FC, an expansion team needs a marquee name to build around, and they land that with King, who could have a similar impact to what Naomi Girma did for the San Diego Wave.


2. Brecken Mozingo - Utah Royals

The best franchises are self-aware of the geographical and community contexts they occupy, and the Royals took a massive step in the right direction by drafting Mozingo, a Utah native who starred at BYU, the state's predominant collegiate soccer force. The Royals land an immediate fan favorite who doubles as one of the best and most skillful prospects. It was a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the expansion side capitalized.


3. Leilanni Nesbeth - Chicago Red Stars

There is no question what kind of team Lorne Donaldson is looking to build. In his prior role leading the Jamaican Women's national team to the 2023 World Cup Round of 16, their best-ever finish, Donaldson put together a well-organized unit that was extremely difficult to break down and killed on the counter. If that is your preferred style, there is no better player to have drafted than Nesbeth, a ball-winning specialist who can carry through the midfield with the best of them. Time and time again, when Florida State scored a goal in transition, Nesbeth was the player who regained possession. The Red Stars did their homework, traded the third pick knowing Nesbeth would be available later on, and received Sam Staab from the Washington Spirit, an uber-consistent center-back whose aerial prowess is perfect for the Donaldson system.


4. Maycee Bell - Gotham FC

The defending champions had one pick all night, so to utilize it on a player whose potential could be the best in the draft was excellent decision-making. Bell struggled with injuries in the midst of her collegiate career, but she slowly returned to her best in the fall as a ball-playing center-back with world-class athleticism. If the Kansas native can put that injury history behind her, this could go down as the steal of the draft.


5. Washington Spirit Haul - Croix Bethune, Hal Hershfelt, Kate Wiesner, Makenna Morris, Anna Podojil, Courtney Brown

I LOVED everything the Washington Spirit did on draft night, having hired Jonatan Giraldez from Barcelona, widely considered among the best coaches in soccer. His signing opens the door for some marquee international and domestic players to make their way to the Spirit, which will eat up a large chunk of the salary cap, so the decision to go heavy on the draft is genius in that it allows the team to fill out the roster with cheap talent Giraldez can mold into his intensive ball-dominant tactical desires. High-profile stars teamed with over-performing collegiate draft picks can be the key to a Spirit title charge for years.


6. Bea Franklin - Chicago Red Stars

I can't get enough of the Chicago Red Stars. Bea Franklin was another excellent decision on draft night as an elite athlete from an Arkansas system that matches what Donaldson likes to do. Franklin was the SEC Midfielder of the Year as a box-to-box threat on a Red Raiders team that is routinely one of the most physically punishing in the NCAA due to the highly athletic composition of the roster. At 5'10" with excellent leaping ability and timing, the Washington native was arguably the best in the air in college soccer, scoring 11 headers in her career, a perfect addition to a defensively oriented coach who may look to play for set-pieces from time to time. Don't believe me on how good of an athlete Franklin is? Well, consider that she is currently playing on the Arkansas women's basketball team.


7. Kennedy Wesley - San Diego Wave

Having lost their starting left back to free agency and having a potential need at center back due to Abby Dahlkemper's recent injury struggles, the perfect pick for the Wave would have been a player who excels at center or left back. That combination is extremely rare, making it all the more perfect that the Wave drafted Wesley, an excellent option in both positions. Wesley was an All-American center back this season on a Stanford team whose only loss came in the national championship game, after having played the previous four years at left-back, including as a Freshman in 2019, where she started in the Cardinal national championship team alongside current San Diego Wave superstar, Naomi Girma.


8. Reilyn Turner - Racing Louisville

Racing Louisville had a giant need at forward, particularly the wing, going into the draft, and they left with by far the best option in Turner, a player with stylistic similarities to USWNT star Trinity Rodman. Turner is an elite athlete with a soccer brain to match, having scored double-digit goals in her four collegiate seasons, totaling 42 goals and 15 assists in 79 games while taking just two penalty kicks. The season could begin tomorrow, and Turner would be in the starting line-up for many NWSL teams, so anytime you land a prospect that is that pro-ready, you deserve major credit.



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