2021 NWSL Draft Recap
Trades, special guests welcome new faces to the league

Even if this year’s NWSL Draft felt different, it certainly offered up all of the familiar drama.

From Allocation Money deals to draft day steals, let’s recap you on all of the twists and turns that last night’s five-hour draft had to offer:

Black women shine in the first round

One of the most important storylines to come out of last night’s draft is the diversity of the first-round selections. Six out of the first ten selections were Black women, highlighted by No. 2 overall pick Trinity Rodman and No. 3 pick Brianna Pinto. Rodman additionally is the youngest draftee in league history (18 yrs, 8 mos). 

The first round of the 2021 NWSL Draft marked the most diverse first round of a league draft since 2017, which saw Darian Jenkins and Midge Purce selected.

Emily Fox highlights Tar Heels trio of draftees

First off the board last night was defender Emily Fox, who joined UNC teammates Brianna Pinto and Taylor Otto in the first eleven players selected. Fox is the first No. 1 overall selection since 2017 (Rose Lavelle, Wisconsin) to not hail from Stanford University – and is the first Tar Heel to go No. 1 since 2014, when Crystal Dunn was drafted by the Washington Spirit.

Five schools earn first-ever selection in NWSL Draft

Among the historic firsts last night were the schools that saw their first-ever player selected in an NWSL Draft. Louisville kicked it off at No. 5, with Emina Ekic staying home with her selection by Racing Louisville FC. Boston University continued the trend in the second round, with the Washington Spirit’s selection of Anna Heilferty. Two more firsts closed out the third round, with UNC-Wilmington’s Sydney Schneider and Vanderbilt’s Myra Konte making history for their schools. Finally, a Kansas State Wildcat was selected for the first time in draft history, as Brooklyn Entz was drafted by Kansas City NWSL at No. 38.

Allocation Money, Cudjoe to Sky Blue highlight busy evening of trades

It just wouldn’t be a draft night without some dramatic trades.

In the middle of it all was Sky Blue FC, who came into the night with four of the first thirteen draft slots – and traded away three of them. Kansas City NWSL purchased the No. 4 overall pick for $175k in Allocation Money to take Kiki Pickett, while the Washington Spirit dished out $100k in allocation money along with two other picks to move up to Sky Blue’s No. 8 slot. Racing Louisville FC rounded out Sky Blue’s haul in their deal for the 13th pick – sending $35k and midfielder Jennifer Cudjoe back to New Jersey.

Additionally, Portland Thorns FC moved up to the No. 6 slot to select Yazmeen Ryan. To get the TCU star midfielder, the Thorns sent the No. 7 and No. 32 selections in the draft, along with a 2021 international slot, to the Chicago Red Stars.

Women Supporting Women: Special guests dazzle Draft Night

While they couldn’t attend draft night in person, last night’s Twitch stream saw a number of female athletes participate in announcing our draftees. An array of WNBA stars – highlighted by Angel City FC co-owner Candace Parker – were joined by 2018 Olympic Gold Medallist Meghan Duggan, 1992 Olympic Gold Medallist Summer Sanders, 2018 Paralympic Gold Medallist Oksana Masters and players from the WTA in helping us celebrate draft night right.

It’s a (Zoom) Party, It’s a (Zoom) Party

Although this year’s draft didn’t allow any classic podium moments, the digital draft brought with it its own batch of heart-warming celebrations and joyful first interviews with our very own Jordan Angeli. From surprise streamers to “that Pinto life”, here’s a collection of our favorites:

Welcome to the league, Rook!

Finally, there is no better draft night tradition than the league’s current players give warm welcomes to new teammates and opponents alike. This year was no different, with college pride in full swing:

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