Draft recap: NWSL welcomes new players in Chicago
Davidson, Mace and DiBiasi go 1-2-3
The Chicago Red Stars had six picks at the 2019 NWSL College Draft. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/isiphotos.com)
The Chicago Red Stars had six picks at the 2019 NWSL College Draft. (Photo credit: Daniel Bartel/isiphotos.com)

Chicago —  At the 2019 NWSL College Draft on Thursday, Jan. 10, at the United Soccer Coaches Convention at McCormick Place, 36 new faces joined the NWSL for the league’s seventh season.

The Chicago Red Stars were right at home with the draft in their backyard and, with the first overall pick, selected Tierna Davidson out of Stanford University. Davidson, a junior for the Cardinal, registered for the draft in the last few days, giving up her final year of college eligibility to join the NWSL. Davidson learned that she was the first overall pick while she was in Portugal training with the U.S. women’s national team ahead of friendlies in France and Spain later this month.

“I’m really bummed that I couldn’t make it to the NWSL draft, but I’m extremely honored to have been chosen No. 1 overall by the Chicago Red Stars. I’d like to thank Rory [Dames, Red Stars head coach] and the rest of the Red Stars for having confidence in me,” Davidson said in a video recording from camp in Portugal. 

“Tierna is a player that doesn’t come a long very often,” Chicago Red Stars head coach Rory Dames told NWSL Media after the draft. “And not necessarily just the skill set, but her maturity level, the experience she already has internationally. She trains and plays with the best team in the world. Our players on that team have nothing but great things to say about her, and Hidecki [Nakada] and Paul [Ratcliffe], (Davidson’s coaches at Stanford), also have nothing but great things to say about her.”

Davidson was one of three Stanford players selected in the first round.

“It’s not usual to have a player that you can bring straight out of the college game that can step directly into your team and have an impact, and her impact is a little different also because she can go into the back, she leads the line, [she knows] when to step, when to drop, and [she knows how to] read the cues,” Dames said.

Cardinal teammate Jordan DiBiasi was selected at No. 3 by the Washington Spirit and was the first draft pick to be in attendance at the draft.

“I think my heart stopped for a second,” DiBiasi told the media when asked how she felt when her name was called. “And then it was just happiness and excitement. It means the world to me, I’m so thankful for the Washington Spirit taking a chance on me.”

The Spirit also selected Cardinal senior Tegan McGrady with the No. 7 overall pick. McGrady was also in Chicago to hear her name called.

“Every paper that I wrote in elementary school, I wrote that I wanted to be a professional soccer player,” McGrady told the media after being selected. “And to say that I’ve gotten to that point is one of the best feelings and another dream that I’ve accomplished.”

The Spirit had four picks in the first round after a trade between Sky Blue FC surfaced just minutes after the start of the draft. The Washington Spirit acquired the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft via trade from Sky Blue FC. In exchange, Washington sent the No. 29 selection in today’s draft and Caprice Dydasco, DiDi HaracicEstelle Johnson were all three traded to Sky Blue FC.

The Spirit got to celebrate on site with three of their selections in the first-round since No. 3 Jordan DiBiasi (Stanford), No. 4 Sam Staab (Clemson), No. 7 Tegan McGrady (Stanford) were all at the draft. Dorian Bailey (UNC) was chosen at No. 8 by the Spirit, but wasn’t in attendance.

DiBiasi and Staab have played together before at youth national team camps, and they were all smiles after being selected by the Spirit back-to-back.

“Playing with Jordan is going to be great,” Saab told the media when asked what she is most looking forward to this season. She also added that can’t wait to be part of an organization with “new management, new coaches and everything! I’ve had the chance to talk with a lot of their assistant coaches and the rest of their staff and they just seem like tremendous coaches.”

On January 8, just a couple days before the draft, the Spirit named Richie Burke as the new head coach. Burke got thrown right into it with the third overall pick at the 2019 draft, but said coming into this, he and his staff had a very clear game plan.

“Coming into this draft we were very clear about what we wanted and who we wanted to get, and we knocked it out the park. DiBiasi has got a can opener on both feet, she’s a tricky, creative, stylish, tactician,” Burke said. “She’s got a great football brain, a fantastic IQ, so that was a no brainer for me.”

Burke also mentioned DiBiasi’s name along with Mallory Pugh and Rose Lavelle as players he sees being creative on the ball this upcoming season.

The second round kicked off with Sky Blue FC making back-to-back picks (No. 10 and No. 11). Sky Blue FC earlier held the No. 2 overall pick and selected Haillie Mace out of UCLA. In the first round, Denise Reddy’s side also picked up Julia Ashley out of UNC with the No. 6 overall pick. Ashley, despite expressing how excited she was to be selected, told the media that she is undecided about what her next step will be for her professional career.

“I’ve been talking to my agent about possibly France, Sweden or Germany. I’m not sure yet, but it’s definitely an option.”

With the No. 10 pick, Sky Blue FC selected Paige Monaghan out of Butler University. Monaghan is from Succasunna, N.J., so she gets to return to her home pitch to start her professional career. “Im coming home!” Monaghan said at the draft.

Sky Blue then selected Julie James out of Baylor University at No. 11 overall.

The second round started heating up when the league took a time out following the No. 16 pick. The Thorns were on the clock with their first pick of the 2019 draft at No. 17, but traded the pick to the Spirit in exchange for the No. 31 pick and the Spirit’s natural second-round pick in the 2020 NWSL College Draft.

The third round drama came when the Chicago Red Stars traded their No. 24 overall pick to the Thorns in exchange for the Thorns’ No. 31 and No. 35 picks. The Thorns selected Emily Ogle out of Penn State, for their first pick at the draft.

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