Chicago — Stanford and U.S. women’s national team defender Tierna Davidson is now a member of the Chicago Red Stars. Davidson left Stanford early to join the NWSL and was picked first overall by the Chicago Red Stars at the start of the 2019 NWSL Draft in Chicago on Thursday morning.
Davidson, 20 years old and a junior at Stanford University, registered for the draft in the last few days, forgoing her final year of college eligibility to join the NWSL and take a more full-time role on the U.S. women’s national team as they prepare for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She learned of her selection in the draft while in Portugal training with the U.S. 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 message recorded at camp in Portugal and played after her selection.
“I’d also like to thank my coaches, teammates and family for pushing me to a better player and person both on and off the field, and supporting me in every decision that I make.”
Davidson was recently named U.S. Soccer’s Young Female Player of the Year. In 2018, she established herself a starter on the backline for the U.S. women’s national team. She started all 12 games in which she appeared. She played every minute of the SheBelieves Cup vs. Germany, France and England, earning the second, third and fourth caps of her career. She has one goal for the USWNT, scored on August 31 vs. Chile.
She broke her ankle in September vs. the University of North Carolina and did not play again for Stanford, missing the NCAA tournament. She also missed the United States qualifiers for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
“There were a couple of factors and, of course, numerous conversations, but I would say the biggest factor was putting me in the best position to develop as a soccer player in these coming months before the World Cup and beyond, looking at the very busy U.S. women’s national team schedule between now and the end of 2020,” Davidson said in a conference call with reporters of her decision to leave Stanford early. “Obviously there’s room to grow in every part of my game and I think that just elevating my game to the next level with the elite competition of the NWSL was the best way to go for me.”
Davidson finishes her college career with six goals and eight assists. She started 48 of the 49 games in which she played. In 2017, she was named College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player, helping to lead Stanford to the NCAA title.
“Over the past two and a half years at this institution I have grown as a player and a person each day. The support from faculty, coaches, classmates and teammates has enabled me to confidently make the decision to take the next step in my life and soccer career by entering the 2019 NWSL College Draft,” Davidson said in a video message posted on social media, thanking Stanford.
— Tierna Davidson (@tierna_davidson) January 10, 2019
“I will forever be indebted to this prestigious institution and its people, and I fully intend to return to achieve the highest honor I could ever earn as a Stanford student athlete — the completion of my bachelor’s degree,” she said in the video.
Davidson joins a Red Stars team with several teammates that she knows very well from the U.S. women’s national team. Red Stars captain Julie Ertz, goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, defender Casey Short, midfielder Morgan Brian and midfielder Danielle Colaprico are all with her in Portugal for training camp.
“They definitely helped me in my decision,” she said of her new Red Stars teammates. “They gave me a lot of good advice, the inner workings of the team, what the team culture was like, the personality of players on the team and they really helped me take a first person look into the team without actually being there, which was incredibly helpful. They’ve definitely welcomed me in really well and I already feel a part of the team.”
No. 1 picks in NWSL College Draft history:
2019 — Tierna Davidson
2018 — Andi Sullivan
2017 — Rose Lavelle
2016 — Emily Sonnett
2015 — Morgan Brian
2014 — Crystal Dunn
2013 — Zakiya Bywaters