As the National Women’s Soccer League prepares for an historic 5th college draft, Backline Soccer will be taking a look back at the previous 4 drafts and how each pick panned out.
Part 2 of our series examines the 2014 draft.
8. Nkem Ezurike (F) – Michigan
Ezurike lasted two forgettable seasons in Boston, struggling for playing time and scoring a paltry 3 goals. She signed in Sweden in 2016 after being dropped from allocation status.
13. Natasha Anasi (D/M) – Duke
Anasi elected not to play professional soccer.
21. Jazmine Reeves (F) – Virginia Tech
Reeves only played one season of professional soccer but broke the rookie record for goals with 7, including a hat trick against Portland. She retired from soccer after the 2014 season.
23. Mollie Pathman (D) – Duke
Pathman was a consistent starter on the backline in her two and a half seasons with the Breakers, playing every minute of the 2015 season. She retired from soccer halfway through the 2016 season.
32. Jami Kranich (GK) – Villanova
Kranich was named to the Boston roster in 2014 but did not make an appearance for the Breakers. She made 8 appearances in 2015 while Alyssa Naeher was away with the USWNT. After being waived before the 2016 season, Kranich was re-signed following an injury to Abby Smith and made 9 appearances. She was once again waived after the season.
34. Kim Decesare (F) – Duke
Decesare made only one appearance for Boston as an amateur in 2014 before signing with Eskilstuna in the Damallsvenskan. She returned to the NWSL for 2015, signing with Sky Blue.
Chicago Red Stars
3. Julie Johnston (D) – Santa Clara
A rising star on the USWNT, Johnston ended a strong rookie campaign for Chicago with a stoppage time penalty goal against WNY to earn a point for her club. Despite missing significant time on international duty in 2015 and 2016–winning a World Cup with the team in Canada and earning a spot on the Olympic roster for Rio–Johnston has been one of the best defenders in the NWSL.
4. Vanessa DiBernardo (M) – Illinois
In her first three seasons with Chicago DiBernardo has become a key figure in the Red Stars’ midfield, missing only one match and racking up 11 assists. Her performances helped the club earn two postseason appearances in 2015 and 2016. DiBernardo is currently in her second season on loan to Perth Glory in the Australian W-League.
22. Hayley Brock (F) – Maryland
Brock only played one season for the Red Stars and served primarily as a sub. She elected not to return to the league for 2015.
FC Kansas City
5. Kassey Kallman (D) – Florida State
A standout on the stingy Kansas City backline in 2014, Kallman was traded to Boston after the season and played every minute of both the 2015 and 2016 seasons for the Breakers. She is currently with Washington following a trade in November of 2016.
12. Morgan Marlborough (F) – Santa Clara
A talented forward in her college days, Marlborough struggled to make the jump to the professional level. After a few sub appearances for Kansas City in 2014, she was traded to Boston after the season. She had only 3 goals for the Breakers in 2015 and was waived in May of 2016 after one appearance.
16. Jenna Richmond (M) – UCLA
Richmond was a consistent starter for Kansas City in her rookie season, stepping in at DM for the departed Desiree Scott, and had an outstanding performance in the final to help the Blues win their first championship. She elected not to return for the 2015 season.
19. Frances Silva (M) – West Virginia
On a Kansas City roster stacked with NT-caliber players, Silva struggled to earn consistent time on the field in her three seasons. Her time with the Blues was spent mostly as a sub. Silva retired from soccer after the 2016 season.
20. Mandy Laddish (M) – Notre Dame
Laddish only made two brief appearances in 2014, but did earn a starting spot in 2015 and played all but one game in 2016.
35. Maegan Kelly (M) – Marquette
Kelly did not make the roster.
2. Kealia Ohai (F) – North Carolina
While Ohai produced decent seasons for Houston in 2014 and 2015, scoring 8 goals and missing only one game, 2016 proved to be the strongest for the Dash’s first-ever draft pick. After a quiet first half of 2016, Ohai erupted in the second-half, scoring 11 goals in 9 games. Her performance earned her a postseason call up to the USWNT, where she scored her first international goal only seconds after subbing onto the field.
10. Rafaelle Souza (F) – Mississippi
Souza’s lone season with Houston saw her used as a squad rotation player, making 16 appearances with 8 starts. She was waived by the club after the season and claimed by Kansas City. Souza did not sign with the Blues after being called into residency camp by Brazil.
11. Marissa Diggs (D) – Central Florida
Diggs made 13 appearances for Houston in 2014, and tallied one goal to earn the Dash a point against Washington. She retired from soccer after the 2014 season.
28. Jordan Jackson (M/F) – Nebraska
Jackson produced a decent rookie season in 2014 for the NWSL newcomers, but the arrival of USWNT players Morgan Brian and Carli Lloyd relegated her to the bench for most of 2015. She was waived by the club after the 2015 season.
Portland Thorns FC
25. Emily Menges (D) – Georgetown
In her three seasons with Portland, Menges has been a consistent presence on the Thorns’ backline, missing only 4 matches and playing every minute of the 2016 season. Her steady play earned her a call up to the USWNT in November of 2016.
31. Elisabeth Sullivan (F) – Mississippi State.
Sullivan made only one appearance for Portland in 2014 and was waived midseason.
Seattle Reign FC
7. Amanda Frisbie (D/F) – Portland
Frisbie missed all of 2014 due to injury and saw limited time with Western New York in 2015 and Kansas City in 2016. She was waived by KC midway through 2016 and won a league championship with Stjarnan in Iceland.
17. Megan Brigman (D) – North Carolina
Brigman made only two appearances for the Reign in 2014 and was waived after the season. She was in Western New York’s preseason camp in 2015, but did not sign with the Flash.
30. Ellen Parker (M)- Portland
Parker did not make the roster.
Sky Blue FC
6. Maya Hayes (F) – Penn State
After making 23 appearances for Sky Blue in 2014, Hayes missed several games in 2015 and 2016 due to injury, but still managed 3 goals in 2016.
15. Hayley Haagsma (D/M) – Texas Tech
Haagsma missed the 2014 season after suffering an ACL injury in preseason, but returned in 2015 and became a regular starter for Sky Blue. She retired from soccer after the 2015 season.
24. Michelle Pao (D/M) – Pepperdine
Pao did not make the roster.
33. Elizabeth Eddy (M/F) – USC
Eddy sat out the 2014 season and was traded to Western New York later that year. She was primarily a super sub for the Flash in 2015, but started every game in 2016 following a switch to RB.
1. Crystal Dunn (F) – North Carolina
While Dunn enjoyed a solid debut season for Washington in 2014 and helped the Spirit earn the first of three consecutive playoff berths, her best season so far came in 2015. She won the Golden Boot with 15 goals and was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player, earning a recall to the USWNT after the season. Despite missing a handful of games while on international duty in 2016, Dunn produced a team-leading 5 assists, and scored twice in the NWSL final in a losing effort for the Spirit.
26. Molly Menchel (D) – Virginia
Menchel did not sign with Washington, choosing to pursue opportunities in Europe. She returned to the NWSL in 2016 and signed with Kansas City where she made only 3 appearances. She was waved by the Blues after the season.
29. Shasta Fisher (D/M) – Virginia
Fisher did not make the roster.
Western New York Flash
9. Courtney Verloo (F) – Stanford.
Verloo made only one appearance for the Flash in 2014 and was waived midseason.
14. Cloee Colohan (D/M) – BYU
Colohan elected not to play professional soccer.
18. Kelsey Wys (GK) – Florida State
Wys started half the season for Western New York in 2014 and was traded to Washington after the season. World Cup and Olympic absences in 2015 and 2016 allowed Wys to earn substantial playing time for the Spirit, and she became the #1 at the end of 2016. While on loan to Newcastle Jets in the Australian W-League for the 2016-17 season, Wys suffered an ACL injury and is expected to miss significant time in 2017.
27. Annie Steinlage (D/M) – Virginia
Steinlage did not make the roster.
36. Kristen Hamilton (F) – Denver
Hamilton missed all of 2014 after suffering an ACL injury in preseason, but returned in 2015 and was mostly a sub in the following two seasons.
2014 was a step up from 2013. While a substantial number of players still failed to make the cut, many of the top picks have become established stars for their respective clubs.
Winner: FC Kansas City
It was a very close call between Kansas City and Chicago, but the performances of Kallman and Richmond in 2014 and Laddish in 2015 and 2016, plus the trade of Kallman and Marlborough for O’Reilly, pushed KC over the edge.
Honorable Mention: Chicago Red Stars
Loser: Western New York Flash
The Flash in 2014 had five picks available, and whiffed on most of them. Although Wys has performed well in Washington, Verloo, Colohan, and Steinlage were wasted picks, and Hamilton has been mostly a late-game sub.
Dishonorable Mention: Seattle Reign FC