By CAITLIN MURRAY
A lock for the U.S. Women’s National Team for the past year, 21-year-old Morgan Brian is now a professional soccer player, too.
The Houston Dash selected Brian as the No. 1 overall draft pick Friday at the National Women’s Soccer League draft in Philadelphia. Brian, an attacking midfielder from the University of Virginia widely expected to be selected first, won her second consecutive MAC Hermann Trophy last week and represented the USWNT at World Cup qualifying in fall.
UCLA rounded out the next three selections, with midfielder Sarah Killion selected No. 2 by Sky Blue FC, Abby Dahlkemper at No. 3 by the Western New York Flash and midfielder Samantha Mewis at No. 4, also by the Flash. Mewis is currently with the USWNT at the team’s first training camp of the year, but remains a bubble player there.
With the World Cup set for this summer, this year’s draft is likely the most important in the league’s short history. During and before the tournament, many of the top players in the league, including all allocated players, will miss stretches of the season to be with their national teams, placing new importance on the young drafted talent to fill in the gaps.
The league will be adding a break for the tournament to minimize the losses, but there will still be disruptions. A source told SBI that a USWNT pre-World Cup residency camp could be as long as three months and force the league’s biggest stars to miss several games, but nothing officially has been announced.
Here is the list of draft selections from the 2015 NWSL College Draft:
1. Houston Dash — Morgan Brian, Virginia
2. Sky Blue FC — Sarah Killion, UCLA
3. Western New York Flash — Abby Dahlkemper, UCLA
4. Western New York Flash — Sam Mewis, UCLA
5. Chicago Red Stars — Stephanie McCaffrey, Boston College
6. Western New York Flash — Lynn Williams, Pepperdine
7. Western New York Flash — Jaelene Hinkle, Texas Tech
8. Chicago Red Stars — Arin Gilliland, Kentucky
9. Chicago Red Stars — Danielle Colaprico, Virginia
10. Sky Blue FC — Kristin Grubka, Florida State
11. Chicago Red Stars — Sofia Huerta, Santa Clara
12. FC Kansas City — Shea Groom, Texas A&M
13. Washington Spirit — Megan Oyster, UCLA
14. Boston Breakers — Jamia Fields, Florida State
15. Seattle Reign FC — Havana Solaun, Florida
16. FC Kansas City — Meghan Streight, Texas A&M
17. FC Kansas City — Katelyn Rowland, UCLA
18. Western New York Flash — Tatiana Coleman, Central Florida
19. Washington Spirit — Caprice Dydasco, UCLA
20. Boston Breakers — Samantha Lofton, James Madison
21. Western New York Flash — Sabrina D’Angelo, South Carolina
22. Sky Blue FC — Daphne Corboz, Georgetown
23. Chicago Red Stars — Cara Walls, Wisconsin
24. Boston Breakers — Bianca Brinson, Texas A&M
25. Sky Blue FC — Shade Pratt, Maryland
26. FC Kansas City — Jessica Ayers, Colorado College
27. Chicago Red Stars — Nicole Setterlund, Washington State
28. Sky Blue FC — Chioma Ubogagu, Stanford
29. Boston Breakers — Stephanie Verdoia, Seattle
30. Washington Spirit — Whitney Church, Penn State
31. Houston Dash — Carleigh Williams, Central Florida
32. Chicago Red Stars — Rachel Tejada, Illinois State
33. Boston Breakers — Bianca Calderone, Northeasetern
34. Sky Blue FC — Lo’ea LaBonte, Stanford
35. FC Kansas City — Kaysie Clark, Missouri
36. Seattle Reign FC — Kendall Romine, Stanford
What do you think of these draft selections? Think Morgan Brian can help the Dash recover from a poor debut season? Think the Flash’s four first-round picks will help them make the playoffs?
Share your thoughts below.