The 2024 NWSL Draft provides another opportunity for each of the league’s 14 teams to staff up ahead of the new season, this time with some promising talent out of college.
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The best case scenario for all 14 of the league’s sides will be to find some meaningful depth before the season starts. Having talented players in the rotation will be crucial for NWSL teams in 2024, since two new expansion teams means a longer regular season, while the expanded playoffs and creation of a new midseason tournament during the Olympics means minutes are up for grabs.
That said, each team will no doubt have their own priorities in mind once they are officially on the clock. That’s especially true for the likes of Bay FC and the Utah Royals, the incoming sides with the top two draft picks and roster spots to offer before they kick off the 2024 season.
Here’s a look at each team’s needs before Friday’s draft.
Angel City: Attacking depth
With no first round pick at this time, the Los Angeles-based team is clearly on the search for depth rather than someone who can slot into the lineup right away. Angel City could shore up their midfield and forward line, especially after losing Savannah McCaskill in the free agency market to the San Diego Wave. If a strong option is available by the time their name is called, they should swoop right in for that player.
Bay FC: Someone who’s ready on day one
With just 11 players on the roster and a few short weeks before preseason begins, Bay FC’s roster selection is a slow build that needs to speed up. The good news for the Northern California side is that they have the No. 2 pick and can pick from a wide variety of players since they have gaps all over their roster right now.
Chicago Red Stars: Defensive strength
After losing Tierna Davidson to NJ/NY Gotham FC and Bianca St-Georges to the North Carolina Courage during the free agency window, the Red Stars could use some defensive depth as they begin a new era under head coach Lorne Donaldson. A solid defense was also key to Donadlson’s success at last year’s Women’s World Cup with Jamaica.
Houston Dash: Midfield option
Another side without a first round pick, the Dash can still use the opportunity to shore up their midfield. The team already has a strong back line and posted one of the best defensive records of the 2023 season, plus has a promising attack brewing with the NWSL’s highest-paid player Maria Sanchez leading the way. Options in midfield to connect those operations would come in handy.
Kansas City Current: Improving back line
The Current had one of the worst defensive performances of 2023, something that could become an outlier rather than a pattern as Vlatko Andonovski takes charge. They also do not have a first round pick but should pick a defensive-minded player that can at least play understudy to the team’s first choices.
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NJ/NY Gotham FC: Another forward
After their unprecedented free agency sweep, Gotham seem like the team that has everything they could possibly need. Dipping into the pool of draft picks will not hurt the reigning champions, though, especially if a talented forward is still available to them. While Lynn Williams, Midge Purce and Esther Gonzalez are expected to start, someone who will offer depth could come in handy.
North Carolina Courage: Instant attacking contributor
With Kerolin out for some time after sustaining an ACL tear in October and losing Tess Boade in the expansion draft, the Courage might be short on attacking options in 2024. There will be a handful available to them by the time they’re on the clock with the No. 5 pick and should be able to land one of the class of 2024’s top talents.
OL Reign: A top pick
The Reign do not currently have a first round pick, but it might be a decent idea to trade for one. The Seattle-based side are short on star power after Megan Rapinoe retired and Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett moved to Gotham, and with an impending ownership transition potentially slowing down high-profile player recruitment, the Reign should use the draft to land an instant contributor who is sure to make an impact.
Orlando Pride: Choices up top
The Pride’s rebuild is very much underway with some solid midfield signings, but they could use a forward to complement the roster-building mission. Someone who can fill in immediately is always ideal but not necessary, as long as they end up serving as an important option as the season winds down.
Portland Thorns: Defensive focus
The Thorns had a relatively porous back line in 2023 and lost longtime center back Emily Menges in the expansion draft to Bay FC. Coupled with the fact that Becky Sauerbrunn and Meghan Klingenberg are out of contract, defense should be a priority in general for the Thorns this offseason, and the draft might be able to help with that.
Racing Louisville: Impactful striker
Louisville lost South Africa standout Thembi Kgetlana after she moved to Tigres this offseason, while free agents Jessica McDonald and Nadia Nadim will not return to the club. It means Racing have a few vacancies up top and might be able to fill them with someone from this year’s draft class.
San Diego Wave: Defenders or midfielders
Last year’s Shield winners have one of the most complete rosters in the league so the draft will be helpful in lining up depth. While the attack seems to be evolving nicely with McCaskill’s addition and Jaedyn Shaw’s progression, there might be room for reliable rookies behind them.
Utah Royals: Any depth will do
They are further ahead in their roster build than Bay are but could still use any and all talented players available to them. As the team that holds the No. 1 pick, expect Utah to land one of the draft class’ best players who could contribute fairly quickly as the team marks their comeback in 2024.
Washington Spirit: Talent in midfield
The Spirit boast one of the most exciting attacking trios in the league with Trinity Rodman, Ashley Sanchez and Ashley Hatch, but adding players who could pitch in behind them won’t hurt. Depth there might be extra useful in the wake of Tori Huster’s retirement, too.
- Date: Friday, January 12
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- Place: United Soccer Coaches Convention — Anaheim, California
- TV: iON
- Live stream: iON plus