Analyzing the Chaos of the 2023 NWSL Draft


While the future for several organizations looks very promising with newly drafted players, a lot of teams used this year as a chance to prepare better for now. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Julia Moss, Contributing Writer

Draft time in any sports league is typically a time for teams to look to the future and try to set them up for success with young talent. The extensive scouting, strategizing and dreaming for a good pick is usually the overarching narrative of each year around draft time. However, this year’s National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) draft distinctly challenged that idea. Surprisingly, the biggest story of this year’s draft was how teams are shaping up for a win-now philosophy.

Of the twelve first-round picks, eight were acquired by trade, and with these trades, a lot of players got shifted to new teams. It didn’t take long for the biggest shocker of the night to be shared. Directly following the announcement of Angel City FC’s first overall pick, Alyssa Thompson, it was revealed that Gotham FC would trade their second overall pick to the Kansas City Current in exchange for United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) forward Lynn Williams.

Williams, coming off an Achilles injury, was traded last season from the North Carolina Courage to the Current, but because of her Achilles tear, she never got to appear in a match for the team. It’s a risky trade for both sides, with the Current trading what could have been their best player to invest in young talent, and for Gotham, they are betting on a good recovery from Williams to bring her the same success as before. On a positive note, Williams recently played her first game back from the injury for the USWNT and headed in a beautiful goal, so it seems her recovery is on the right track.

Another trade involved the second most notable team in the draft, the Courage. The Courage, who had three of the twelve first-round picks heading into the draft, had the room to make several moves to expedite a rebuild, as they’ve lost most of the core that’s brought them championships in the past. The first move they made was to trade for another first round pick to bring their total to four. They traded away forward Diana Ordoñez and a third round pick to the Houston Dash in exchange for the eighth overall pick, next year’s first round pick, allocation Monday and an international spot. It’s a questionable choice for the Courage considering Ordoñez was one of their last goal scorers left on the team, but after reports claiming she wanted to leave, it became more clear why N.C. moved forward with the trade.

The last notable trade occurred at the end of the night. It was announced that USWNT defender Emily Sonnett would be traded from the Washington Spirit to the powerhouse of a team, OL Reign. This trade has several implications for the overall picture of the league. Firstly, it’s clear Washington is looking to rebuild their back line with youth as their two veteran defensive leaders are now gone, with Kelley O’Hara heading to Gotham and now Sonnett going to Seattle. Furthermore, OL Reign has built on what some already consider to be a championship lineup. The Reign now have Sonnett, Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle, Jordan Huitema and others who would make impacts alone on any team.When all was said and done and the chaos subdued, 48 new players were drafted into the league. While the headlines of the draft won’t necessarily reflect the players selected, the future is rich with talent for the NWSL. Now, Thompson is clear to provide a foundation for the next generation of stars as the first player to ever be drafted out of high school into the league.

With several rosters shaken up through trades and the very first season that includes a free agency period, this season in the NWSL is sure to be interesting.