NWSL Draft winners and losers: North Carolina Courage reload with three first rounders, California love, more

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Round one of the 2022 NWSL draft on Paramount+ is in the books as three deals rocked the system along the way on an eventful day. OL Reign moved into the first round to take the eighth overall pick in a deal with NJ/NY Gotham FC which they used to pick St.John’s forward Zsanett Kajan. Orlando Pride also took 10th place in Rennes’ pick to pick Santa Clara forward Julie Doyle. This was the exact day for Reign as they shipped midfielder Kelcie Hedge to the Houston Dash and acquired defender Phoebe McClerno to Orlando in the 10th deal.

To learn more about each trade made during the draft, click here. For now, let’s first dive into the winners and losers of the first round.

Winner: California Love

With five inductees out of the state, led by Stanford’s Naomi Jerma being the first overall pick, the talent of college football’s talent continues to produce. Girma could be used along the backline or as a defensive midfielder for San Diego, but she was easily one of the most talented prospects and could become a key USWNT player in the future. Also from the state are Savannah DeMello, Mia Fishel, Julie Doyle and Caitlin Frigulia.

Loser(s): Teams that were not selected from the first round

After a commercial frenzy in preparation for the project, the Chicago Red Stars, Washington Spirit and Angel City were all left without first-round picks. While all three teams are not affected in the same way, seeing young talent walk off the plate without a chance to replenish your list of cutting-edge talent outside of college is always painful. For a Chicago team that has already lost a lot in the off-season, it should throw resources at the draft rather than avoid it. On the other hand, you could argue that Angel City FC, a newcomer, is taking a little risk by relying on experienced professional talent who could make them an accessory team in their inaugural season rather than watching long-term development through the draft.

Winner(s): Racing Louisville and NC Courage

Any team with multiple picks in the first round should be considered a winner in such a talented draft, but Racing Louisville knocked it out of the park by picking Jalen Howell and Savannah DeMello to rebuild their midfield. The Courage checked each box adding a defender (Kaitlin Fregulia, #12), a midfielder (Emily Gray, #3) and a striker (Diana Ordoñez, #6) in Round 1 to strengthen the backbone of their new roster. Gray was involved in 50 percent of Virginia’s goals last collegiate season and could provide a much-needed boost to a team that needs it.

Loser: University of California

The strong Pac-12 side lost coach Amanda Cromwell and top striker Mia Fishel to Orlando Pride putting them in a position where they need to reload to stay in the competition. Fishel scored 12 goals while providing five assists which played an important role as she increased her production from the 2019-20 season. While she will need to evolve in the league, there is no better way to do that than coaching her old coach at Cromwell. UCLA will have a lot to rebuild and move forward.

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