FRISCO, Texas (April 18, 2016) — The National Women’s Soccer League kicked off its fourth season this past weekend, with a majority of the players on the league’s 10 opening-day rosters having grown up playing competitively in US Youth Soccer programs.
In total, 98 percent of the 149 American players on NWSL rosters played in at least one competitive US Youth Soccer program while growing up — with a majority of those players having competed in multiple programs.
The NWSL rosters feature 127 alumnae of US Youth Soccer ODP, accounting for 85 percent of Americans and 66 percent of all players in the league. Additionally, at least 17 NWSL players were part of winning teams at the annual US Youth Soccer ODP Championships. Orlando Pride forward Jamia Fields won the 2009 ODP Championships Golden Boot, while Boston Breakers goalkeeper Abby Smith won the 2009 ODP Championships Golden Glove.
There are also 126 NWSL players who competed in the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series, and at least 17 managed to help their youth teams capture coveted US Youth Soccer National Championships. Six players earned Golden Ball honors at Nationals, including Casey Short (Chicago), Christen Press (Chicago), Cara Walls (Chicago), Maddy Evans (Orlando), Emily Sonnett (Portland) and Taylor Smith (WNY). Meanwhile, FC Kansas City keeper Katelyn Rowland won the Golden Glove award in 2008.
Six NWSL teams feature multiple US Youth Soccer National Champions, and the Chicago Red Stars lead the way with five different US Youth Soccer National Champions on their roster.
The US Youth Soccer National League also has a presence in the NWSL, as 13 players were part of youth teams that earned their way into the league. The top pick in each of the last two NWSL Drafts — Emily Sonnett in 2016 and Morgan Brian in 2015 — are each National League alums, while 2015 NWSL Rookie of the Year Danielle Colaprico also played in the National League.
Albertson Soccer Club (NY-E) boasts the most alumnae in the NWSL of any youth club, as seven former players are currently on rosters — including reigning NWSL MVP Crystal Dunn. Slammers FC (CA-S) are second with six former players in the league.
Each of the eight American goal-scorers from the NWSL’s Week 1 action played in US Youth Soccer ODP, while five competed in US Youth Soccer NCS competitions and one was a member of a US Youth Soccer National League team. Four of the goal-scorers are current members of the U.S. Women’s National Team — Samantha Mewis, Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Lindsey Horan — and each of the four shared backgrounds playing in both US Youth Soccer ODP and US Youth Soccer NCS competitions.
The NWSL season will continue throughout the spring and summer, as the 10 teams compete for one of four playoff berths. The NWSL Championship is scheduled to take place Oct. 9 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas, and will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1.
For a complete NWSL 2016 schedule, click here.
US Youth Soccer, the nation’s largest youth sports organization, has been providing an opportunity for all kids to play the game for more than 40 years. From beginners to recreation players to competitive players, there is a US Youth Soccer program that fits the desires of all kids looking to enjoy the great benefits of playing soccer. For more information on US Youth Soccer programs, click here.