All 16 Americans selected in first two rounds played US Youth Soccer programs
FRISCO, Texas (Jan. 22, 2016) — Several US Youth Soccer alumnae heard their names called at the 2016 NWSL Draft in Baltimore, Md., as the players took the first step in kicking off their professional careers. Of the 36 Americans drafted, 34 grew up playing US Youth Soccer, with a majority having competed in multiple US Youth Soccer programs.
With the first overall pick, the Portland Thorns selected Virginia defender Emily Sonnett, who played her youth soccer with NASA Elite (GA). Sonnett won the Golden Ball while helping NASA 12 Elite II to the 2013 US Youth Soccer Under-19 National Championship, and she credited her youth coaches for helping her advance to where she is today.
“Winning the National Championship at the U-19 level is a great way to go out [in your youth soccer career],” Sonnett said in a September 2015 interview with US Youth Soccer. “It was a goal my teammates and I had for a very long time. To be able to come back and finish up by winning was great.”
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All 16 Americans drafted in the first two rounds played US Youth Soccer, and 15 participated in US Youth Soccer ODP and 13 were part of teams that advanced to at least the Regional Championships stage of the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series.
Each of the eight American players selected in the first round of the draft participated in both US Youth Soccer ODP and the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series.
Sonnett’s NASA team also competed for multiple years in the US Youth Soccer National League, where she finished as the leading scorer in her age group in the 2010-11 season. Including Sonnett, three of the first five Americans drafted played in the National League — No. 3 pick Christen Westphal played for Internationals (OH-N) and No. 7 pick Cheyna Williams competed in the league with United FA (GA).
This marked the second straight season that the No. 1 overall draft pick in the NWSL Draft was an alumna of US Youth Soccer NCS, US Youth Soccer National League and US Youth Soccer ODP. In 2015, Morgan Brian was selected first overall after having competed in all three programs as a youth player.
In all, the 2016 NWSL Draft featured 29 US Youth Soccer ODP alumnae, 30 players who competed in the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series and 11 players who were part of US Youth Soccer National League teams.
The first two goalkeepers selected in the draft — picks No. 26 Britt Eckerstrom and No. 27 Abby Smith — also hold a unique connection. In addition to each having played in multiple US Youth Soccer programs, both keepers were finalists for the 2009 US Youth Soccer Save of the Year award.
See below for the full list of 2016 NWSL Draft selections.
-- Round 1 --
No. 1 – Emily Sonnett – Portland Thorns FC (GA) ^*#
No. 2 – Raquel Rodriguez – Sky Blue FC
No. 3 – Christen Westphal – Boston Breakers (OH-N) ^*#
No. 4 - Carson Pickett – Seattle Reign FC (FL) ^*
No. 5 – Cari Roccaro – Houston Dash (E-NY) ^*
No. 6 – Rachel Daly – Houston Dash
No. 7 – Cheyna Williams – Washington Spirit (GA) ^*#
No. 8 – Janine Beckie – Houston Dash (CO) ^*
No. 9 – Michaela Hahn – Western NY Flash (FL) ^*
No. 10 – Samantha Witteman – Orlando Pride (CA-S) ^*
-- Round 2 –
No. 11 – Makenzy Doniak – Western NY Flash (CA-S) ^*
No. 12 – Cali Farquharson – Washington Spirit (AZ) *
No. 13 – Leah Galton – Sky Blue FC
No. 14 – Mallory Weber – Western NY Flash (MI) ^*
No. 15 – Christina Burkenroad – Orlando Pride (CA-S) ^
No. 16 – Katie Bowen – FC Kansas City
No. 17 – Brittany Ratcliffe – Boston Breakers (NJ) ^*#
No. 18 – Brianne Reed – FC Kansas City (NJ) ^
No. 19 – Katie Naughton – Chicago Red Stars (IL) ^*
No. 20 – Alli Murphy – Washington Spirit (TX-N) ^
-- Round 3 --
No. 21 – McKenzie Beryhill – Portland Thorns FC (AZ) ^*
No. 22 – Sarah Gorden – Chicago Red Stars (IL) ^*#
No. 23 – Erica Skroski – Sky Blue FC
No. 24 – Laura Liedle – Western NY Flash (CA-S) ^*
No. 25 – Paige Nielson – Seattle Reign FC (NE) ^*#
No. 26 – Britt Eckerstrom – Western NY Flash (MD) ^*
No. 27 – Abby Smith – Boston Breakers (TX-N) ^*#
No. 28 – Alexa Newfield –FC Kansas City (GA) ^*
No. 29 – Caroline Casey – Sky Blue FC (VA) ^
No. 30 – Summer Green – Seattle Reign FC (MI) ^*
-- Round 4 --
No. 31 – Dani Weatherholt – Orlando Pride (CA-S) ^*#
No. 32 – Courtney Raetzman –Chicago Red Stars (IL) ^*
No. 33 – Janelle Flaws – Chicago Red Stars (IL) *#
No. 34 – Madalyn Schiffel – Washington Spirit
No. 35 – Adrienne Jordan – Chicago Red Stars (CO) *
No. 36 – Candace Johnson – Chicago Red Stars (TX-N) *
No. 37 – Kara Wilson –Washington Spirit (MD) ^*#
No. 38 – Alex Arlitt –FC Kansas City (S-TX) ^*
No. 39 – Ashleigh Ellenwood – Chicago Red Stars (IN) ^*
No. 40 – Lindsey Luke –Seattle Reign FC (CA-S) *#
^ = US Youth Soccer ODP
* = US Youth Soccer NCS
# = US Youth Soccer National League
(US Youth Soccer State Association in parentheses)