JJ Duke takes a look at what the Seattle Reign FC might (and should) do in the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft. With three picks in the draft, Seattle will need to add depth and look to find replacements to a midfield that lost Keelin Winters and Kim Little.
6, 26, 37
Christine Nairn (acquired from Washington Spirit)
Madalyn Schiffel (signing; last club Avaldsnes in Norway)
Kim Little (transferred to Arsenal)
Manon Melis (retired)
Michelle Cruz (waived)
Havana Solaun (traded to Washington Spirit)
Summer Green (traded to Chicago Red Stars)
Andi Tostanoski (waived)
Possible Draft Day Activity Level
There is a reason why the website called HasLauraHarveyMadeATradeToday.com is active. It’s for days like Draft Day. I expect the Reign to use their sixth overall pick and then to either package one or both of their remaining picks, plus a future pick to trade up or to get a player. With only 15 players listed on the Reign roster so far, Head Coach Laura Harvey has some work to do to fill out the rest of the team.
What the Reign Need
Midfielders and attack-minded players will be a big necessity here, both in terms of potential starters and filling in depth. Losing Kim Little is about the toughest piece of the puzzle to replace. She is a world-class player and a difference-maker on the field and you can only hope to fill those shoes. Obviously bringing Christine Nairn back into the fold is a plus and unlike her rookie year back in 2013 in which she was asked to carry the offensive load for a good portion of the season, she will fit right into Harvey’s scheme with little issue after three more years of seasoning under her belt in Washington.
Seattle will possibly make a trade or bring in a defender for depth but are set with starters though Rachel Corsie should miss a portion of the season due to the Euros. Corsie is coming off of a season-ending injury as well so she might slower to return to the fold, so filling that role might call for a more experienced hand than what the draft will yield.
Also, if there is a good goalkeeper available late, I could see Harvey going that route with her pick. Haley Kopmeyer is the only active ’keeper in the squad right now. While the team gained Madalyn Schiffel in the offseason, I still feel there’s room for competition here.
The system that Laura Harvey plays which puts emphasis on building possession from deep-lying positions that showcases creative midfielders to keep the flow going forward so the Reign’s sixth-round pick screams out Rose Lavelle. She will be a hot commodity coming into the draft because of her technical ability, creative mindset, and her sense to take over any type of situation. If she falls to Seattle’s pick number, she is a must. If not, Chelsea Drennan from South Carolina will definitely be available at that pick and can do the job as well. Also, keep an eye on Alexis Shaffer from Virginia, who’s coming off of an All-America nod in her senior season. The Cavaliers have always played a free-flowing possession style under Steve Swanson and his players have translated over into the NWSL well and Shaffer could fit right into Harvey’s system from the get-go.
In terms of potential goalkeepers hanging around in the Reign’s second pick of the day at No. 26 overall, Diana Poulin of St. John’s has shattered almost every goalkeeping record during her four years in the program and is a great organizer of defenses. She’s also a good distributor who can facilitate potential attacks from the back.