The 2023 NWSL Draft (#AbolishTheDraft, sorry, let’s continue) is nearly upon us. Dozens of hopefuls will wait to hear their name on Thursday, January 12 at 6pm ET in Philadelphia. NWSL prospects have until January 9th to register to be selected in the draft.
Recent history shows the importance for teams to get their drafts right. In 2022, Naomi Girma won Rookie of the Year and Defender of the Year as she helped lead expansion side San Diego Wave to the playoffs. Trinity Rodman (2021 Rookie of the Year) and Ashley Sanchez (2020 Future Legend Award) played pivotal roles in the Washington Spirit’s 2021 championship run.
The list continues. Diana Ordóñez finished her first season with the most goals scored by a rookie (11), and was in the race for the Golden Boot until a late-season shoulder injury. Sam Coffey anchored Portland Thorns’ midfield in the championship game across from Kansas City Current defender Alex Loera.
Depending on who chooses to turn pro through the draft, this could be one of the most talent-filled draft classes ever. Given that, we’re going to introduce you to some players who have the potential to become household names in short order.
School: Duke, Sophomore
Player Profile: Defender’s Worst Nightmare
If you’ve watched Cooper at any point during this college season, you’ve noticed within a few minutes that the sophomore is ready for the next level. Cooper makes scoring goals seem easy, in part because she’s aided by a number of skills that combine to improve her chances at getting the ball in the net. This year, Cooper scored 19 goals and added 11 assists in just 22 games played (21 starts).
Cooper has terrific acceleration and balance, savvy skill on the ball to manipulate defenders, and shooting boots with an unlimited supply of gunpowder. If Cooper enters the draft she should be a top-3 pick.
If you don’t trust my evaluation, trust Pride No. 10 pick Caitlin Cosme
In case you thought I was being hyperbolic about Cooper, when she was a freshman, then-senior Caitlin Cosme vocalized her amazement at the young talent. “First of all, I've never played against her so at practice I'm like shitting my pants — I’m like ‘oh my god, I've never seen someone like this,’” said Cosme. “And also, I don't think other teams have ever experienced an attacking player like this.”
School: Notre Dame, Sophomore
Player Profile: Shooter’s shoot
Unlike Cooper, Albert has yet to divulge whether she’s staying in college or considering a jump to the pros. If Albert is available, she’ll be one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire draft. She shoots approximately 400 times per game – but with good reason. Albert possesses a rare ability to strike the ball with power and placement with either foot, and with minimal backswing. She’s also gifted with quick enough feet to play shell games with panicked defenders before blasting a shot at goal.
Most professional teams (particularly good ones) will not want Albert shooting as often as she does, so she will need to learn to choose her spots and play-make to keep defenses off balance. However, a midfielder who’s a genuine threat to score anywhere within 30 is never, ever a bad thing.
Check out more notes on our favorite prospects and the current state of the league through free agency: