Ahead of the Jan. 15 National Women's Soccer League College Draft, the NWSL has released the initial list of 145 players who have declared for the draft. Players have until Jan. 14 to declare, but they must declare in order to play in the league. Missing from the list is Florida State Soccer player Megan Campbell, an Irish international. Campbell has made 11 appearances for the Irish since 2011 and has played a vital role in the back line for Florida State during their national championship campaign in 2014. Sources say that she is looking at a move back to her home in Europe.
While Campbell may not have declared, several other players from the state of Florida have. Emma Blackwell, Brittany Brown, and Ally Kasun have declared from Florida Gulf Coast University. Claire Falknor, Lauren Smith, and Christen Wetsphal have declared from the University of Florida. Michaela Hahn, Carson Pickett, and Cheyna Williams have declared for the draft from Florida State. Sierra Lelil, a player from Nova Southeastern University, has declared for the draft, and finally, the trio of Alexis Rossi, Diana Saenz, and Jacqueline Simpson have declared for the draft from the University of South Florida.
In addition to college players in Florida, there are some Sunshine State natives who have also declared. Goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin, a St. Petersburg native who went to the University of North Carolina will be included in the draft, along with Spencer Valdespino, a forward out of Spring Hill, from Nicholls State University.
Who in this list of 145 players are considered standouts, players who could make a starting roster and look to be in the first round of the draft? The most notable players consist of Raquel Rodriguez, a midfielder from Penn State, and recipient of the MAC Herman Trophy; Cari Roccaro, a defender from Notre Dame and captain of the U.S. Under-20 World Cup team in 2012; Rachel Daly, a forward at St. John's University and an England national team player; Janine Beckie, a forward from Texas Tech; Katie Bowen, a midfielder from the University of North Carolina; Emily Sonnet, a midfielder for the University of Virginia and recent call-up to the U.S. Women's National Team; and Makenzy Daniak, a forward out of the University of Virginia.
Before trading away their first-round pick, the Orlando Pride could have had selected of any of these players, all of which would have fit nicely into a starting line-up. However, Orlando's will likely pick at the end of the first round -- 10th overall -- if Portland Thorns complete the signing of Lindsay Horan. As it currently stands, the Pride's first pick of the draft is in the second round.
With a midfield that can use some help, Orlando could look to focus its attention there, with players like Erica Skroski from Rutgers University, or Samantha Witteman from the University of California. English international Georgia Kearney-Perry could also be great addition to the Pride's roster.
Right now, the Pride needs to focus on depth and utility players, not name recognition. With stars like Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris, the Pride already has the star quality it needs, and should focus on players that can add depth and versatility to a team that will be losing several players from its starting lineup this summer during the Olympics.
With only 40 picks in the College Draft, many players will look to sign contracts during open tryouts. Players from Florida looking to stay local may have a shot at playing in the NWSL at the open tryout later this month, because the team will be looking to fill out its reserves with amateur players who can provide depth behind the first team.