‘Players To Be Named Later’ Upstage Incredible NWSL Draft

After Andi Sullivan went No. 1 to Washington, some huge names changed teams, including Carli Lloyd, Sam Kerr and Christen Press.

The 2018 NWSL College Draft was held Thursday morning in Philadelphia. Andi Sullivan went No. 1 to the Washington Spirit, as expected. But “player to be named later” was the real star of the NWSL draft. By the end of the day, Carli Lloyd, Sam Kerr and Christen Press had changed teams in blockbuster trades.

The 2018 edition of the NWSL draft quickly became a mess of confusing deals with eight players to be named later, six draft picks and an international roster spot involved in two trades involving three teams, with no players actually named when the trades were announced during the 10-pick first round.

NWSL Draft

First Round of the 2018 NWSL Draft. Photo: @NWSL | Twitter

The Spirit were always going to draft Sullivan, the 2017 Hermann Trophy winner, after leading Stanford to the national title. Sullivan, a Virginia native, will provide a boost to a Washington midfield trying to rebuild after last year’s last-place finish and after shipping off Crystal Dunn to North Carolina

“Having the No. 1 pick and having the ability to pick Andi is huge because not only a local player, but a high quality person that could be a player that we build our franchise around for years to come,” Washington coach and GM Jim Gabarra said.

But after the predictable first pick, the draft descended into madness. A handful of trades saw unnamed players passed around like Halloween candy. 

So the Chicago Red Stars took two players to be named later and sent three players to be named later to Sky Blue FC. The Dash got an international roster spot and a player to be named later while the Sky Blue shipped off two players to be named later. And a handful of picks changed hands. And we were as lost as you are.

As the draft continued into the later rounds, it became clear who was going where, and those PTBNLs were bigger than anyone in the draft. What resulted was a three-team trade that saw three of the league’s biggest stars play a game of musical chairs. 

Carli Lloyd, a two-time FIFA Player of the Year, moved from Houston, where she never really seemed interested in playing, to New Jersey to play for the Sky Blue, which shares a home with her alma mater Rutgers. Christen Press moves from the Chicago Red Stars to the Dash. Australian goal machine Sam Kerr will leave Sky Blue for Chicago. 

The rest of the draft kind of took a back seat to this news as the NWSL draft managed to be 10 times more interesting than the ultra-boring NFL, MLB and NBA drafts. Maybe those leagues need more international roster spots and TAM/GAM.

Major League Soccer will hold its 2018 SuperDraft (thus named because it apparently needs to be more super than NWSL's) on Friday, also in Philadelphia. We highly doubt it will be as interesting.