The Houston Dash selected midfielder Morgan Brian with the first overall selection in today’s NWSL College Draft at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The Dash also selected defender Carleigh Williams in the fourth round of the draft and acquired forward Jessica McDonald in a trade with Portland Thorns FC.
“Overall I’m very excited about todays draft,” Houston Dash head coach Randy Waldrum said. “We came into the draft needing to address certain areas, and I think we accomplished that. So we got better today for sure, and that was the plan.”
“Randy did a great job today of significantly improving and addressing some of our major needs,” Dash managing director Brian Ching said. “We now have arguably one of the best midfields in the league and have added some depth to our back line. We have also added an exciting attacking player whom we will name once she has been notified.”
Brian, a 21-year-old midfielder, has earned 19 caps and scored three goals with the United States Women’s National Team while still playing college soccer. Brian is currently with the USWNT in training camp at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, California.
“I can’t say enough about Morgan Brian,” Waldrum continued. “I had the opportunity to work with Morgan with our U.S. U–23 WNT team, and she is a very special talent. She is clearly one of the rising stars, not only in the U.S., but the world. She will have a great future with the Dash and of course with the USWNT! Her flair and creativity will certainly help us produce more goals, but I’m so impressed with her tactical awareness and movement off the ball for such a young player. She gets it. We wish her all the best at the 2015 World Cup, and Dash fans are going to love having her on our team!”
The St. Simons Island, Georgia native completed a decorated college career at University of Virginia last month, finishing as a four-time first team All-ACC selection, three-time All-America honoree, and as of last week, two-time MAC Hermann Trophy winner as the nation’s top female college soccer player, becoming the fifth player in history to do so. Brian led the Cavaliers to an ACC tournament championship in 2012, an ACC regular season championship and NCAA College Cup appearance in 2013, and a spot in the national championship game in 2014. Brian finished her collegiate career as Virginia’s all-time assist leader (43) and fourth on the all-time goals chart (41).
Brian joined the U.S. youth national teams as a teenager, and was called up for the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup as a U-15 player. Four years later, Brian started all six matches as the U.S. won the 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup. She made her senior team debut a year later at the end of her sophomore year in college as a 20-year-old, and has since become a fixture on the USWNT roster, appearing 16 times (11 starts) in 2014. Brian was recently named the 2014 U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year.
The Dash acquired McDonald from Portland Thorns FC in exchange for Houston’s second round selection in the 2015 (No. 13 overall) and 2016 drafts.
McDonald won Thorns FC’s Golden Boot and finished third in the NWSL in 2014 with 11 goals. The Glendale, Ariz. native appeared in all 24 games and was named to the NWSL Second XI last season. McDonald, 26, played two seasons at the University of North Carolina and won the NCAA national championship as a junior transfer in 2008.
McDonald spent the 2013 season with the Chicago Red Stars and Seattle Reign. The forward spend 2012-13 with the Melbourne Victory of the Australian W-League. McDonald was the No. 15 overall selection in the 2010 WPS Draft by the Chicago Red Stars. McDonald made appearances with the U.S. Under-17, U-20 and U-23 women’s national teams.
McDonald is the younger sister of former MLS defender Brandon McDonald, who played with the LA Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes, D.C. United and Real Salt Lake from 2006-13.
In the fourth round, Houston selected defender Carleigh Williams from University of Central Florida with the No. 31 overall selection. A Beverly Hills, Florida native, Williams capped her four-year career with many accolades in 2014, including: American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year, NSCAA All-Region first-team and All-ACC tournament team honors as UCF reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Williams appeared in 89 games (86 starts) in four seasons.
“I went into this draft also needing to shore up the back line, and I think we did so with Carleigh Williams,” Waldrum added. “She was the Defensive Player of the Year in her conference, and has been a standout for Central Florida throughout her career. I loved the fact that she was so composed with the ball, and her ability to read the game. She rarely was caught out of position, and she is comfortable playing the ball out of the back. We certainly need to add to our back line, and I think Carleigh will have a great opportunity to play. I actually tried to move up in the draft several different times today to get her, and I just feel very fortunate that she was still available to us on our 31st pick. Playing in the heat in Florida will certainly have her prepared for the heat in Houston!”
TRANSACTION: Houston Dash drafted MID Morgan Brian and DEF Carleigh Williams in 2015 NWSL College Draft. Dash also acquire FWD Jessica McDonald via via trade with Portland Thorns FC for second round pick in 2015 and 2016 college drafts.
Hometown: St. Simons Island, Georgia
College: University of Virginia
How Acquired: Selected in the first round (No. 1 overall) of the 2015 NWSL College Draft
Hometown: Beverly Hills, Florida
College: University of Central Florida
How Acquired: Selected in the fourth round (No. 31 overall) of the 2015 NWSL College Draft
Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona
College: University of North Carolina
Previous club: Portland Thorns FC
How Acquired: via trade with Portland Thorns FC on Jan. 16, 2015