The development landscape in American girls soccer is quite literally shifting underneath the ECNL’s firmly planted feet.
This fall, the league enters its final campaign as the undisputed lead car of the girls developmental train. U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy officially comes online in 2017, and its effect on the landscape is utterly uncertain at this point. Will clubs split off in different directions? Will they have both ECNL and USSF arms? There’s much to be decided.
In the meantime, the ECNL is still producing top girls players. So let’s say the NWSL had a (very fictional) pre-college prospects draft today and spotlighted the top 10 picks. If I was in each of the GM rooms, this is how my draft would go, and it’s chock full of ECNL players (with one goalkeeping exception).
The draft positioning is an amalgamation of multiple criteria, stretching from in-season form to YNT performances to immediate impact to overall potential as I’ve assessed it. There are plenty of quality players at the youngest age group we rank (2019), but the older girls get the spotlight today based on their furthered development.
So let’s dive into the draft. No. 1 will probably not surprise you. But the rest might.