Five NorCal-Grown Players Selected in Pro Drafts
While the COVID-19 pandemic forced the annual MLS and NWSL drafts to a virtual format for the first time ever, the event was still a special one for those looking to make the jump to the professional soccer level following standout college careers.
Overall, five players with NorCal ties were picked: four in the 40-player NWSL draft and one in the 78-player MLS SuperDraft.
Below is a look at each player, the slot they were selected in, which team took them, and where they played their youth soccer.
No. 26: Joelle Anderson, Houston Dash (De Anza Force)
A dynamic player in the attacking third, San Jose native Joelle Anderson proved to be one of the top scoring threats in the nation these past three years as she bagged 21 goals, while dishing out 13 assists, for WCC powers Pepperdine. The De Anza Force alum will look to fight for playing time at NWSL Challenge Cup winners Houston Dash, who also finished second in the Fall League standings.
No. 31: Emily Smith, Racing Louisville (De Anza Force)
A member of a strong college backline for her entire three-year playing career, defender Emily Smith was a starter upon arriving at Cal in 2017 and served as a co-captain for both her sophomore and junior years. The US youth international and De Anza Force alum played in a total of 57 games for the Golden Bears and will look to earn a spot in the starting XI for NWSL expansion side Racing Louisville.
No. 33: Delanie Sheehan, Sky Blue FC (West Coast Soccer)
Though a defender by trade, Delanie Sheehan proved to be one of college soccer’s most dynamic attacking players over the past three years, scoring 11 goals while helping UCLA to reach at least the quarterfinals of the College Cup in each of her seasons in Los Angeles. The West Coast Soccer alum and US Youth International heads to New York where she’ll join a Sky Blue FC side coming off of a semifinal appearance in the NWSL Challenge Cup.
No. 34: Kaylie Collins, Orlando Pride (Mustang SC)
Mustang SC alum Kaylie Collins redshirted her first year on campus at USC but quickly became the starter in between the pipes for a school that regularly contends for the national title. Collins won the Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year award in just her second season as a regular before leading USC to the NCAA quarterfinals in her third. In Orlando, she’ll have two of the best mentors in all of the NWSL to learn from as US international Ashyln Harris and Canadian netminder Erin McLeod both play for the Pride.
No. 18: Nabi Kibunguchy, Minnesota United (Sacramento Republic FC)
A starter since arriving on campus at UC Davis as a freshman, Sacramento Republic FC academy product Nabi Kibunguchy showed his athleticism and versatility in helping the Aggies return to the College Cup for the first time since 2008 during his junior season. The defender/midfielder will look to make an impact at Minnesota United, who were just one game away from reaching MLS Cup in 2020.