What a week for soccer in the capital city.
After their debut on Monday, the NC Courage made further strides towards the start of the new season by participating in NWSL draft on Thursday in Los Angeles. The Courage were originally slated to pick three new players, but ended up trading with the Portland Thorns for an additional pick.
The Courage used their first two picks on forwards Ashley Hatch from BYU (#2 overall) and Darian Jenkins from UCLA (#7). Hatch finished third in goals scored nationally last season, while Jenkins was leading the PAC-12 in scoring before she broke her left fibula in a game in October. Both women will be looking to bolster a forward line that scored the most goals last year in NWSL regular season play.
— NC Courage (@TheNCCourage) January 12, 2017
After the trade with the Thorns, the Courage selected defender Claire Wagner from Clemson with the 20th selection. Wagner is actually a CASL product, so it was especially great to welcome her home. Plus, you know, after two forwards it was nice to see a defender in the mix.
BUT the Courage could not help themselves and selected Nebraska forward Jaycie Johnson with the 27th pick. Johnson scored 11 goals last year with the Huskers and finished first team All-Big-Ten.
— Raleigh City Sports (@RCitySports) January 12, 2017
This was a great first draft for the Courage, all things considered. They have added a lot of firepower, as well as a local product who seems like a good addition for the defense. That being said, the Courage needs to make some off season moves to strengthen in the defensive department.
In other NCFC family news, the club announced today a partnership with Croatian club NK Istra 1961 – which is owned by an investors group from Arizona. As part of this partnership, midfielder Nazmi Albadawi and goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre will train with their first team during NK Istra 1961’s preseason – including a tournament with MLS clubs later in February. The duo will return to NCFC before the 2017 NASL season begins, possibly along with two to three players from the Croatian club.
The partnership presents a great opportunity for Albadawi and Sylvestre to train in a different environment and with a different level of player than they are used to. I can not say personally that I know much about NK Istra 1961 – I did not know they existed until today to be honest – but I’m sure they have a couple of players that can add some quality to the team. And guess who has a new favorite Croatian league team? This guy.
You can find JP on Twitter at @jp_rcs.
Cover Photo Courtesy of NC Courage