The 2021 NWSL Draft took place Wednesday, and there was Trojan representation, with two players taken out of USC.
Forward Tara McKeown selected No. 8 overall by the Washington Spirit.
Washington traded up to select McKeown, sending $100,000 in allocation money and a 2022 2nd round pick to Sky Blue FC to pick up the 8th pick.
McKeown is a well-regarded pro prospect after a good college career with USC. The Newbury Park native capped off her tenure with the Trojans with an All-American season in 2019, a Top Drawer Soccer Best XI selection and was Pac-12 Forward of the Year the same season.
All told, she scored 25 goals and 20 assists in 62 games across three seasons for the Trojans, and is considered a player with the mentality to make the step up into the pro game. She’s also been a U.S. youth international and if she develops as a professional, could push to make the U.S. Women’s National Team down the line.
Expect the Spirit, who have been undergoing a rebuilding project with plenty of intriguing young talent, to give McKeown playing time right away. She’s a player who has plenty of upside and looks like she can show what she can do right away.
Meanwhile, the 2nd player to be selected out of USC was goalkeeper Kaylie Collins, picked by the Orlando Pride with the No. 34 overall pick, in the 4th round.
In three seasons with the Trojans, Collins made 53 appearances, allowing 41 goals. In her career, her save percentage across a season never dipped below 75 percent. Collins was the 2018 Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year and a 2nd team All-American selection.
While she was a deep selection, Collins was called the most “pro-ready” goalkeeper in the 2021 draft and only two goalkeepers in total were selected. The Pride currently have three goalkeepers on their roster, but there’s a question if one of the veterans, Erin McLeod, will return for 2021, and if she or one of the others doesn’t, that could open the door for Collins. A professional contract is not assured, and barring injury Collins would likely need to wait her turn to play with Ashlyn Harris the starter, but given her reputation there’s a good chance Collins will get a shot to play pro somewhere.