Morgan Brian brings attacking flair to Houston Dash as NWSL's No. 1 pick
PHILADELPHIA -- The second professional draft in two days in the United States started exactly as the first. The Houston Dash selected Morgan Brian first overall in the 2015 National Women’s Soccer League College Draft on Friday, and like MLS No. 1 selection Cyle Larin the previous day, Brian was not in attendance due to national team duty.
The obvious No. 1 choice, Brian also pre-recorded a video message thanking her new team for selecting her, just as Larin did.
“It’s an honor to be picked No. 1,” Brian said via media conference call from the United States camp in California. “When you grow up as a little girl, you always dream of playing professionally in general, but [playing] in the United States is something that I think every single player in college soccer wants to do.”
Brian won the last two MAC Hermann Trophy awards as college soccer’s best player, joining Mia Hamm, Cindy Parlow and Christine Sinclair as the only back-to-back winners of the women’s award. She scored 26 goals and added 28 assists for Virginia over her last two seasons, leading the Cavaliers to the last four of the NCAA tournament both years.
“Couldn’t be happier with that choice. She’s going to have a huge impact on our team this year,” Dash head coach Randy Waldrum said from the draft floor. “I probably, in all honesty, could have used a back or maybe even a forward more, but she’s such a special talent, you can’t pass on her.”
Brian, 21, has four goals in 22 caps for the U.S. The biggest debate surrounding her national team future is where she should play. She was Virginia’s primary playmaker, but U.S. coach Jill Ellis has used her deeper in midfield for her distribution ability.
The player said she doesn’t mind playing a different role for the national team, but she is most comfortable as the playmaking No. 10 rather than a No. 6 holding-midfield role.
“I’ve played attacking mid my entire life, so [it’s] what I’m used to and I think that I have qualities as the [No.] 10 because I’ve played there my entire life,” Brian said. “Just with the national team, I think that playing the 6 here has brought out some of my abilities to do that as well.”
Waldrum said he plans to use her higher up the field.
“She’ll play in an attacking-midfield role at some point,” he said. “Typically, my system’s in a 4-3-3, but we may have to tweak that a little bit this year based on all the attacking players that we’ve picked up … but she’ll be in some kind of an attacking role for us."
The comparison between Hamm and Brian is an easy one. As a 19-year-old at University of North Carolina, Hamm played for the U.S. as it won the first Women's World Cup in 1991. Brian will be 22 at Canada 2015, and Waldrum said she is nowhere near her full potential yet.
“I think for Morgan, she’s on the very front edge of what she’s going to be not only for the Dash, but for this country,” he said. “She’s one of the rising superstars, and as this senior women’s team starts to get older, and the Carli Lloyds go out, she will be one of the next rising stars — I’m sure of it. She’s special.”
Brian wasn’t the only U.S. pool player taken in the draft Friday. With the fourth overall pick, the Western New York Flash selected Samantha Mewis, who has three caps to her name and whose sister, Kristie, also plays for the Boston Breakers and the U.S.