The Portland Thorns paid a big price for the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NWSL draft, but they knew what they would be getting.
The Thorns took Stanford forward and rising U.S. women's national team prospect Sophia Smith with the top pick in Thursday's draft in Baltimore, landing a prolific, young talent as the squad looks to make a run at returning to the league's summit for the first time since 2017.
Smith scored 17 goals and had nine assists as a sophomore in 2019 and finished her two years at Stanford with 24 goals and 11 assists. Her hat trick in the College Cup semifinals vs. UCLA helped Stanford reach the championship match, where the Cardinal ousted North Carolina on penalty kicks to win the NCAA title for the second time in three years.
At Stanford, Smith was second-fiddle to prolific two-time Hermann Trophy-winning Catarina Macario, whose 32 goals and 23 assists both led the NCAA in 2019. Macario didn't make herself available for the draft, though, and is expected to return to Stanford for her senior year.
The Thorns traded up for the top spot in a draft light on marquee names through a deal with the Orlando Pride last week. Portland sent U.S. women's national team defender Emily Sonnett (who was the No. 1 overall pick in 2016), the rights to Australian forward Caitlin Foord and the seventh and 14th overall picks in the 2020 draft to Orlando for the No. 1 spot.
Smith gives Stanford the No. 1 pick in the draft in three consecutive years, after the Chicago Red Stars took U.S. defender Tierna Davidson at No. 1 overall in 2019 and the Washington Spirit took U.S. midfielder Andi Sullivan with the first pick in 2018. Stanford also produced the third and seventh overall picks last year, with the Spirit's selections of Jordan DiBiasi and Tegan McGrady.
As for Smith, she has a decorated scoring record with the U.S. Under-20 women's national team, scoring 23 goals in 27 caps. In 2018, she set a U.S. youth national team record by scoring in nine consecutive U-20 games. She was recently part of new USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski's talent identification camp and the January camp leading into Olympic qualifiers. In the latter, she was the only collegiate player in the fold. She'll join a Thorns attack paced by international veterans Christine Sinclair and Tobin Heath.
The Thorns also traded for the second overall pick, going all in on the top of the 2020 class by taking Washington State forward Morgan Weaver.
Here are all of the picks in a trade-heavy 2020 NWSL Draft–which included the reported move of USWNT winger Mal Pugh to Sky Blue FC from the Washington Spirit in exchange for three 2020 picks and a first-rounder in 2021:
1. Portland Thorns - Sophia Smith, F, Stanford
2. Portland Thorns - Morgan Weaver, F, Washington State
3. Orlando Pride - Taylor Kornieck, M, Colorado
4. Washington Spirit - Ashley Sanchez, F, UCLA
5. Sky Blue FC - Evelyn Viens, F, South Florida
6. North Carolina Courage - Ally Watt, F, Texas A&M
7. Orlando Pride - Courtney Petersen, D, Virginia
8. Utah Royals - Tziarra King, M, NC State
9. Reign FC - Kelcie Hedge, M, Santa Clara
10. Orlando Pride - Konya Plummer, D, Central Florida
11. Sky Blue FC - Kaliegh Riehl, D, Penn State
12. Utah Royals - Kate Del Fava, M, Illinois State
13. Washington Spirit - Natalie Jacobs, D/M/F, Southern California
14. Orlando Pride - Phoebe McClernon, D, Virginia
15. Chicago Red Stars - Julia Bingham, D, Southern California
16. Chicago Red Stars - Camryn Biegalski, D, Wisconsin
17. Washington Spirit - Averie Collins, M, Washington State
18. Houston Dash - Bridgette Andrzejewski, F, North Carolina
19. Chicago Red Stars - Zoe Morse, D/M, Virginia
20. Sky Blue FC - Amanda McGlynn, GK, Virginia Tech
21. Orlando Pride - Cheyenne Shorts, D, Denver
22. Houston Dash - Chloe Castaneda, F, UCLA
23. Washington Spirit - Katie McClure, F, Kansas
24. Chicago Red Stars - Ella Stevens, M/F, Duke
25. Portland Thorns - Meaghan Nally, D, Georgetown
26. Orlando Pride - Abi Kim, F, California
27. North Carolina Courage - Sinclaire Miramontez, D, Nebraska
28. North Carolina Courage - Addisyn Merrick, D, Kansas
29. Sky Blue FC - Chantelle Swaby, D/M, Rutgers
30. Orlando Pride - Chelsee Washington, M, Bowling Green
31. Utah Royals - Cyera Hintzen, F, Texas
32. Washington Spirit - Kaiya McCullough, D, UCLA
33. Reign FC - Samantha Hiatt, D/M, Stanford
34. Reign FC - Meg Brandt, D/M/F, Nebraska
35. Chicago Red Stars - Aerial Chavarin, D/M/F, Yale
36. North Carolina Courage - Brianne Folds, M, Auburn