With so many new young and talented players entering the league this year, it’s hard to know who to watch. Here are four rookies that have stood apart from the rest.
The NWSL added a wealth of new talent to the league this year, bringing in younger players than ever before to the biggest stage for women’s soccer in America. And for good reason, as the rookies continue to impress with their performances week after week. If you’re wondering who to keep an eye on for early guesses at Rookie of the Year, here are four rookies who have been impressive week after week.
NWSL Rookie Rankings:
There’s no compiling a rookie list without Alyssa Thompson on it. The 18-year-old was the number one draft pick, going to Angel City FC. She already has the most goals for Angel City this season with three total, and she managed to score on her debut for the team, lighting up a Los Angeles home crowd. With incredible pace and vision, Thompson has the talent that Angel City needs to push itself into the playoffs. If Thompson continues to outrun backlines, scramble the opposition, and make the most of her chances, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say she might also find herself on a plane to New Zealand in a few short months.
The number overall four draft pick out of Florida State University is already making an impact at Gotham FC. Nighswonger has played in five matches so far, starting in two of those. Listed as a forward/midfielder for the draft, we’ve seen Nighswonger come into the Gotham lineup on the defensive line for the most part, save for the most recent Chicago match where she played in the midfield. Nighswonger got her first professional goal in that match as well, being in exactly the right place in the box at the right time. She’s shown incredible promise in Gotham’s attack as well as their defense, stopping major chances from the opposition and she appears to be improving with every match.
Even though Chicago has gotten off to a rough start this season, there’s hope for the future in Penelope Hocking. She was the first rookie to earn a brace this season in Chicago’s electric victory over the Kansas City Current. The Chicago Red Stars are going through one of the biggest rebuilds this season, pulling together almost an entirely new team. Hocking represents Chicago’s future, and their ability to adapt and change and grow despite unfortunate circumstances. Hocking is aggressive on the ball, and demonstrates excellent control when taking shots at close range, making her a dangerous threat in the attacking third.
A steal at the number 21 overall pick, the forward out of TCU is a beacon of hope for Orlando Pride fans. Bright has scored two goals so far for the Pride, the most for Orlando in a poor start to their season. She scored the game-winner last weekend against Racing Louisville and scored the equalizer a few weeks ago against Angel City before they were able to come back deep in stoppage time. Bright is a strong attacking presence with creative plays on the ball, and she’s exactly the spark Orlando needs to bounce back from the start of their season.