James Bridget saw the future of the women’s game— and American Soccer— on Day 2 of the USC Convention
As I sat down to file this post I saw an email from Dennie.
“Give me three to five words on the vibe at the Convention.”
This answer was pretty easy for me.
The future is here.
Today was one of the two major tentpole events at this Convention— the NWSL College Draft. The top flight domestic women’s league in this country, home to USWNT’ers and rockstar internationals from abroad, brought their entire braintrust into one massive ballroom to carve out a future. Their own, and the sport’s.
The thing is about most commentary around professional league drafts is that the focus is always on the teams. What their strategy is, what needs do they have in their rosters, what deals will they make, who will they miss out on. And I get it, but on some level it seems beside the point.
Because through most of the afternoon, through livetweeting picks and getting into reporter scrums and transcribing audio, all I could think about was Tierna Davidson.
Until this week, Tierna Davidson was one of the most promising college players in the country. She’s a no-nonsense central defender with a keen eye and astute tactical awareness. Her soccer intelligence blows people away. Not many players break into the USWNT pool while they’re still in college, and when they do, it’s because they’re something special. Davidson has 12 national team caps and one goal as a college student, because she is something special.
Davidson had one more year at Stanford. If she followed the standard script, she would’ve finished her college career and entered the Draft next year. Tierna Davidson did not follow the script.
Early this morning, Davidson posted on Twitter that she was skipping her senior year at Stanford to go pro.
Less than six hours later, Davidson had been drafted by the Chicago Red Stars.
As sportswriters we almost have to focus on the macro-narrative. Drafts are just too big to drill down into every personal story. The temptation to focus on what this means for the Red Stars is strong. (I’m a Red Stars fan, so, that would be an easy story to write.) From there, the idea is that you zoom out and write about What It All Means for the league, and the USWNT and their chances at the World Cup, and the growth of the women’s game, and so on and so on.
But right now I don’t care about all that. I care about Tierna Davidson, who is having the biggest day of her life.
If American Soccer has a future— and it does— it lies with individuals. It lies with every kid kicking a ball against their garage door. It lies with every fring national team player who thinks they still have a shot at getting called into camp. It lies with every retired player who teaches what they know to the ones coming up behind them.
It lies with every ambitious young person who decides to quit school early and turn pro.