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Tierna Davidson goes #1 in 2019 NWSL college draft

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Davidson will go to the Chicago Red Stars.

Chile v United States Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After declaring for the NWSL draft at the last minute the day before the draft, Tierna Davidson has gone #1 overall, selected in the first round by the Chicago Red Stars. Davidson is currently with the US women’s national team in their January camp in Portugal.

Davidson will forego her last year of college eligibility at Stanford to turn pro, and will almost certainly be named an allocated US women’s national team player, meaning her NWSL salary will be paid by the federation.

Davidson has become an important defensive depth player for Jill Ellis, earning 12 WNT caps in 2018, all of them as a starter. Undoubtedly she would have earned more caps were it not for an ankle fracture from a nasty tackle last September. It’s not hard to imagine she has a very genuine shot at making the World Cup roster and that she’s being groomed to help form part of the team’s defensive backbone after Becky Sauerbrunn retires.

Reading from a prepared statement, Davidson tweeted out a video thanking Stanford and her teammates and stating her intention to eventually return and complete her degree.

Despite Davidson’s bona fides, she may not actually be a big difference-maker for Chicago in 2019 given those very same odds that she could make the World Cup roster. USWNT players will be getting called away early for camp, not to mention a 10-game pre-WWC friendly schedule.

Still, getting a top defender and allocated player was evidently too good an opportunity to miss. Davidson now joins a slowly-emerging trend of female players who choose to skip some or all of college to turn pro, along with Mal Pugh and Lindsey Horan. Given that Davidson stands not only to make the usual solid WNT salary but could also receive substantial performance bonuses depending on the team’s performance in the World Cup, one might surmise she took that into consideration when weighing out the pros and cons of spending one more year at Stanford.