US women’s national team defender and UCLA product Hailie Mace has been drafted #2 overall in the 2019 NWSL college draft. Sky Blue FC picked Mace in the first round. Mace had three caps for the senior WNT in 2018, subbing in her first two and starting against Panama in October.
The question now remains whether Mace will actually report to Sky Blue when preseason begins. Sky Blue players have been leaving the team in a steady trickle during the offseason, with the latest departure in Katie Johnson, who will join the Chicago Red Stars in 2019.
As a young player who needs to continue her development, particularly as someone hunting around the edges of the national team, Mace may look at Sky Blue’s recent record on and off the field and make a judgment call for the sake of her career. It’s disappointing to say that any NWSL team might not be an acceptable destination for a young player - in fact, maybe be actively discouraging young players from considering the league for fear they may end up in an untenable club situation - but it’s certainly not beyond the realm of possibility at this point.
Also something to take into consideration is that US Soccer has not inconsiderable influence on where its players go, and if Mace is part of any future WNT plans, perhaps she may be able to finagle a trade.
Or perhaps Mace will be part of a serious rebuilding season for Sky Blue FC since she’s an outside shot for the World Cup roster and could be available to them all year, and will help the club improve over 2018’s depressing 1-17-6 record and last place finish. It’s so early in 2019; perhaps we can hope for the best, and let pessimism wait at least until winter is over.