CHICAGO — Marisa Viggiano was moved when she heard her name called during the National Women’s Soccer League college draft.
Viggiano, a Northwestern midfielder, got a little choked up while addressing the crowd at McCormick Place, saying it was “truly an honor” to be drafted elected by the Orlando Pride with the No. 30 pick.
“This has been a dream of mine since I’ve been a little girl playing,” said Viggiano, who is poised to train alongside elite Pride scorers Marta and Alex Morgan. “It’s truly an honor to go to an amazing club amongst some of the world’s best players.
“Players that I’ve looked up to and watched since I’ve been a young girl. I’m excited to learn from them and kind of pick their brains and their knowledge and just learn and become the best player that I can be.”
Under the watch of new general manager Erik Ustruck, Viggiano was one of two players the Orlando Pride picked during the draft.
Ustruck and Pride goalkeepers coach Lloyd Yaxley were in attendance for the draft, and the Pride came away with Erin Greening from University of Colorado-Boulder with the 25th pick and Viggiano at No. 30.
Ustruck said the Pride approached Thursday’s draft looking for the best players available while trying to fill needs. Ustruck said the Pride fielded some offers to move up in the draft, but they chose to stay in the third and fourth rounds.
“To me, it didn’t really make sense,” he said. “It was more of a collective decision that it didn’t really make sense for any of us. If the offer was right, we would have potentially explored those options.”
Greening is described as a versatile player, though Colorado has her listed as a defender. She had three assists in 12 games as a senior. She wasn’t in Chicago for the draft.
“I think Erin possesses versatility,” Ustruck said. “She’s very powerful when she gets up and down the lines, so she has something that we’re looking for.”
Ustruck said Viggiano brings a possession-oriented style to the Pride. Viggiano played in 17 games as a senior for the Wildcats and scored two goals to go with five assists.
Viggiano said she’s looking forward to playing a match in Orlando City Stadium — a place she called “incredible.”
“I hope that I can be a person that’s fun to watch,” she said. “I like to be crafty with the ball, taking people on [one-on-one,] just creating chances for myself and my teammates.”
Ustruck also offered his thoughts on the NWSL draft moving forward and what the Pride might do with draft picks in the future.
“We haven’t really given anything away yet,” Ustruck said. “In NWSL, it’s interesting. It seems like the draft picks are like gold for most of the teams because that seems to be what everyone is trying to get rid of and trying to move around to build teams. For me, personally, I think there’s a lot of talent out there already within the league, so I don’t know if the draft picks necessarily make a lot of sense. But again, next year there is some talent coming out of college so we’ll have to wait and see.”