Utah Royals FC was awarded the first overall pick in the 2024 National Women’s Soccer League draft on Wednesday.

The 2024 season will mark the debut of the new iteration of the Royals as well as Bay FC in San Francisco. To determine which team would get the No. 1 pick, the league used a random generator.

The two teams will alternate picking first in the draft’s four rounds. The Royals will pick first in the first and third rounds, and Bay FC will pick first in the second and fourth rounds.

“Receiving the first overall pick in the NWSL entry draft is a massive first step for us as we look to build our roster for the 2024 season,” Royals coach Amy Rodriguez said in a statement.

“There is a clear and proven history with first overall picks in this league and we are excited to be in the driver’s seat with this upcoming year’s draft.”  

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In addition to picking first in the entry draft, Utah will pick second in the NWSL expansion draft. Bay FC and the Royals will be able to pick a player from each of the league’s 12 teams but are only allowed to pick one U.S. national team allocated player.

Utah will also have priority in the discovery order ranking to sign discovery-eligible players, which are players who were registered for the entry draft but went undrafted, and in the waiver wire when two or more teams try to acquire the rights of a released player.

In 2019, the Royals owned the No. 1 pick in the draft in their inaugural season, but the team traded the pick as well as pick No. 7 to the Chicago Red Stars for the rights of Christen Press, according to the NWSL.

The dates for the entry and expansion drafts have not yet been announced.

Who will the Royals draft?

With the collegiate soccer season not having started yet, it’s too early to tell which player Utah could target, but owning the No. 1 pick will allow Utah to select either the best college player or even the best high school senior.

The NWSL draft used to be reserved for college players, but that changed when the league expanded its eligibility rules ahead of the 2021 draft.

The rule change allows for young players, like 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson, to be drafted. In January, Thompson was picked first overall by Angel City FC and became the youngest player and first high schooler to be drafted first overall.

If the rules for the 2024 remain the same as this year’s draft, the Royals can pick any player that is at least 18 years old on or before Jan. 1, 2024, is not under a professional contract, and has renounced or lost their collegiate eligibility, according to the NWSL.

The player must also be a permanent resident or U.S. citizen or a foreign national that was enrolled at an American university during the 2023-24 academic year.

Who were the last five No. 1 picks?

2023: Alyssa Thompson, Angel City FC.
2022: Naomi Girma, San Diego Wave FC.
2021: Emily Fox, Racing Louisville FC.
2020: Sophia Smith, Portland Thorns FC.
2019: Tierna Davidson, Chicago Red Stars.