The Full 90

UCLA star goes first in women’s soccer draft

Once-embattled Women’s Professional Soccer went ahead with its annual draft Friday at the Kansas City Convention Center, and the Atlanta Beat made Sydney Leroux, a three-time All-American and rising star for the U.S. women’s national team, the No. 1 overall pick.

The 4-year-old league, which has only five teams and had to fight to be provisionally sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation (which requires eight teams for First Division designation), was sued in August after booting Team magicJack and its controversial owner Dan Borislow.

But Women’s Professional Soccer determinedly pressed on.

“We have a group of five really dedicated owners who are committed to development of this league,” said Jennifer O’Sullivan, the league’s CEO. Leroux, one of 23 picks spread across four rounds, draws comparisons to Sporting Kansas City’s own Teal Bunbury.

“She’s an outstanding player with great speed and great movement off the ball — just a natural goal-scorer,” said Fitz Johnson, Atlanta’s owner and general manager.

Leroux, who scored 16 goals with three assists in 21 games for UCLA last season, is in camp with the national team and couldn’t attend the draft.

Sky Blue FC, a New Jersey-based franchise, picked Notre Dame forward Melissa Henderson with the second pick and chose Stanford defender Camille Levin at No. 4. In between, the Boston Breakers continued an early run on forwards, adding San Diego’s Stephanie Ochs.

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