Alabama Soccer turns pro, multiple drafted in NWSL

Martha Glen Sease, Contributing Writer

After a record breaking 2022 season, Alabama Soccer continues to make program history as three of its players were drafted to the National Women’s Soccer League on Jan. 12, 2023.  

Defender Reyna Reyes went as the overall No. 5 pick to Portland Thorns Football Club, forward Riley Tanner went as the overall No. 30 pick to Washington Spirit and forward Riley Mattingly Parker went as the overall No. 31 pick to Racing Louisville FC.  

Reyes’ selection as the fifth overall pick marked not only the second ever player to be drafted to the NWSL from Alabama — Celia Jiménez was drafted at No. 36 to Seattle in 2019 — but marked the highest selection of a Crimson Tide player in the NWSL Draft since its first iteration in 2013.  

“It means everything to have been selected in the draft, especially that high, because it shows that everything I’ve put in and sacrificed is paying off,” Reyes said.  

Reyes, a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist, anchored the Crimson Tide’s defense this season with 12 shutout victories, a 76-20 goals/goals against record, and eight goals and one assist on the season. 

Reyes joins a stacked squad with multiple veteran international players on the Thorns squad. Portland finished second in the overall standings with 39 points and a 10-9-3 record over the 2022 season and won the 2022 NWSL playoff championship in a 2-0 win over the Kansas City Current.  

“I’m not done yet,” Reyes said. “I’m so grateful for it and so excited to become a Portland Thorn and can’t wait to be tested to new limits and learn and grow as a soccer player.” 

After transferring to Alabama from South Carolina leading up to the 2021 campaign, Tanner recorded eight goals and 11 assists over 45 games. She also earned call-ups to the senior Panama Women’s National Team over the last two years.  

Tanner joins a Washington squad that won the 2021 NWSL playoff championship but faced struggles through the 2022 season and ended 11th overall with a 3-10-9 record. The Spirit netted 53 goals total over the 2022 season and add Tanner as another weapon up top after her five-goal, eight-assist 2022 season with the Crimson Tide.  

Mattingly Parker, also a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist, returned after a year spent sidelined with an ACL injury to have a mammoth season. Over the 2022 campaign, the Crimson Tide team captain broke multiple Alabama Soccer records, including the record for single-season goals with 17, points with 41 and led both the Crimson Tide and the nation in game-winning goals with 7.  

Mattingly Parker joins a Louisville squad that finished 9th overall with a 5-8-9 record in 2022. Racing Louisville FC is entering only its third season after being added to the NWSL as an expansion team. Racing Louisville recorded a total of 23 goals in its 2022 campaign, and will add Mattingly Parker as another weapon up top. 

“To get to live out the moment that I waited my entire life for was extremely special and one I will never forget,” Mattingly Parker said. “I am so grateful to my Alabama family and all the speed, strength and soccer coaches that helped me get to where I am today! I am so excited to begin this next chapter in the NWSL!”

The 2023 NWSL regular season will feature 22 matches per team and begin on March 25.  

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]