The Kansas City Current selected three players Friday night in the 2024 NWSL Draft. Defender Ellie Wheeler from Penn State was selected in the second round and goalkeepers Halle Mackiewicz from Clemson and Hope Hisey from Arizona were chosen in the third and fourth rounds.
“I thought we selected three great players with abilities to play on our team, but also with a lot of potential,” KC Current coach and sporting director Vlatko Andonovski told media after the draft. “Coming into this draft, we wanted to get an outside back and increase the competition in that position. But also, it was very important that we increase the competition in the goalkeeper position, as well.”
“We’re excited about the roster we have coming into the 2024 season,” said general manager Camille Ashton. “Tonight’s draft was a great step towards building what we feel will be a very competitive team going forward.”
Ellie Wheeler – DEF, Penn State University
Wheeler was selected in the second round, 18th overall. Wheeler is a quality defender from Penn State. She was a four year starter and was the Nittany Lions Freshman of the Year, Defensive MVP and helped her side win the 2022 Big 10 Championship. Wheeler has also been with the U.S. Youth National Teams at the U-19, U20 and U-23 levels. Andonovski has been aware of her through the U.S. system as well as having watched her in college.
Halle Mackiewicz – GK, Clemson University
Mackiewicz was the fourth pick of the third round, 32nd overall and the first goalkeeper taken. She earned 13 clean sheets in the 2023 season, setting a school record for shutouts. In her senior season, she had a 0.726 goals against average, and won the 2023 ACC Goalkeeper of the Year award after a spectacular season for Clemson.
Hope Hisey – GK, University of Arizona
Hisey became the second player in the programs history when she was selected in the fourth round. The Current were familiar with since she trained with the Current during the 2023 season and also played for the Current II development team. Hisey set the record for career saves (366) and games started (88) at the University of Arizona.
A deeper look
Andonovski and general manager Camille Ashton had looked for opportunities to move up in the draft and even had a deal on the table midweek, but the other team backed out. The trade partner probably dropped the deal as high draft picks were becoming increasingly costly in the days leading up to the draft.
Wheeler was always a target for Andonovski and he states she would have likely been the Current selection even if the team had moved up in the draft. They were happy to get her in the second round. “I’m glad we were able to save our assets and finances and still get the player we wanted,” Andonovski stated.
The Current needed at least one more right back after losing Kate Del Fava in a trade for expansion draft protection. While Wheeler is a strong defender she also has an attacking pedigree from her youth when she was a leading scorer.
Andonovski explained that Wheeler moved to fullback in college and described her as an amazing attacking mind. He called her attacking mind “amazing” and mentioned that she was a prolific scorer at the youth level before transitioning to fullback in college. “Her mindset hasn’t changed,” Andonovski said. “She’s very good in solving problems under pressure, especially on the dribble. With the style of play or the game model or principles that we want to implement, I think she’ll fit in very well.”
When asked about the keepers, Andonovski stated, “not only are they both very good keepers but they are composed but also very brave when they are on the field.”
Ashton said, “It’s always nice to have four goalkeepers in camp and competition in that position as we go into preseason. We will evaluate them and give them all an opportunity to showcase themselves.”
Officially the Current have AD Franch and Jordan Silkowitz signed and on the roster in the goalkeeper position. Silkowitz is on loan in Australia until April at least. In 2023 the Current drafted Silkowitz and Ashley Orkus and let them battle it out for the right to be the third keeper.
Miller is gone, more players are inbound
Kansas City holds control over Cassie Miller as she is a restricted free agent. The Current had the right to match any offers but that option appears to no longer be available. Information indicates the Current have traded the rights to Miller but details on where and what they received have not been revealed yet.
The Current have a number of deals in the works that could see an influx of another three to five players swelling the Kansas City roster over the next week or two.
When asked about the roster after adding the drafted players, Andonovski responded, “These are not quite the final pieces. We have things in the works that I’m pretty sure will come to fruition very soon.”