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Portland Thorns Select Emily Sonnett With No. 1 Pick, Pick Up Top Allocation Spot

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While there was no surprise when the Portland Thorns picked Emily Sonnett with the first overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, things took a surprising turn minutes later when the Thorns traded away their third overall pick to the Boston Breakers in exchange for the top spot in the newly announced allocation order.

Update: Thorns select defender McKenzie Berryhill out of Arizona State University with the No. 21 pick.

Sonnett, 22, will be a day one starter at center back for the Thorns. After an outstanding college career with the University of Virginia, Sonnett has already been called in to the United States Women's National Team -- she was actually with the team in their January camp today -- and is highly regarded as a center back for the future.

A four year starter in college and her team captain, Sonnett played 97 games for the Cavaliers, scoring eleven goals and providing nine assists in the process as she garnered a number of accolades, including the 2014 NCAA Tournament Defensive Player of the Year.

The story of the Thorns' No. 3 pick, acquired earlier in the morning as part of the trade that brought Nadia Nadim to Portland, is a more convoluted one.

Minutes before the draft began, the league announced a new allocation order for unattached allocated players entering the league or leaving their team within the league, now called "Unattached Subsidized Individuals". The Thorns quickly jumped on this new mechanism, sending their No. 3 pick to the Boston Breakers for the top spot in the allocation order, giving them first crack at any new USI's coming into the league.

While it is far from confirmed, the immediate speculation was that the Thorns are eyeing midfielder Mallory Pugh, who could join NWSL this year. Only 17, Pugh has been making a huge impact at the U-20 level for the USWNT and is being called a future star for the first team. If she does join the league this year, Pugh will be first player to do so immediately out of high school.

Pugh is also training with the USWNT first team currently.