Portland Thorns FC coach Mark Parsons was struggling during the first round of the 2021 NWSL Draft. Throughout the first four picks, the Thorns’ staff were working on a trade so they could secure the No. 4 pick in the draft. The plan was to use the pick on the team’s top target — Yazmeen Ryan.
Portland couldn’t secure the fourth pick and all the sudden a new wave of nerves washed over Parsons. Eventually everything worked out, although it might not have been how they drew it up the night before. The Thorns traded the seventh and 32nd picks of the draft and a 2021 international slot for the sixth pick and they drafted Ryan.
“That means the world to me for a coach, especially in this next level, to recognize my talent and see so much in me and I can’t thank him enough, and the whole organization, for believing in me and wanting me on their team,” said Ryan is the 2021 NWSL Draft virtual mixed zone. “I think that I can really come in and make a difference with what I bring.”
Ryan is a senior attacking midfielder coming out of Texas Christian University, and she is, without a doubt, a game-changer. During her time with the Horned Frogs, Ryan appeared in 68 matches (64 starts) and recorded 19 goals and 17 assists. Ten of those goals were game-winners and she assisted another. In fact, Ryan scored the goal that propelled TCU to their first-ever NCAA Tournament win against BYU.
“Just talking with Mark [Parsons] about their plans for the 2021 season and how they want to play — they want to be an attacking team and I think that’s really exciting,” said Ryan. “I’m an attacking-minded player. I’m ready to get after it and that’s what they are looking to do so I think it’s a perfect fit and I’m really excited.”
Ryan is an attacking-midfielder who gets extremely involved in creating and scoring goals. In all three of her seasons, she was in the top five among TCU players in shots taken. Her shots on goal percentage was .410, and considering the types of shots an attacking midfield player takes, this is a promising shot on goal ratio that can still be improved upon.
“[She is] fantastic with the ball at her feet, great at receiving in tight areas,” said Parsons. “The distribution is superb, but something that makes her unique for someone who can play in the midfield or even out wide is on the dribble she is special and she strikes the ball with both feet like someone I haven’t seen in a while.”
Parsons made it clear that Ryan was his number one target. He believes that Ryan can come into this Thorns team and make a difference now and that she fits the mold of the team’s style of play to a T. As it turns out, Ryan saw the Thorns as her number one destination.
“I think what I’m most excited about is how they were excited to pick me,” said Ryan. “Just from talking with them, the conversations were great. It gives me confidence in going in there with their confidence in me so I love the mutual excitement to be on that team.
“I love the location. I watched Portland this past season and previous seasons as well and they were definitely a team that I was looking at,” then Ryan paused, smiled, and laughed. “They were my number one team to be honest. It’s just really, really surreal that this dream has come true.”