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Colorado’s Jaelin Howell selected No. 2 in NWSL Draft

Real Colorado Soccer Club, Florida State and USWNT standout keeps climbing the ladder of success

2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Fossil Ridge High School graduate and Real Colorado Youth Soccer Club product Jaelin Howell was selected No. 2 Saturday by the Racing Louisville City Football Club, in the 2022 National Women’s Soccer (NWSL) League’s College Draft.

Howell will be in great company as she will join the expansion team’s roster that includes U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) player Emily Fox, NWSL scoring phenom, Jess McDonald, and Lauren Milliet, who hails from Durango, Colorado.

“I think Louisville has a great team already, and I’m trying to bring what I know to do best, and that’s being physical and also connect the game,” Howell stated during her CBS broadcast interview. “Whatever they need me to do, I’m 100% in, and I’m excited to get started like I said.”

Two-time USWNT FIFA Women’s World Cup medalist, Aly Wagner, shared her perspective about the Howell going to Racing during the same broadcast.

“I expect this player to step into the ranks right away and grab control of the squad,” Wagner said on CBS. “The question is, she needs to be challenged. In college, the game seemed to be too easy. It’ll be fun to see how she adapts.”

Racing Louisville finished its first season with a 5-12-7 record.

The 22-year Howell just concluded another impressive year for Florida State University. She captained and assisted the Lady Seminoles to their third NCAA Division 1 (D1) championship in eight seasons.

The physical, big-game playmaker came up clutch during her NCAA semifinal playoff match against Rutgers. The senior laid in the game-winning goal, then went on to score a massive penalty shootout goal to help Florida State win the Women’s College Cup championship trophy verse a strong Brigham Young University team.

Nineteen-year Journey to the Top

Howell has come a distance since her ”horrible” start as a pee-wee footballer. ”She was seriously not good,” said her mother Laura in an interview in 2014. “She started at 3. She didn’t even care about the ball; she just followed the pack.”

However, the stars all aligned for the rough and tumble 5’ 8” box-to-box midfielder, and today she has achieved another milestone in her promising career.

As a U9 through U13, she was a member of the Fort Collins-based Arsenal Colorado Soccer Club. With the support of her mother, and former CSU and NFL footballer, and 2002 Super Bowl XXXVII champion father- John Howell, she elected to take on the long commute from greater Fort Collins to South Denver and play with the Real Colorado Soccer Club. The near-daily round trips, plus private coaching, paid off for the high potential Howell, who has a reputation for being very coachable and soaks up advice like a sponge.

Howell played for Real’s U14-18/19 teams and earned a roster spot on Real’s first Girl’s U.S. Soccer Development Academy team. In 2017, she was named 2017 United Soccer Coaches Youth National Player of the Year. She competed with Team USA at the 2016 FIFA U-17, and 2018 U-20 Women’s World Cup Tournaments, in Jordan and France. She was chosen as one of the Best XI at the 2016 CONCACAF Championships. In 2017, she was called up to the senior women’s team for friendlies with Russia.

A natural leader and two-time captain for her Real Soccer Club youth teams, she helped her teammates place as runner-ups in the 2014 U14 and 2016 U16 Elite Clubs National League [ECNL] Girl’s National Championships.

The high potential Howell was recruited to join the elite Florida State University’s Women’s Soccer program in 2018. As a freshman, she played in 26-games and stared 24 times. Fast forward to her junior and senior seasons. Howell’s all-around play and contributions were off of the charts. She is the reigning Missouri Athletic Club (MAC) Hermann Trophy winner and is currently in the mix to win the prestigious award again for her play as a senior. The accolade is the most coveted individual honor in NCAA D1 soccer.

Training USWNT

In October 2020, Howell received a call up to the USWNT. The camp took place at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. When asked by the Burgundy Wave about Howell’s skill set, USWNT skipper Vlatko Andonovski stated: “She has done well on Florida State, on a good team and overall individually, too. When I say well, she is very well educated in the position that she plays, and the way she plays fits the style that we want to play.” He added, “She is incredible abilities on the ball and in terms of defense- intercepting passes, cutting off oppositions attacks and helping her defense.”

A month later, Howell made her debut with the senior team when she came off the bench during a friendly against the Netherlands. This past January she showcased for the Lady Yanks in the annual SheBelieves Cup against Argentina.

Howell is expected to be a fixture in Louisville City F.C.’s midfield throughout their 2020 season, and also compete for playing time with the Women’s National Team next year.