NWSL Draft Recap
By JJ Duke
Running at a pretty furious pace for those following on Twitter, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) concluded it’s first-ever College Draft Friday morning in Indianapolis. Thirty-two graduating seniors found out where they would be heading to continue their soccer careers and there were a few surprises along the way. Officially, all but one team has 11 players on their roster after the national team allocation and today’s draft. We will take a look at how each team fared and what the teams will be looking for in the coming free agency period. But first here is how the draft panned out:
1. Chicago Red Stars- Zakiya Bywaters (UCLA)
2. Washington Spirit- Tiffany McCarty (Florida State)
3. FC Kansas City- Kristie Mewis (Boston College)
4. Sky Blue FC- Lindsi Lisonbee-Cutshall (BYU)
5. Boston Breakers- Casey Short (Florida State)
6. Western New York Flash- AD Franch (Oklahoma State)
7. Seattle Reign FC- Christine Nairn (Penn State)
8. Portland Thorns FC- Kathryn Williamson (Florida)
9. Chicago Red Stars- Rachel Quon (Stanford)
10. Washington Spirit- Caroline Miller (Virginia)
11. FC Kansas City- Erica Tymrak (Florida)
12. Sky Blue FC- Kendall Johnson (Portland)
13. Boston Breakers- Mariah Nogueira (Stanford)
14. Western New York Flash- Amy Barczuk (Colorado)
15. Seattle Reign FC- Mallory Schaeffer (William and Mary)
16. Portland Thorns FC- Nicolette Radovic (Central Florida)
17. Chicago Red Stars- Taylor Vancil (Florida State)
18. Washington Spirit- Holly King (Florida)
19. FC Kansas City- Whitney Berry (Kansas)
20. Sky Blue FC- Ashley Baker (Georgia)
21. Boston Breakers- Jo Dragotta (Florida)
22. Western New York Flash- Vicki DiMartino (Boston College)
23. Seattle Reign FC- Kristen Meier (Wake Forest)
24. Portland Thorns FC- Amber Brooks (North Carolina)
25. Chicago Red Stars- Jen Hoy (Princeton)
26. Washington Spirit- Colleen Williams (Dayton)
27. FC Kansas City- Nia Williams (Missouri State)
28. Sky Blue FC- Rebecca Kaplan (Maryland)
29. Boston Breakers- Maddy Evans (Penn State)
30. Western New York Flash- Jaclyn Logue (Wake Forest)
31. Seattle Reign FC- Haley Kopmeyer (Michigan)
32. Portland Thorns FC- Roxanne Barker (Pepperdine)
Boston Breakers: (picks: Casey Short, Mariah Nogueira, Jo Dragotta, Maddy Evans). Boston went out and built depth in the midfield. “I’m really excited about how things went with Boston,” said Breakers Head Coach Lisa Cole. “And I think we got some players that fill a role for us and are going to be able to make a difference in our team.” Casey Short made the move from midfield to outside back before the start of her senior season down at Florida State and excelled in the back, which will help in the long run for the Breakers too. Nogueira is a solid holding midfielder which will balance out the current midfield status, after losing Leslie Osborne, that the Breakers have with Heather O’Reilly and Rhian Wilkinson who will attack more. Dragotta and Evans will add depth in the center of the field as well. Boston did not take any full time defenders in the draft, so expect them to go out and find some veteran centerbacks, as well as a possible goalkeeper.
Chicago Red Stars: (picks: Zakiya Bywaters, Rachel Quon, Taylor Vancil, Jen Hoy). Chicago General Manager Alyse LaHue tweeted “We aim to surprise” right before they revealed the number one pick overall. And Zakiya Bywaters was the first name that came up and not the projected names many people expected. “I’m very surprised. I was really excited when [Head Coach] Rory [Dames] gave me the call to let me know. I’m still kind of in shock about the whole experience. But I’m really looking forward to playing in a professional environment,” said Bywaters of being selected first. “I’m very excited and honored.” But Bywaters is a very good forward, who hit the net for 15 goals this season for UCLA. Chicago also picked up a solid sleeper pick with Jen Hoy in the fourth round. Hoy is a forward who scored 18 goals for Princeton this season and led her Tigers to an upset win in the NCAA tournament over West Virginia. Rachel Quon was a surprise to drop to the second round, but Chicago will be happy to add her to a strong defense that includes Amy LePeilbet and Carmelina Moscato. Taylor Vancil will back-up Erin McLeod in net, but the one area that Chicago will need to recruit in the attack. With three defensive midfielders currently in the mix, attacking midfielders will be in high demand. But otherwise a good draft for Chicago.
FC Kansas City: (picks: Kristie Mewis, Erica Tymrak, Whitney Berry, Nia Williams). When FCKC saw that Kristie Mewis was still available for the No. 3 pick, they were pretty eager to snap up the Boston College graduate. She will mesh nicely with Lauren Cheney in the center of the field. Erica Tymrak will be a nice combination in the forward position with Renae Cuellar. And then Kansas City went for a more local route in their last two picks, Whitney Berry and Nia Williams played their college ball at Kansas and Missouri State respectively, which is not too far from where The Blues will be stationed. Going forward, they will need some more depth up front to go along with Cuellar and Tymrak, and some outside backs as well. But Kansas City should be happy with their picks as well.
Portland Thorns FC: (picks: Kathryn Williamson, Nicolette Radovic, Amber Brooks, Roxanne Barker). Probably the mentality that Portland had going into this draft was to get depth, which they did get at every position. Out of the four, Kathryn Williamson will have a possibility of starting in the back four along with Rachel Buehler, but Portland will need to go out and get a couple of defenders in free agency as well to go along with the two. Nicolette Radovic had a solid senior season at Central Florida scoring 12 goals, so she will provide depth up front behind Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair. Roxanne Barker will be the backup behind Karina LeBlanc but the big surprise came with their pick in the third round. They selected Amber Brooks, who currently is signed with Bayern Munich in Germany. With the roster they have right now, Portland could afford to take the flyer on Brooks, hoping to lure her to play alongside recent signing Allie Long, Morgan, Sinclair and former UNC Tarheel, Tobin Heath. Also add in that Head Coach Cindy Parlow Cone was the assistant at UNC, so that factor might help persuading her as well.
Seattle Reign FC: (Christine Nairn, Mallory Schaeffer, Kristen Meier, Haley Kopmeyer). If Head Coach Laura Harvey was looking for a potential replacement in the midfield while Megan Rapinoe plays in France, today was their lucky day. Projected top pick Christine Nairn was still available on the draft board when the Reign were on the clock at the seventh overall pick, and they were more than happy to take the MAC Hermann trophy finalist. “I’m very excited to go to Seattle. I’m a huge MLS fan, so I’ve watched the Seattle Sounders and what they’ve done with their program. I cannot be more excited and more thrilled to be going to such a soccer-fanatic city,” said Nairn. And a second bonus pick came in the second round when William and Mary’s star midfielder Mallory Schaeffer was available. Now Seattle has five strong midfielders on their roster, plus depth in drafting Kristen Meier in the third round, and they haven’t looked into free agents yet. Haley Kopmeyer will back-up Hope Solo in net, a great advantage to the former Michigan netminder as she will have a chance to train with the best goalkeeper in the world on a daily basis. Seattle will need to look towards defenders though in free agency as well as a second striker to go along with Amy Rodriguez
Sky Blue FC: (picks: Lindsi Lisonbee-Cutshall, Kendall Johnson, Ashley Baker, Rebecca Kaplan). Sky Blue went very defensive in this draft, picking up two backs and a goalkeeper. Lindsi Lisonbee-Cutshall had a fantastic season in BYU’s defense, allowing only 13 goals this season and earned 1st Team All-America accolades. Kendall Johnson will also fit in nicely in the defense as well, playing for a good Portland Pilots team. Head Coach Jim Gabarra did get some depth at the forward position in Rebecca Kaplan. The former Maryland Terrapin forward quietly put together a nice senior season, scoring 12 goals and adding six assists. If she can work well with Monica Ocampo up front, Sky Blue may have found a nice gem in this draft. Ashley Baker will back-up Jill Loyden in net, giving some depth at the goalkeeping position. Sky Blue will need midfielders though, and a third striker when the team heads into free agency.
Washington Spirit: (picks: Tiffany McCarty, Caroline Miller, Holly King, Colleen Williams). Washington is continuing their theme of bringing in local players when they drafted their first two picks. Florida State’s Tiffany McCarty hails from Laurel, Maryland and Virginia’s Caroline Miller is from Rockville, Maryland. Put those two together, you have a nice forward tandem. Their 2012 season stats combined for 37 goals and 12 assists, so for a team that wasn’t allocated any forwards, they picked up two solid ones. Plus they drafted Colleen Williams from Dayton who had 17 goals and 14 assists as well. Holly King had a nice season in defense for Florida and came in pretty high on the defender’s list coming into the draft as well. Overall, the Spirit have a nice team put together thus far. Expect them to go get another playmaker in the midfield as well as some depth in defense. Plus they will still need a goalkeeper to fill in until Ashlyn Harris gets back from Germany.
Western New York Flash: (picks: AD Franch, Amy Barczuk, Vicki DiMartino, Jaclyn Logue). Coming into the draft, the Flash needed a goalkeeper to build a team around and defense. With their first pick, they got the goalkeeper that they wanted in AD Franch. “We knew that Western New York was definitely an option. It happened to be true,” said Franch afterwards. After that, Western New York picked a player per position. Vicki DiMartino had a nice senior year up front for Boston College and will add depth to the Flash’s strikeforce with Abby Wambach, Veronica Perez and Jodi-Ann Robinson. Amy Barczuk was selected in the second round, a little off our radar but could fit in nicely in the midfield. And Jaclyn Logue was picked in the fourth round in the defense. Overall, the Flash got what they wanted but will need to worry about getting defenders and a couple other midfielders before the first game of the season.
Overall, no team had a bad draft, but some teams found more players than other teams that could make an impact come game one of the season. You have to look at Washington and Seattle for teams who will be walking out of Indianapolis very happy with their picks. They filled positions that needed to be filled and got a sleeper pick or two that could help. Chicago and Kansas City got the player or two that they needed to get while Sky Blue and Boston beefed up their defense and midfield respectively. While the Flash and Portland looked more for depth and a player to build on for the future.
JJ Duke graduated from Rider University in New Jersey with a degree in Digital Media Studies. While his playing days may have ended back in high school, he still prides himself of being a decent shot-stopper and an all-around fanatic of the beautiful game (fervent supporter of Manchester United and the founder of a Rider supporters group, the 206 Ultras). He is the Student General Manager at 107.7 The Bronc at Rider and has contributed to various local newspaper and Web sites in the Trenton, NJ area of high school and collegiate sports including The Rider News and Fish4Scores.com. He became involved with Our Game Magazine early in 2012 when upon following OGM on Twitter, he was contacted within minutes (which caught him by surprise) by Tiffany about working with the team. After spending the summer covering the USL W-League and the WPSL-Elite league as an intern, he is looking forward to continue working with the OGM team, especially on games in the US.