The NWSL Draft Preview Part II: Team Draft Capsules
In part II of our NWSL College Draft Preview, we will be breaking down each team in the NWSL and what their needs will be come draft day. It has been a busy off season thus far with free agent signings, multiple trades and with the introduction of the Houston Dash, an expansion draft. But now with teams gearing up towards Friday morning’s College Draft, teams will hope to fill some of those needs from America’s rising talent.
BOSTON BREAKERS- Picks: 8th, 13th, 21st, 23rd, 32nd
Current Allocated Players: USA: Heather O’Reilly, Kristie Mewis. Mexico: Dinora Garza. Canada: Chelsea Stewart, Kaylyn Kyle
Off season Additions: Michelle Betos (from Seattle), Courtney Jones (from FC Kansas City), Kaylyn Kyle (from Seattle), Kristie Mewis (from Seattle), Melissa Ortiz (Free Agent signing), Meghan Klingenberg (Allocation), Dinora Garza (Allocation), Chelsea Stewart (Allocation)
Off season losses: Jo Dragotta (waivers), Ashley Phillips (now Goalkeeping Coach), Carmelina Moscato (trade with Seattle), Mariah Noguiera (trade to Seattle), Casey Short (trade to Chicago), Kyah Simon (Torn ACL), Sydney Leroux (trade to Seattle), Rhian Wilkinson (Not Allocated), Cecilia Santiago (Allocated to FCKC), Anisa Guajardo (Not Allocated), Meghan Klingenberg (expansion draft)
What they are set with: Goalkeeping, Defense and Midfielders. Tom Durkin’s side returns the whole back line from 2013 as well as Alyssa Naeher in net. Boston also got boosts from a solid back up goalkeeper with Michelle Betos and potentially depth in the defense with the return of Bianca D’Agostino, who missed the 2013 season with injuries. They almost had the perfect depth with defense but after losing Meghan Klingenberg via expansion draft, they could look to draft one more defender. Also with adding Kaylyn Kyle to the mix, she can sit in front of the defense and pull the strings from the back.
What they need: Strikers. With the trade of Sydney Leroux to Seattle and losing Kyah Simon for the season with a torn ACL, the Breakers do not have a strong selection in this category. Boston signed Colombian international Melissa Ortiz and added Courtney Jones, but they still need someone who has a nose for goal.
Potential draftees: A good part of me really thinks that Maya Hayes could find her way to Boston. She has similar qualities to her game that Sydney Leroux has in terms of speed and having that nose for the goal. But I don’t see Hayes dropping to eighth overall. But expect at least a couple of strikers with those qualities to be taken, so figure perhaps Frances Silva or Jazmine Reeves (especially if she is on the board with that 13th pick). After that, and especially because the Breakers have five picks in this draft, they should look to add some depth in the defense with their later round picks.
CHICAGO RED STARS-Picks 3rd, 4th, 22nd
Current Allocated Players: USA: Shannon Boxx, Amy LePeilbet, Christen Press. Mexico: NONE. Canada: Rachel Quon, Adriana Leon, Melissa Tancredi, Karina LeBlanc
Off season Additions: Casey Short (from Boston), Christen Press (Allocation), Melissa Tancredi (from Houston), Karina LeBlanc (from Portland)
Off season Losses: Sonja Fuss (waivers), Inka Grings (waivers), Maribel Dominguez (Not Allocated), Dinora Garza (Allocated to Boston), Erin McLeod (trade to Houston), Ella Masar (expansion draft)
What they are set with: Strikers and Goalkeeping. Chicago’s striking corps will be strong for 2014 despite losing Inka Grings and Maribel Dominguez. Adding Christen Press to the squad, albeit pending her arrival after finishing her duties in Sweden, Chicago has finally gotten the striker they want. Melissa Tancredi is no slouch either as the second striker, giving Chicago one of the best forward tandems in the league. After those two in the depth chart, Jen Hoy turned out to be a revelation towards the end of last season and if Zakiya Bywaters returns healthy this season, that adds a lot of speed. With goalkeeping, the Red Stars traded a 2015 draft pick for Karina LeBlanc, who was a solid ‘keeper for the Thorns in 2013. So combine her and Taylor Vancil as the backup, the Red Stars are in a good place at that position as well.
What they need: Defending and midfield depth. The positives in this category is Amy LePeilbet could be ready for the first week of the season and with Casey Short fully fit after missing 2013 with an ACL injury, they could have that depth. But for Chicago, could is a key word. Losing Sonja Fuss was a major loss as she dictated the pace of the defense. Taryn Hemmings and Jackie Santacaterina are also question marks for the start of the season as they suffered major injuries towards the end of the season. So combine that with knowing Chicago probably won’t be seeing Shannon Boxx on the field any time soon due to her pregnancy, they should look to pick up a player or two for the defense & midfield.
Potential draftees: When Chicago had the first pick in the 2013 draft, the Red Stars organization selected a player that many people did not pencil in as the number one pick. But, the Red Stars did draft well as a whole in 2013, as all of their draft picks contributed throughout the season. But with the third and fourth overall picks, they will get either Julie Johnston or Kealia Ohai after Washington and Houston pick. Vanessa DiBernardo is another player that could give Chicago depth in the midfield. And the Red Stars could play that local card with her, as DiBernardo is from Naperville, IL, a suburb of Chicago. Then again, Rory Dames could go add to his Florida State core within the Red Stars and select Kassey Kallman, who could potentially be in the starting XI on Opening Weekend regardless of whatever team picks her. There will be lots of decisions to be made with that third pick, which could set the tempo for the rest of the draft.
FC KANSAS CITY- Picks: 5th, 12th, 16th, 19th, 20th, 35th
Current Allocated Players: USA: Lauren Holiday, Becky Sauerbrunn, Nicole Barnhart, Amy Rodriguez. Mexico: Cecilia Santiago.
Off season Additions: Amy Rodriguez (Rights from Seattle), Nikki Kryzsik (earlier season trade from Seattle), Liz Bogus (from Seattle), Cecilia Santiago (Allocation)
Off season Losses: Tiffany Cameron (waivers), Courtney Jones (trade to Boston), Kristie Mewis (trade to Seattle), Lauren Sesselmann (expansion draft), Bianca Henninger (trade to Houston), Sinead Farrelly (trade to Portland)
What they are set with: Vlatko Andonovski’s side is basically set for the majority of his starting XI for 2014. They picked up Amy Rodriguez in the off season, someone who will fit in well with the team’s system and while Kristie Mewis was traded away, picking up Nikki Kryzsik will see the FCKC backline shift slightly, but nothing major.
What they need: Midfielders, a Center Back and a second striker. After talking with Andonovski a few weeks ago, he stressed that his team was just burnt out come August, playing with basically 11-12 healthy field players for the last few weeks of the season. So with six total picks in the draft, expect FCKC to look to load up in the midfield and defense. It hurt the team a lot when Desiree Scott and Lauren Sesselmann moved on to other clubs, so filling those roles will be key. Plus adding another option up top won’t hurt.
Potential draftees: FC Kansas City turned Mewis and Tymrak into starters immediately, proving that Andonovski and crew put high value into the college draft. With the fifth overall pick (and they won’t get a gift like last year of having a USWNT member fall to their selection) and from there after, expect at least couple strikers & midfielders to be selected. Though if Kassey Kallman hasn’t been picked yet when their first round pick comes about, that would not be a bad option either. Also later on in the draft, there are a couple locals that could find themselves traveling fairly close to train with the Blues. Jordan Jackson and Morgan Marlborough are from the area and FCKC was another one of those teams that picked a few players with ties to the area in 2013, so expect the same this year.
HOUSTON DASH- Picks 2nd, 10th, 28th
Current Allocated Players: USA: Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg Mexico: Teresa Noyola, Ari Romero. Canada: Erin McLeod, Lauren Sesselmann
Players Acquired via Expansion Draft & Trades: Brittany Bock (from Sky Blue), Tiffany McCarty (from Washington), Lauren Sesselmann (from FCKC), Mana Shim (from Portland), Ella Masar (from Chicago), Meghan Klingenberg (from Boston), Ari Romero (from Seattle), Becky Edwards (from Portland), Kika Toulouse (from Washington), Bianca Henninger (trade from FC Kansas City), Stephanie Ochs (trade from Washington)
What they are set with: To think in less than a month into their club’s existence, the Dash have put together a 14-player roster and it’s not a bad roster at that. Obviously their US allocated players will not be available to play with Houston until Tyreso is eliminated from UEFA Women’s Champions League play, but the Dash have covered the bases so far. They have a strong midfield duo of Becky Edwards and Mana Shim, a veteran forward in Ella Masar, promising young forwards Tiffany McCarty and Stephanie Ochs and most importantly, a veteran goalkeeper in Erin McLeod. So for less than a month, it’s a decent starting point.
What they need: Depth at midfield & defense. With a few strikers to the team and both a starting & backup goalkeeper, Houston will probably stay away from these positions for the most part and look for some young defenders and midfielders.
Potential draftees: A lot of word is that at number two Houston will take Kealia Ohai, who has ties to the Houston area. Regardless of who Houston take at the second pick, the Dash will have the pick of the litter. Then with their other two picks, they should definitely consider going for best available per position. Mandy Laddish is a definite possibility to follow head coach Randy Waldrum from Notre Dame to Houston and would add a nice presence to the midfield. Plus, you can’t count out trying to pick up a Texas A&M alum or two, so best odds go to former Aggie defender Rachel Lenz.
PORTLAND THORNS FC- Picks: 11th, 25th, 34th
Current Allocated Players: USA: Rachel Buehler, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath. Mexico: Jackie Acevedo. Canada: Christine Sinclair.
Off season Additions: Jessica McDonald (from Seattle), Rebecca Moros (rights from Seattle, currently with INAC Kobe Leonessa), Nikki Marshall (from Seattle), Amber Brooks (from Bayern Munich), Jackie Acevedo (Allocation), Nadine Angerer (from Brisbane Roar), Sinead Farrelly (from FC Kansas City)
Off season Losses: Nikki Marshall (waivers), Marian Dougherty (retirement), Danielle Foxhoven (trade to Seattle), Adelaide Gay (waived), Libby Guess (waived), Mana Shim (expansion draft), Becky Edwards (expansion draft), Karina LeBlanc (trade to Chicago)
What they are set with: Portland is another team that really has a solid core group and doesn’t have that many holes to fill. The exception might be in the middle of the park as in the expansion draft the Thorns lost Mana Shim & Becky Edwards. But with the recent signing of Amber Brooks, that will cover half of what they need in that position. Adding Nadine Angerer to the mix is a definite plus to the Thorns roster despite trading Karina LeBlanc to Chicago.
What they need: Central midfielders, a backup goalkeeper and depth in defense. As mentioned, trying to fill the spots that Shim & Edwards left is a tough ask. But Paul Riley will be up for the challenge. Getting another defender or two in reserve wouldn’t be a bad option either. Riley has said though that he will be looking to add at least a couple more signings before the season starts so it is interesting to see how he will go about this draft with that in mind.
Potential draftees: With no picks in the first round, it’s a tough call to predict whom the Thorns will go with. It might be a best available scenario for their first pick and then just go and fill needs. I am curious to see if Amanda Frisbie is available at the eleventh spot, will the Thorns try to pick up the fan favorite from the University of Portland? The Thorns did bring in a couple players last year who were former Pilots so it will be interesting to see if Frisbie is available will Portland draft her. Outside of that, perhaps picking up Jenna Richmond would be a good fit as depth in the middle of the park.
SEATTLE REIGN FC- Picks: 7th, 17th, 30th
Current Allocated Players: USA: Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Sydney Leroux, Stephanie Cox. Canada: Carmelina Moscato.
Off season Additions: Carmelina Moscato (from Boston), Mariah Noguiera (from Boston), Alina Garciamendez (rights from Washington, currently playing with FFC Frankfurt), Sydney Leroux (from Boston), Kim Little (from Arsenal), Danielle Foxhoven (from Portland), Beverly Goebel (from INAC Kobe Leonessa)
Off season Losses: Kristina Larsen (waivers), Kristen Meier (waivers), Kaylyn Kyle (trade to Boston), Renae Cuellar (trade to Washington), Emily Van Egmond (waivers), Christine Nairn (trade to Washington), Jessica McDonald (to Portland), Liz Bogus (trade to Kansas City), Emily Zurrer (to Jitex (Sweden)), Jenny Ruiz (Not Allocated), Ari Romero (expansion draft)
What they are set with: Midfield and Starting Goalkeeper. Laura Harvey hit the wheeling and dealing button and has upped her teams ability all over the field. With Hope Solo, you are always set in the goalkeeping department, though with trading Michelle Betos they do need a back up goalkeeper. The midfield that they will have to start the season is much stronger than it was last season with the addition of Kim Little to the core group. And with that core of defenders, there are a fair few of them that could move up and play in the midfield. Then when Megan Rapinoe gets back into the team once her season with Lyon is over, they are in real business.
What they need: Shore up the defense. The Reign’s backline was suspect to giving up the soft goal now and then so they should be looking to add a quality defender to their roster. While having Steph Cox in for a full season helps, they could use the depth. A big need is to find another center back to potentially pair with Carmelina Moscato, something which the team had for a couple days with Ari Romero, but then the Reign lost her in the expansion draft.
Potential draftees: So with Seattle only holding three draft picks, and factoring in that Laura Harvey could always look to package more draft picks to stabilize her team with veteran players, it’s really a toss up here. They could look to draft a goalkeeper to back-up Hope Solo if last years practice squad ‘keeper Haley Kopmeyer isn’t signed. So that points to Aubrey Bledsoe as being the number one goalkeeper coming through the college ranks. As for defenders that could be available if Seattle chooses to pick one early, Emily Menges is a little bit of a dark horse in the draft but had a very strong season with Georgetown. Also, a later defender pick could see Emily Jacobson add to center back depth. But again, with Seattle, who knows what could happen come draft day.
SKY BLUE FC- Picks: 6th, 15th, 24th, 33rd
Current Allocated Players: USA: Christie Rampone, Jill Loyden, Kelley O’Hara. Mexico: Monica Ocampo. Canada: Sophie Schmidt, Jonelle Filigno
Off season Additions: Jonelle Filigno (Allocation)
Off season Losses: Manya Makoski (retirement), Melanie Booth (retirement), Nayeli Rangel (Not Allocated), Brittany Bock (expansion draft), Danesha Adams (expansion draft)
What they are set with: Goalkeeping and Midfielders. With the emergence of Brittany Cameron’s play in 2013 in net, having the duo of her and Jill Loyden should give Jim Gabarra a little reprieve in that portion of the field. With the late season addition of Ashley Nick gave the midfield a little bit of depth as well. That midfield already includes the likes of Sophie Schmidt and Katy Freels, so they are set at that position for the most part as well.
What they need: Depth Everywhere. Saying that is a little nicer than saying looking to draft healthy bodies, but it is true. It seemed like for the last month and a half of the season, Gabarra marched out the same XI every week because that’s all he had to work with. Most importantly he will need to get a goal scorer to partner Monica Ocampo returning for 2014. Sky Blue did get Jonelle Filigno in the allocation, who will be a nice asset in the forward ranks, but with her lack of production with Rutgers last year Sky Blue could use at least another front runner. Also looking for another wide midfielder or two could be useful in the late rounds.
Potential draftees: This off season has been extremely quiet for Sky Blue and with the expansion draft and other player moves, Jim Gabarra needs to have a really good draft. He did a great job getting the most of his top two draft picks in 2013 as Kendall Johnson was a fixture at outside back and when Lindsi Lisonbee-Cutshall became available after finishing her classes at BYU, she was a useful defender. So expect very strategic picks from Sky Blue on draft day. Maya Hayes is from New Jersey so that could always be a smart local move to make, and with her speed, she can compliment a very fast front line. Later in the draft Gabarra could add to the Sky Blue-BYU connection on the back line by drafting Cloee Colohan or perhaps go with the Long Island native Kim DeCesare for her speed & versatility.
WASHINGTON SPIRIT- Picks: 1st, 26th, 29th, 31st
Current Allocated Players: USA: Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris, Yael Averbuch. Mexico: Renae Cuellar. Canada: Diana Matheson, Robyn Gayle
Off season Additions: Renae Cuellar (from Seattle), Jodie Taylor (from Sydney FC), Christine Nairn (from Seattle), Yael Averbuch (Allocation), Danesha Adams (from Houston)
Off season Losses: Holly King (waivers), Lindsay Taylor (waivers), Lupita Worbis (Not Allocated), Tiffany McCarty (expansion draft), Stephanie Ochs (trade to Houston)
What they are set with: Forwards and Midfielders. Coming into 2014, Washington has a healthy squad, a coach that the team seems to mesh well with the team and a couple of potential scorers with the pickups of Renae Cuellar and Jodie Taylor. Add that to the core that was installed last year with 2013 College Draft picks Caroline Miller and Colleen Williams, the Sprit has good depth up front. The Spirit continued their trend of having players with local ties to the club with adding Christine Nairn in the off season. With Nairn in the lineup along with Diana Matheson & Lori Lindsey in the center of the field, she adds a bit more quality and play-making abilities in that portion of the field. Now with all the pieces in place, the Spirit just need to produce goals in 2014, something they struggled with in 2013.
What they need: Depth in defense. It was a circus in the back last year for the Spirit with players rotating in and out of the lineup on a weekly basis with injury. Washington has a lot of late round picks and there is a good chance there could be a good defender lurking in the third and fourth round that Mark Parsons could draft.
Potential Draftees: Crystal Dunn is almost a guaranteed number one pick. She has a good amount of experience already with the full national team and while Dunn is still rehabbing an injury she picked up during the NCAA postseason, she should be good to go come April. After that, it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see Parsons go after defenders with picks in the 3rd & 4th round. So perhaps a Holly Hein or a Molly Menchel (who played with Washington’s W-League team last summer) could be selected with those late picks.
WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH- Picks: 9th, 14th, 18th, 27th, 36th
Current Allocated Players: USA: Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach. Mexico: Veronica Perez. Canada: Selenia Iacchelli.
Off season Additions: Selenia Iacchelli (Allocation)
Off season Losses: Ingrid Wells (waivers), Laura Heyboer (waivers), Pamela Tajonar (Not Allocated), Jodi-Ann Robinson (Not Allocated), Bryana McCarthy (Not Allocated)
What they are set with: Similar to FC Kansas City and Portland, this team already has a solid starting XI and a couple substitutes after that. Really this draft will be for Aaron Lines to add depth to the team for when National Team players get called in.
What they need: A Backup Goalkeeper and depth defensively. AD Franch is the only returning goalkeeper for the Flash, so they will need to select a goalkeeper to be in reserve if Franch gets injured or gets called into the USWNT. Outside of that, picking up a couple of defenders in the second round will be useful with Alex Sahlen out for the season after announcing she is expecting her first child.
Potential draftees: With the Flash needing a back-up goalkeeper, I wouldn’t be too surprised seeing them take Aubrey Bledsoe or Kelsey Wys. They will need a solid number two as AD Franch has already gotten a couple of looks at national team camps, so there is a possibility that this drafted ‘keeper might see some minutes in 2014. After that, the Flash can do whatever they want with their other four picks, but it will most likely be defenders and maybe a player Western New York can use out wide.
Thanks for reading the second part of our two-part preview of the NWSL College Draft. Make sure to stay tuned on Friday morning as Our Game Magazine will be on-site in Philadelphia for the draft. You can follow us on Twitter for live updates by either following @OurGameMagazine or @JJDuke21. Let us know what you think about the draft. Are there going to be any surprises in the early rounds? Will a blockbuster trade happen throughout the four rounds? Which team will find that diamond in the rough? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.
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.