2013 NWSL predictions — the big preview

The Equalizer Staff April 13, 2013 13
Cindy Parlow Cone, Portland Thorns FC coach

Coach Cindy Parlow Cone is expected to lead Portland Thorns FC to the top of the NWSL. (Copyright Patricia Giobetti | http://www.printroom.com/pro/psgiobetti)

Gameday is finally here. It’s not as if this were the longest wait. The year without professional women’s soccer — which, hopefully 2012 stands as the last such — didn’t quite feel that way with a spectacular London Olympics to distract us.

But the National Women’s Soccer League restores a top flight for women in North America, and it’s time to play ball. Before doing so, though, we all need to make irrational decisions on the best and worst teams in the league, based on preseason and what we know of the players and coaches.

In an hour-long preview show on This Week in Women’s Soccer on NASN.tv, we did that with a whole host of pundits. Joined by fellow Equalizer staffers Richard Farley (also of NBC), Dan Lauletta and Meg Linehan, as well as AllWhiteKit.com’s Chris Henderson and SportsMyriad.com’s Beau Dure, we break down what will happen this season.

Here is the link to the podcast, with comprehensive team-by-team analysis and predictions (please excuse the echo…it goes away after a bit).

In addition to their picks, we’ve added in the predictions of our Washington Spirit beat writer Jennifer Gordon and FC Kansas City beat writer and photographer Thad Bell and taken the everyone’s selections and assigned eight points for a first place vote and one point for a last place to represent the overall picture of how teams will finish.

As I always like to say, this is the time of year when we all get to make wild assumptions, be wrong, and motivate a lot of players and coaches who will be angry with our picks. That said, here’s how it all shakes out:

THE GROUP AVERAGE — HOW THE TABLE WILL LOOK AT THE END OF AUGUST 17

TEAM  |  PLACE  |  TOTAL POINTS

PORTLAND  |  1  |  59
FC KANSAS CITY  |  2  |  57
WNY FLASH  |  3  |  47
SKY BLUE FC  |  4  |  35
CHICAGO RED STARS  |  5  |  31
BOSTON BREAKERS  |  6  |  27
SEATTLE REIGN FC  |  7  |  19
WASHINGTON SPIRIT  |  8  |  13

Jeff Kassouf – POR, FCKC, WNY, SBFC, BOS, CHI, SEA, WASH. On Portland finishing 1st: “We’ve seen this script before, and while there may be potential depth issues in the back, there’s no defense in this league or in the world that can handle Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair together. This has 2010 FC Gold Pride and 2011 WNY Flash written all over it, but perhaps a little less dominant.”

Richard Farley – POR, FCKC, BOS, SEA, CHI, SBFC, WNY, WASH. On WNY Flash finishing 7th: “I’m not sure Abby Wambach, her physical state, will be able to hold up through an entire seas0n of NWSL commitments, plus US Soccer commitments. We saw it in the past in WPS…that plus what I would call a short allocation for Western New York.”

Dan Lauletta – FCKC, POR, WNY, SBFC, CHI, BOS, SEA, WASH1.  On FC Kansas City finishing 1st: “The most balanced roster in the league is also the group least affected by injuries, absences, and other travails that go with putting a team together from scratch.  They got lucky on draft day when the two teams drafting ahead of them bypassed Kristie Mewis who has since been capped by the national team and has been tabbed as a budding star. X-Factor:  Casey Loyd”

Meg Linehan – POR, FCKC, CHI, WNY, SBFC, BOS, SEA, WASH. On Chicago finishing 3rd: “I just have a feeling about them. They were very gritty last season in the WPSL Elite; they have a lot of the core of the same players.”

Chris Henderson – WNY, FCKC, POR, CHI, SBFC, BOS, SEA, WASH. On WNY winning it all: “They’re going to do it again. They’re going to win their fourth straight title. They have one of the best striking combos…I think they’ve got the best coach in Aaran lines and mark it down right here, I think they have the best goalkeeper in the league in Adrianna Franch. She is the truth.”

Beau Dure – POR, FCKC, WNY, WASH, SBFC, BOS, SEA, CHI. On the Red Stars finishing last: “Their players are almost as old as I am.” (Beau didn’t share his age with us)

Thad Bell – FCKC, POR, WNY, SBFC, CHI, SEA, BOS, WASH. On Kansas City’s roster: “A well balanced team with loads of talent spread over the entire team, not concentrated in a couple stars. Should help them last through call ups, injuries and the heat of the summer. Might have my homer glasses on but they have looked strong in preseason. Expect Renae Cuellar to surprise a couple teams and then draw a lot of fouls the rest of the year.”

Jennifer Gordon – WNY, FCKC, POR, SBFC, CHI, BOS, WASH, SEA. On why Seattle will finish last: “I picked Seattle to finish last due to the fact they have to play Kansas City and Portland more than the Spirit and Boston do.”

  • newsouth

    Jeff Kassouf – POR, FCKC, WNY, SBFC, BOS, CHI, SEA, WASH. On Portland finishing 1st: “We’ve seen this script before, and while there may be potential depth issues in the back, there’s no defense in this league or in the world that can handle Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair together. This has 2010 FC Gold Pride and 2011 WNY Flash written all over it, but perhaps a little less dominant.” ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

    Jeff, do you actually follow women’s soccer? Riley’s Philly squad with Estelle Johnson handling through balls all but beat WNY with Marta, Sinclair and Morgan on the same field, if A-Rod could have finished one regulation shot, just ONE. WNY was done. BTW, Gold Pride and the Flash were more stacked than this Portland, which is just two forwards and becky edwards, because of no salary cap. Also Marta/Sinclar > Sinclair/Morgan. Buehler and LeBlanc can be had BIG TIME. they are built and allocated to win at home and keep those 7000+ season ticket holders happy. the people over at USSoccer aren’t stupid by a long shot, but they can be had by Lines’ coaching and stability at WNY, and if Casey lives up to her ability, KC can exchange with them at venue at the end of the season. Watch out for Casey, because I think she wants that last chance at the national team since Sermanni arrived, and her over-all talent level is > Morgan, Press or Sydney. They don’t come close to her dribbling, ball handling and shooting range,esp her ability to bend balls.

    • Greg

      Even if Loyd’s talent is greater than Morgan’s or Press’s (which is debatable), when was the last time we saw her deliver on it? She was underwhelming in WPS, hasn’t been close to the national team in a couple years. I would love for her to prove me wrong, but until then, I’m thinking she’s not going to show much again.

      Also, I do think it’s fair to say that both Morgan and Sinclair have evolved as players since 2011. Morgan is much more dangerous over 90 minutes and much better at creating her own chances. Sinclair is coming off a WC and Olympics where she showed how talented she is.

      I’m not saying I buy Portland being tops, but I do think you might be underestimating them.

      Also, there’s no reason to insult Jeff either- he’s built a fantastic blog, and he’s consistently shown a deep understanding for women’s soccer.

      • Steglitz49

        Hear hear!

  • newsouth

    BTW, don’t get over excited if they beat KC today. KC is young and will need to gel, will be more of a force in the second half of the season. i wouldn’t be surprise after 11 games, if they are 6-5 or 5-5-1. i know people will proclaim portland champs if they win today, and they should with the experienced strikers on opening day.

    • heremerawr

      I absolutely agree with you that Portland are the more likely team to win today, simply through sheer star power. Once KC settles down and all the players get used to one another, I think we could very well be looking at the winners of the league. Although Casey Lloyd’s consistency could very well play an important part in how things shape out in this opening match.

  • OldRogue

    “But alas, the National Women’s Soccer League restores a top flight for women in North America, and it’s time to play ball.”

    Why “alas?” It seems like you don’t know what it means.

    • http://twitter.com/JeffKassouf Jeff Kassouf

      I do — it was misguided while rushing, which happens. Thanks.

    • http://twitter.com/BostonRedSoccer Boston Red

      Obviously not reading enough of Steglitz49′s comments.

  • vert2013

    One of FCKC’s achilles heels this year will be how many NT players they have, especially if USSF ends up scheduling those 2 more games in June. They’re definitely a solid team but it depends on how they overcome that obstacle.

    • heremerawr

      I’d say that applies more to Portland than to FCKC. KC has a ridiculous amount of depth to cover themselves. Portland’s starting eleven is good, maybe even great, but the rest… meh.

  • wosofan

    Paul Pierce is The Truth!! Find another name, please…

  • You can do better

    There are a bunch of grammatical errors FYI -
    “They’re players are almost as old…” – Should be their, not they’re which is a contraction for “they are”

    “The most balanced roster in the league is also the group least effected by injuries” – should be affected.

    • http://twitter.com/JeffKassouf Jeff Kassouf

      Well aware of the difference between they’re and their, thanks.