Bush’s 2017 NWSL draft review by team

Chelsey Bush January 16, 2017 74
The ten players selected in the first round of the 2017 NWSL College Draft (photo by Kieran Theivam)

The ten players selected in the first round of the 2017 NWSL College Draft (photo by Kieran Theivam)

Last Thursday, NWSL staff, media, players, and fans gathered in Los Angeles for an exhaustive four hour-plus session in which they chose 40 women, from a list of 206, who will get the chance to realize their dreams and become professional soccer players. The 2017 NWSL Draft featured trades, surprises, no-brainers, and a little bit of history made. Without knowing what trades and other roster moves are to come, not to mention which players successfully make the transition from college to pro, drafts are hard to judge right away, ultimately taking some time to see which moves come to fruition. However, nothing says we can’t try. Following is a ranked list, from best to worst, of all ten NWSL teams’ draft classes, based on how well each team fulfilled their needs.

#1 – FC Kansas City

Kansas City enters 2017 with fewer holes than they did in 2016 when a slew of retirements and pregnancies caused every line on the field to take a hit. However, some of those holes were never filled, leading to an uneven fourth season for the two-time champions. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski entered the draft with a clear plan, and from the looks of it, executed it perfectly.

Duke defender Christina Gibbons is as good a defender as any in the draft and along with late pick Rashida Beal, brings both speed and versatility to the defense. At the other end of the field, FCKC added attacking power with strikers Toni Payne and Stephanie Ribeiro. Their biggest steal of the draft comes in UVA midfielder Alexis Shaffer, who inexplicably fell to the third round. Shaffer is a technically gifted player who creates chances.

Defensively, KC will be glad for the added depth, allowing Yael Averbuch to return to her rightful place in the midfield. Gibbons will likely be in competition with Katie Bowen, although both are capable of playing either midfield or left back. The addition of two forwards does raise questions, given that both Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux are expected to return, as is Shea Groom, who came into her own last season. However, after a year off, Rodriguez and Leroux may not be as effective as they once were, and Payne and Ribeiro provide options off the bench. Shaffer may end up offering the best return, as FCKC never replaced Lauren Holiday in midfield and need someone who can pull strings. FCKC does still need an eventual successor for Nicole Barnhart, but there are other ways to acquire goalkeepers.

#2 – Sky Blue FC

Many initially said Houston won the 2016 draft, but when the season was over it was clear that Sky Blue took that title, as several of their rookies were thrust into the starting lineup out of necessity and nearly took the team to the playoffs. They look to repeat this year after adding needed depth with another strong class.

Sky Blue used their first two picks on defenders Kayla Mills and Miranda Freeman, both out of 2016 champions USC, before picking up Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan in the third round, one of the best in a strong class of ‘keepers. Sheridan’s college teammate, midfielder Catrina Atanda is a local girl, while strikers Madison Tiernan and McKenzie Meehan, both of whom fell lower than anticipated, bulk up the attack.

Sheridan is a great grab for the team. She brings international experience and although occasionally prone to the odd error in decision-making, she should take the starting job from Caroline Casey and Caroline Stanley. A starting rookie goalkeeper isn’t an ideal situation for any club, but the team needed an upgrade between the posts. Sheridan has the added bonus of likely being allocated by Canada in the future. Mills is expected to plug in at fullback, allowing Kelley O’Hara to make full use of her attacking abilities, while Freeman could be used at centerback as a successor to Christie Rampone, or at defensive midfielder. Tiernan and Meehan offer depth at forward, which at the moment relies too often on an inconsistent and aging Natasha Kai. Still lacking is a strong central midfielder to allow Raquel Rodriguez to push into the attacking midfield role. Atanda is a creative attacking midfielder who can score from distance, but it’s uncertain yet as to whether she would be effective as a starter right off the bat. However, depth across the board was needed for Sky Blue, and they’ve established it.

#3 – Houston Dash

After making moves in the offseason to bulk up a leaky central defense, Houston enters the season with a strong group of starters on paper. They entered the draft with only two picks but traded a 2018 pick with Chicago for a third, looking to establish depth.

It was no surprise Jane Campbell was the first keeper off the board, but the Dash selecting her was a surprise to many,

It was no surprise Jane Campbell was the first keeper off the board, but the Dash selecting her was a surprise to many,

The Dash surprised everyone by taking Stanford goalkeeper Jane Campbell at no. 15. Campbell is pegged as a likely Hope Solo successor with big upside but struggles with consistency at times. They then snagged Canadian forward Nichelle Prince with their pick from Chicago before taking defender Erin Smith in the last round.

Given that the Dash have two strong keepers on their roster already, Campbell was an odd choice, particularly so early in the draft. However, word is that Lydia Williams may depart after this season, so this choice may make sense in the long run. The Dash have quite a lot of forwards on their roster but not all play as such, so Prince, who brings a strong work rate and international experience, adds depth, needed when Rachel Daly is gone for the Euros. Smith is probably their biggest steal as she adds defensive depth across the backline and comes from a strong group of Rutgers defenders. The Dash picks gain extra value in that Prince is confirmed to be allocated this year and Campbell is likely to be in the future.

#4 – Orlando Pride

As with any expansion team in their first year, the lack of depth hurt the Pride last season when injuries crippled them in the second half. With Alex Morgan in France for at least half the season and international returns uncertain, Orlando needs spots filled across the board. Unfortunately, they only had two late round picks with which to work.

Danica Evans from Colorado is a goalscorer who could help out in Morgan’s absence, but questions remain about her productivity at this level. The Pride then got a great steal in the last round with Nickolette Driesse, a talented attacking midfielder capable of playing deeper.

With McKenzie Meehan still on the board, one has to ask if she wouldn’t have been a better pick than Evans. However, the Pride did need depth at forward with their best striker out. Driesse is a fantastic pick who will probably immediately slot in somewhere in central midfield, depending on who else returns. The Pride’s midfield was one of their biggest problems last year. They could also use defensive depth as there is a huge drop-off in talent on the bench, but with only two picks, Tom Sermanni had to decide which holes to fill.

#5 – Chicago Red Stars

With the exception of a wide midfielder and perhaps defensive depth, the Red Stars enter 2017 with few holes as the majority of their young roster remains intact. Rory Dames actually traded away three of his draft picks for 2018 picks.

{MORE: See entire 2017 NWSL Draft results}

Michele Vasconcelos was first off the board after Chicago traded up for her, followed immediately by Morgan Proffitt. A strong attacker, Vasconcelos is listed as a striker but can also play in the midfield. Proffitt is a strong ball winner at central defense and can also slot in at defensive midfielder, although she lacks pace. Chicago would not have another pick until the end of the fourth round when they took another midfielder, Lauren Kaskie. The UCLA product fits Dames’ preference for hard workers.

Vasconcelos provides the most immediate need as a wide player will extend some shape to the Red Stars’ attack. Proffitt and Kaskie both offer depth in midfield and central defense, although there are questions as to whether Kaskie can make the jump to pro level. Chicago perhaps should have opted to bulk up their depth at outside back rather than centerback as there is a sharp drop-off without Arin Gilliland or Casey Short and they had the picks to do so. However, Dames is clearly stockpiling draft picks to use next year in case of expansion.

#6 – Washington Spirit

Between trades and injuries, Washington has holes across the board. Unfortunately, they had no picks until the end of the second round after trading them away.

The Spirit started their day by picking up Lindsey Agnew, a Canadian striker who is great one-v-one. They then acquired a familiar player, Spirit reserves center midfielder Meggie Dougherty-Howard, before taking Cameron Castleberry out of UNC with a late pick. Castleberry is a quick, solid winger but may find it hard to break onto the roster.

{JOHAL: Canadians make their mark on NWSL draft again}

Agnew is probably as good a forward as most on the board at pick no. 19, although you could make arguments for one or two that could have been better choices, but the question is whether the Spirit need one. Although Crystal Dunn and Estefania Banini departed, Jim Gabarra still has plenty left to choose from out of a group that consistently rotated starters last year. Dougherty-Howard is probably a better fit and could be a replacement for Christine Nairn, but she may need time to adapt. If Gabarra returns to the 4-3-3 formation he preferred most of last season, both Dougherty-Howard and Castleberry will have a hard time getting minutes. Defensive depth is needed as well, with Ali Krieger gone and Caprice Dydasco injured; and with Kelsey Wys injured and uncertainty about Stephanie Labbe’s future on the team, they may have wanted to look at goalkeepers as well.

#7 – Seattle Reign FC

Seattle entered the draft with several needs, none more gaping than center midfield, although right back is a pressing concern as well. Laura Harvey has not utilized the draft as strongly as other coaches have, but she did make a move to trade a 2018 pick with Chicago for their no. 16 pick.

They started out taking Stanford centerback Maddie Bauer in the first round. Bauer is technically strong and can anchor a back line. Katie Johnson, a forward who had a phenomenal College Cup with champions USC, was drafted with the pick from Chicago. Seattle again went for the attack with Arielle Ship before looking to defense in the last round with Kristen McNabb out of UVA.

While both Bauer and McNabb bulk up central defense, the team could use at least one fullback on the bench, if not starting on the right side. After losing both Kim Little and Keelin Winters, although gaining Christine Nairn, it’s surprising the Reign went for strikers with Johnson and Ship. Johnson in particular had an average career at USC before scoring a brace in the 2016 championship and is probably not worth the first-round pick given up to acquire her. Given that these picks don’t necessarily fill their needs and combine that with Harvey’s poor success in developing draft talent in the past, the Reign are left looking elsewhere for their missing pieces.

#8 – Portland Thorns FC

Unlike many teams, Portland doesn’t need much on the roster that remains nearly intact from its 2016 Shield-winning team. Barring a major trade or retirement, their star-studded lineup will be  hard to break into, and their bench proved their worth last year. That said, Mark Parsons did make some moves on draft day.

The Thorns started the day with UConn product Rachel Hill, a quick, lethal forward with a nose for goal. Surprising some, they then traded up with North Carolina, giving up two picks in order to take Savannah Jordan. She was probably the best forward in the draft but is expected to head to France. Portland made another trade in the third round, giving up two 2018 picks to Chicago and taking forward Tyler Lussi at no. 21. Lussi is an agile player who excels at slipping past defenders. Portland ended the draft by taking Caroline Flynn, an all-around midfielder, with the last pick.

Jordan could end up being a steal if she returns next year, and if any team can absorb a player going overseas, it’s Portland. That said, she still won’t be playing for them in 2017, and she would have brought some needed pace up top. Flynn is a serviceable midfielder but will be buried on the depth chart. While Hill and Lussi are both solid scorers, Portland could use defensive depth and would have been better served by taking a central defender.

#9 – Boston Breakers

After having the busiest offseason of any team so far, Boston came into the draft with seven draft picks, an astonishing four in the first round alone. They traded one second round pick to Chicago, leaving them with six players to patch up a team that is undergoing an overhaul from head to toe.

Rose Lavelle addresses the draft room at the JW Marriott after being the first player selected.

Rose Lavelle addresses the draft room at the JW Marriott after being the first player selected.

The Breakers went for the attack in the first round, taking midfielders Rose Lavelle and Morgan Andrews before taking strikers Ifeoma Onumonu and Margaret Purce. Lavelle is an outstanding prospect at any place in central midfield, while Andrews has struggled for consistency at attacking midfield but seemed to settle in her senior year. Purce and Onumonu both bring speed and athleticism. Boston then fell off the board until the fourth round, where they took USC goalkeeper Sammy Jo Prudhomme, a strong shot stopper and vocal leader, and another forward in Hayley Dowd, whose efficiency raises questions.

With so many high picks, Boston had every chance to win the draft. Lavelle and Andrews will likely slide right into the starting XI, replacing Louise Schillgard and building up a midfield that was nonexistent at times last year. Although Prudhomme or another goalkeeper of equal caliber probably could have been acquired elsewhere, she does provide a fairly strong backup option. Abby Smith’s recovery from injury is uncertain as of yet, and Libby Stout was serviceable but not outstanding. However, given that Boston already has a slew of forwards led by consistent scorer Natasha Dowie, taking three seems like overkill. The team has almost no depth on defense and is expected to be without starter and captain Whitney Engen. If even one forward was desired for depth, they still could have gotten both a center and outside defender.

#10 – North Carolina Courage

It would be easy to assume the reigning champions (RIP, Western New York Flash) aren’t in need of any roster tweaks, but that would be the wrong move. While their attack is top notch, the Courage struggled on defense at times and could use a few upgrades.

The Courage had the no. 2 pick and named Ashley Hatch, a pure goalscorer out of BYU who has already been capped by the senior USWNT. They followed up with Darian Jenkins, another forward who is currently recovering from a broken fibula. North Carolina native Claire Wagner, a physical centerback who is solid in the air, was drafted at the end of the second round, and the Courage finished the day with Jaycie Johnson, a highly efficient striker who had her second ACL surgery in December.

North Carolina drops largely because two of their picks are injured and unlikely to see the field in 2017. Unlike Portland, the Courage have more immediate needs, such as a stronger right back and more depth on defense. Jenkins would undeniably have been available at a later pick if they wanted. With the youth and efficiency of the Courage attack already in place, their picks would have been much better spent elsewhere.

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  • VaFan51

    Is Sarah Killion not a “strong central midfielder” for SkyBlue? Just called into WNT camp.

    • A good point

      And a UCLA product which never hurts with Ellis.

    • I was thinking the same thing.

    • Steglitz49

      She went down under and played for Adelaide.

      Adelaide is near the heart of the Australian wine industry, has a great festival theatre, but these days girls who can gravitate to Europe.
      Maybe going south for a winter holiday frolicking on the beach with plenty of Aussie lager has cooked her goose for the USWNT?

      • VaFan51

        Like I said — she is in the WNT camp right now. I guess “frolicking on the beach with plenty of Aussie lager” was not fatal.

    • DNG

      They might have just meant that they need another CM to play with Killian so their midfield does not get overrun if the send Rodriguez forward to play in the hole.

      • VaFan51

        The Carli Lloyd position.

        • DNG

          I don’t think Lloyd plays the trequartista role at all. She’s a second striker/poacher/target. Rodriguez would be more of a table setter an playmaker. They could play through her if they wanted where as Lloyd is basically a player in position to get on the end of final balls.

          • Steglitz49

            “trequartista”?!!? — what the FA? This game was invented by the Brits so please stick to English terminology on an American language site.

            A “three-quarter” is a rugby-term, if you did not know. Rugby talks about the three-quarters, which are the inside center, outside center and the two wings. Some throw in the scrum-half and fly-half too but they are generally considered halfbacks. The fullback is the fullback.

            Btw, back to basics_ do you know who designed Margaret Purce’s dress?

          • DNG

            The traditional 10 then.

          • mockmook

            Don’t let that knucklehead police your language.

      • GT

        Freeman could fill that role. It also depends on who doesn’t return (i.e. Rampone et. al.). Also I hear that there may be some trades in the works.

        • DNG

          I suppose they could try it if Rampone comes back. I’m not really sure they want a player like Rodriguez in the hole though. We should probably keep in mind that we are commenting on what the author of this article think SBFC needs(move Rocky forward) and that might not actually be something they want to do.

          • GT

            I think by moving forward, I think she meant more of a play maker and table setter rather than a forward.

          • DNG

            I think I see SBFC more as a defend solidly and then counter kind of team than a control the ball kind of team. At least against certain teams, for example Portland, where they are unlikely to control the ball no matter if they play 4 or 5 in midfield. I might opt for some more speed up front(KO up front) than Rodriguez on that team but I guess we’ll see what happens.

          • GT

            Agreed. The only two ball control players are Rocky and Killian. The rest are more physical “run and gun” type players. As I said in a previous article, based on the players on the roster as of now, I’d like to see a back line of Mills, Rampone, Grubka and Skroski. Two holding mids Killian and Freeman. Three attacking mids, Galton, Rodriguez and O’Hara and Kerr up top by herself. If that doesn’t produce enough scoring opportunities, move O’Hara up with Kerr and slide either Killian or Freeman into and attacking mid spot.

          • FawcettFan14

            Any word on the former Sky Blue players who are playing elsewhere and/or didn’t officially retire? I’m thinking of Brittany Cameron (playing in Japan), Lindsi Cutshall (sat out 2016 due to injury), Katy Freels (wanted to be closer to husband).

            Have their ships all sailed as far as SBFC is concerned?

          • Rufan

            I think drafting Sheridan implies SB knows/suspects Cameron is not coming back (I thought SB would go for Campbell), I always thought Freels was gone for good, and I don’t know about Cutshall although she also got married a number of years ago.

          • mockmook

            SBFC already looks like a favorite (on paper) to go to the Championship this year. But, imagine how much stronger they would be if Freels, Cutshall, and Haagsma all came back.

          • GT

            No info on this. I think you are correct. I think their ships all sailed as far as SBFC is concerned. Does anyone know if SBFC still owns “their rights”? If so perhaps they may figure in a trade, but I doubt it.

          • mockmook

            Oh, no, I say.

            This midfield (especially the central midfield) will be able to go toe to toe with anyone:

            http://drawformation.com/post/587d7e4a5fb61/sm-587d7e4a5fb61.png

          • Another career?

            A young starting lineup: 3 rookies, 3 second year, and two third year players. Even Kerr is only 23!
            PS- if Rampone is not back (I assume), then Kai may not since they are close.

          • mockmook

            Sounds a lot like WNY

          • DNG

            Eh this line up still looks rather direct to me but I guess you could argue that most NWSL teams do as well. My idea of playing a more counter attacking system with SBFC is mostly to maximize Kerr who is a much better attacker when she’s running in space. The Nadim, Kerr, O’hara front three two seasons ago was a good counter attacking front line. They might be successful with a font three of Galton, KO, and Kerr in a similar tactical approach. Their defense should be solid with their additions. I don’t really see them as title contenders right now but I do see them as potential playoff contenders. I think Washington, Orlando and Boston will probably be the bottom three. I think FCKC will be back to being very good this year.

          • mockmook

            “this line up still looks rather direct to me”

            I have no idea what you mean in this context.

            If you mean that the mids will be just bombing the ball forward, I don’t see that at all.

          • DNG

            No I don’t mean direct an as in bombing balls over the top and always trying to play attackers in behind. I mean it in that they are a north and south team, they are best when attacking quickly after regaining possession and trying to move the ball up the field with fewer actions as oppose to a team like the Portland(at full strength) who would prefer to build up through each third of the field. They might be able to break teams down like an indirect team as well but I don’t think they will get consistent results from that approach or maximize Kerr’s skill set. She’s very fast, good at running with the ball, and can finish.

            As far as the terms direct and indirect, I think all teams incorporate characteristics of both styles. I would classify FCKC, Seattle(last three years) and Portland as playing a more possession oriented style compared to the rest of the NWSL. All three of those teams like to play long balls, crosses and hit on quick counters when it’s appropriate as well which I categorized as more direct play. It’s supplemental to their usual game plans of breaking teams down and controlling matches. A team like Houston is on the other end of the spectrum. They are a very transitional team and I think at their best when the game is open and constantly transitioning quickly from attacking to defending.

        • Another career?

          “…Freeman could be used at centerback as a successor to Christie Rampone…” Maybe the author knows something about Rampone that has not been announced yet by SB?
          The Rampones are starting up two Jersey Mike’s franchises, which would keep them busy.

          • GT

            If Rampone retires, then yes I would prefer Freeman to fill her CB position. If not I’d like to see her as a holding midfielder which apparently she is good at too.

          • mockmook

            I think either Mills or Freeman can be that DM (with Killion)

          • #1Fan

            Skorski is really a CB.

  • ” Defensively, KC will be glad for the added depth, allowing Yael Averbuch to return to her rightful place in the midfield. ”

    I’m not so sure about this. She proved pretty effective at defense. Maybe she moves up to DM, but I thought she did very well in the back last year, especially considering she had never played there before.

    • mockmook

      Yeah, I’m not sure they plan on moving Averbuch either — thought she did a great job

      • I thought she was okay. I have that Press goal where she juked Averbuch 3 times and hit the upper 90 burned into my mind. Admittedly, I didn’t watch a ton of KC games last year, which is probably why that is what I think of.

        • Steglitz49

          Do Press goals count? Seeing that she can’t score them when it matters.

          • Yep, they count. You know it is possible to like both Press and Morgan.. ? But humor me and show me one goal that Alex has ever scored that looks like the one I’m referencing above.

          • Steglitz49

            Alex’s goals for the USWNT are well known and respected. Alex is WoSo’s answer to Charlotte Kalla in X-country skiing.

          • HOFCToDi

            Not even nominated for the Puskas Award.

            fifa.com/the-best-fifa-football-awards/puskas-award/index.html

          • HOFCToDi

            Alex Morgan was already a WINNER at the age of 19.

            youtube.com/watch?v=PacY7Enz9hQ

            2008 Goal of the Year declared

            fifa.com/theclub/news/newsid=999807/index.html

            USA striker Alex Morgan’s 42nd-minute winner against Korea in the final of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Chile 2008 is rated as the second best goal of the year. Morgan walked away with the Adidas Silver Ball and Bronze Shoe awards for her four goals and stellar performance at the tournament.

          • Ethan

            Exactly like? None that I can think of. Then again, I can’t think of many, if any, goals scored like Morgan’s disallowed one against China (brilliant first touch and an even better second to chip the goalkeeper) or her outside of the boot flick past Naeher in WPS.

        • DNG

          Would a better defender have blocked Press’ shot? Maybe, but it’s certainly not a given. Yael giving up the shot from that location really isn’t a bad shot to give up. 95 times out of 100 that shot does not turn into a goal. This is a goal where I think the defender says I did the best I could and got beat by a world class strike.

      • #1Fan

        Unless you plan on playing her as a deep lying playmaker, i would not move her to DM. She is so so smart and so good technically, but lacks foot speed and physicality to be a DM in this league. At CB she ahs the whole game in forn of her and has more time. I think she is a really good CB becasue she reads it well and makes great passes out of the back. Would lever her where she is.

      • Steglitz49

        What happened to Yael’s writing for the NYT? I am surprised that she is still playing.

  • Movement

    No way the Courage had the worst draft.
    Ashley Hatch alone is a future USWNT player. At the very least, she could be traded in the future for a first round pick and an international slot. It’s not like they can’t mortgage or reverse mortgage her into something better.

    Boston had the most disappointing draft based on what they had coming in.
    They should have gotten more bang for their buck, because they had 3 times as much “currency” coming into this draft as anyone else, based on all the high picks they had. You could argue Portland’s three picks (Hill, Jordan, Lussi) are virtually as strong as Boston’s (Lavelle, Andrews, Onumonu).

    The Breakers should have taken Mandy Freeman late in the first round.
    They also shouldn’t have traded any more draft picks, when they originally had 7 of the Top 21 picks a few weeks ago.

    They had #1, #3, #9, #11, #12, #16, #21, and #31.

    They could have taken:

    1.) Rose Lavelle, 3.) Morgan Andrews, 9.) Mandy Freeman, 11.) Ifeoma Onumonu, 12.) Jane Campbell, 16.) Savannah Jordan, 21.) Tyler Lussi, 31.) McKenzie Meehan, and Non-Drafted free agent: Hayley Dowd

    Freeman gives them solid defense.
    They already acquired Allysha Chapman as an outside back.

    If Savannah Jordan choose not to play for them, they trade her rights to another team for an international slot and a quality reserve player (at the very least). Or maybe Jordan plays for the Breakers, for 2/3 of a season after coming back from Europe. If she is the savior that scores goals for them, and wins them some games, she is noticed even that much more by the national team.

    If the Breakers draft who I stated up above, they easily win this draft hands down, and it goes down as the best draft in NWSL history for any single team.

    • mockmook

      You have Boston taking tons of Forwards when they need help everywhere — your solution is as bad as the problem

    • mockmook

      “Ashley Hatch alone is a future USWNT player.”

      Yes, what a shock — How Brilliant!!!! — getting a top quality player with the #2 pick…

      • Thought they may have wanted to go for Gibbons instead of Hatch with the #2 pick. They already have Williams and McDonald are their starting forwards. Is Hatch better than either of them? Not that depth is a bad thing, but kinda saw them taking a defender before a forward.

        Oh yea, Riley coaches this team. Never mind.

        • mockmook

          My point was, unless there was a complete and utter brain meltdown, the #2 pick was going to be a VERY VERY GOOD player.

          “Ashley Hatch alone is a future USWNT player.”

          And, can’t that be said of Gibbons, too?
          (She is currently in the USWNT Camp)

    • Steglitz49

      They picked Margaret Purce and by picking her in the first round, they and Ms Purce got a lot of free publicity.

  • Diane (DeeG)

    I’d say Boston has more of a problem not being able to win on the road than overall defense. At home they were very competitive defensively, but on the road they were horrible. I’m not sure Beard is done with building his roster for 2017, but is in a good place going forward. Not sure how Boston is below Seattle here, guess we’ll see.

    • Steglitz49

      Hit the road, Jacquie, and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more.

    • DNG

      They conceded 19 goals at home last year. Is it better than 28 Away? Sure but it’s certainly still very bad. They had a bunch of close results for the first 2 months but couldn’t score. Then they traded Zerboni to WNY and got plastered the rest of the season. I’m not sure Lavelle is going to be a great B2B in this league. she’s really more of an ACM just like Morgan Andrews and they didn’t draft a solid CB when they knew Engen most likely would not be back with them for this year. If they weren’t as bad as the Reign they were close.

  • Arcie Tillydee

    “Portland could use defensive depth and would have been better served by taking a central defender.”

    Agreed. A CB or central-lying d-mid will have a very, very difficult time breaking into the 11 (with Amandine Henry and the “Great Wall of Emily” in place), but the Thorns lack depth in the back, with Kat Williamson retiring, etc. But Ellie Boon was still on the table, and she’s a known local quantity…a perfect depth pick, really. My only thought is that the FO might know she’s planning to come to open tryouts (being a local…) and was willing to risk no one taking her.

    I’m kind of wondering if Parsons will be using Allie Long in defensive positions, perhaps even as part of a 3-at-the-back (with both Emilies…), a la Jill Ellis’ experiment. Not sure how I’d feel about that…

    • DNG

      I think Reynolds is the back up CB although she was also the starting RB so I don’t know how comfortable you should be about that. Other than CB and maybe RB I think the Thorns are fine on depth. Not sure the Thorns have the CBs for three at the back though.

      • tonysocref

        The reasons some of us have concerns about the defense of the Thorns are:
        Kling had a meh 2016 for both the Thorns and NT and is currently nursing a back injury.
        Johnson has not played a match since the 15-16 W-League season because of a concussion.
        Morris is still rehabbing from a broken hip.
        This leaves the Thorns with Sonnet, Menges and Reynolds.
        If Kling, Johnson and Morris return to 2015 form then they should be fine at LB and RB. CB is still an issue.

        • Steglitz49

          A broken hip? Did she fly off a motorbike at speed?

        • Arcie Tillydee

          Exactly. The Thorns are just an injury and/or call-ups away from real depth problems on the back line. That’s why I thought passing on Ellie Boon in the draft was strange.

          • DNG

            Call-ups are always going to hit the Thorns hard. I don’t think they will be in serious trouble unless Johnson, Morris and Klingenberg don’t recover though. Weber also covered at OB a couple of times last year and I though she played okay there. Their only other issues is if they sustain two injuries to trio of Reynolds, Menges, and Sonnett but when looking at the rest of the league is there any other team that wouldn’t struggle to replace two of their three starting back line? The Thorns actually did reasonably well defending against Seattle at PP last year with a back 5 of Skogerboe, Boureille, Menges, Reynolds, and Webber. As long as they don’t lose 2 CBs and Long or Henry for an extended period of time all at the same time they should be okay.

        • DNG

          I’m guessing that all the injured players will be ready or close to ready by the start of the season and I think that Weber was played at OB a couple of times last year and did fine. I think the Thorns will be able to stay organized defensively even if they do have to deal with injuries. That was something I though Parson’s did very well last year in most of the games without the NT players. CB might be a slight concern but even an injury to one of Sonnett, Reynolds, and Menges they should be able to cope.

    • mockmook

      “Knowing” the Jordan situation, if I’m the Thorns I don’t trade for position in the draft. They could have gotten this:

      14 . Thorns — Driesse ( M ) – PSU
      20 . Thorns — Kolander ( F ) – Minnesota
      27 . Thorns — Raben ( D ) – Duke
      40 . Thorns — Boon ( D ) – Portland

      I think Dagny needs to be challenged for her spot by Driesse — plus she (and Henry and Nadim) misses time for the Euros.

      Kolander is insurance for Sinclair and is unlike other Forwards (5-11, fast, good technically)

      Raben is an athletic and versatile CB, likely would also work fine as a RB

      • Steglitz49

        Jordan is an investment for the future. Either she plays for Portland or she goes elsewhere and gets even better. A win-win for Portland.

        • mockmook

          They need players who are always there, not another All Star who is in and out of the line-up

          • Steglitz49

            If Ms Jodan does not play abroad, she will play for Portland. How much, is up to Portland’s coach.

            If Ms Jordan finds a berth abroad, she will play abroad and not for Portland. That could be for a season or two but to be in consideration for the WNT, she needs to be back in the US by 2019.

            I suspect that the foreign play was always a ploy not to get picked by Boston or some other team she did not fancy.

  • Gary Diver

    Savannah Jordan, Kadeisha Buchanan, and College Degrees

    Do we know whether Savannah Jordan is taking courses now and planning to graduate this spring? Has she made any public statements? If she wants to play in Europe this spring, she will have to drop out of college.

    Kadeisha Buchanan has obviously left WVU to play for Lyon now. Is Ashley Lawrence playing now for PGS? Buchanan and Lawrence were roommates at WVU. Dropping out of college after 3 1/2 years is a big obstacle to completely a college degree. It is hard to be motivated to take classes when you are working on developing a professional career.

    • Steglitz49

      Maybe they have a deal to do it by distance learning and the clubs are giving them help with supervision and electronic access?

      • Gary Diver

        Maybe, but it is not easy. Sort of “out of sight, out of mind”. It is similar to when students ask for extensions to complete their classes. Very often it doesn’t end well for the student.

        • Steglitz49

          Lindsey Horan never went to college.

          • Gary Diver

            True and college is not for everybody. But if you put in 3 1/2 years, it is a shame if you don’t complete your degree.

          • Steglitz49

            They will. Don’t worry. Else, we would have heard about it by now.

  • romel dias

    Harvey’s poor success rate! lol and how…Harvey’s system is something that most American pros have a hard time adjusting to…you really think that the rookies can take that on? Nice try

    Also from the crop we had young Fris and Solaun hit with season ending injuries..so that can’t be on LH! Then we have standouts like Nairn, Kop and Pickett! Say what you want!

    • Steglitz49

      They have yet to win the Championship.

      • romel dias

        what does that have to do with a rookie playing well? and if two Championship finals and winning the league two years in the row while compiling one of the best wins to losses ratios after that horror of a first year then I don’t know what you are talking about kind sir!

        • Steglitz49

          Winning the league when there is a playoff is not worth a pitcher of warm spit. Ask any losing Stanley Cup finalist. Remember 8-1 in 1981?

          • romel dias

            thats your pitcher to want!

    • DNG

      It was specifically talking about the draft. I think it’s a pretty fair assessment of the way Harvey has built her teams. She uses draft picks to trade for assets sure, but she hasn’t built her teams through drafts the way coaches like Vlatko and Dames have.