The Lowdown: Thoughts from the 2017 draft experience

Dan Lauletta January 17, 2017 130
Because the draft was right next to USWNT camp, No. 1 pick Rose Lavelle was able to attend. (photo by Dan Lauletta)

Because the draft was right next to USWNT camp, No. 1 pick Rose Lavelle was able to attend. (photo by Dan Lauletta)

With a little help from the cozy locale in Southern California, the fifth NWSL draft achieved a new milestone when all 10 players selected in the 1st round were in attendance. After each of them accepted their new team scarves—warmup jackets for the two Courage draftees—and addressed the room, the group posed for an historic photo that also served to highlight NWSL’s growing diversity.

“I’m just particularly excited. There are so many stereotypes about black women playing soccer that all we are is fast. The world is changing. I can’t put my finger on it, why now there are more women of color playing the game, but all I can say is this sport is growing so with that comes diversity,” Crystal Dunn said.

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)

Dunn was speaking on the opening day of the annual  January camp where this year’s top pick Rose Lavelle and No. 5 choice Christina Gibbons are also participating. The camp is in Carson which, depending on Los Angeles traffic, is anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour from the JW Marriott where the draft took place. That proximity allowed those players to be there for their draft moment. But they were not the only reasons the latest version of the NWSL draft took the event to new heights.

“It’s important that our players have another platform, so to go now and become a professional is going to help us down the line,” United States national team coach Jill Ellis said when asked about Lavelle. “We were obviously very happy, gave her a round of applause at the meeting and excited for her to begin a new journey.”

Sunil Gulati, president of U.S. Soccer and the person credited with the groundbreaking idea of having the pro league subsidized by the North American federations, posted this popular tweet tracing the evolution from the first player grab four years ago in Indianapolis.

That first draft was closed to the public, and the media (which did not include me that day) were kept in a separate room away from the clubs. As such, the picks hit Twitter before the press was alerted. This year’s event was a massive party in a massive ballroom complete with a live stream and an array of woso luminaries including Ellis and some of her players.

Here are five other observations from the experience that was the 2017 NWSL Draft.

the keeper game produces major surprise

The depth and nature of this draft was such that surprises were inevitable, but none sent murmurs through the room like when the Dash used the No. 15 pick on Stanford keeper Jane Campbell. It wasn’t that Campbell was the first keeper off the board—some expected Sky Blue to grab her at No. 10—it was that the Dash came into the day with a solid starter/backup combination of Lydia Williams and Bianca Henninger.

The Dash took Jane Cambpell at No. 15 sending shock waves at the draft room inside the JW Marriott.

The Dash took Jane Campbell at No. 15 sending shock waves at the draft room inside the JW Marriott.

“I just felt like we couldn’t pass on her when she became available,” Dash coach Randy Waldrum said. “I just thought she was the best player on the board at the time. She would be the goalkeeper I think you can bank your future on.”

The Dash spent much of 2016 without a pick in the first three rounds of the 2017 draft. That changed when they sent Allysha Chapman to Boston for the No. 15 pick. With that pick, the club began to eye a goalkeeper of the future.

‘We wanted (Campbell),” Waldrum said. “There was another keeper that we really liked. We had some discussions about whether we would take a keeper with that pick at 15. As it got closer we got a little antsy hoping it would play out that way.”

Sometimes picks are made based on roster information we don’t yet know about. But Waldrum was adamant that Williams will be back in 2017 although he added that as a player who lives in Australia, you never know from one year to the next. Waldrum added that he could go into the season with three keepers, but with a 20-woman roster limit that seems like wasting a key spot. I’ll be looking for Henninger to be moved before opening day.
One of the teams that entered the day needing a goalkeeper was Sky Blue and they came into the day without a 2nd round pick which looked to be about where Campbell would land. Unbeknownst to nearly everyone in the room though, the player Christy Holly really wanted was Kailen Sheridan. He had to sweat out seven picks between the Dash taking Campbell at No. 15 and his next selection at No. 23. At one point he called a timeout and came close to trading up, but in the end his patience paid off and he got the goalkeeper he wanted.

{MORE DRAFT COVERAGE: Bush’s team-by-team analysis of 2017 NWSL Draft}

The only other goalkeeper taken was Sammy Jo Prudhomme to Boston at No. 31. That was another surprise since the Breakers had one more pick and there were several other keepers lingering who are likely to get invites to preseason camps. The Breakers subsequently missed out on Nickolette Driesse, who some consider the steal of the draft to the Pride at No. 32 plus local product McKenzie Meehan who went No. 34 to Sky Blue. Word is that Breakers coach Matt Beard thought Meehan would still be there for him at No. 38.

Jeff Plush speaks

Jeff Plush does not avail himself to the media very often but his press conference during or after the draft has become a staple. Here are some highlights of the NWSL commissioner’s chat with the press last week.

1) Plush on the collective bargaining negotiations between U.S. Soccer and the national team players: “We’re not part of that negotiation. I know that our camps will open and our players will be excited to be there. That will have to run its course and when that gets done, those players will be in camp as well. I have a lot of confidence in the long term.”

NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush says the FOX deal is not an exclusive. (Photo Copyright Jeff Kassouf for The Equalizer)

NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush says the FOX deal is not an exclusive. (Photo Copyright Jeff Kassouf for The Equalizer)

Pressed for an answer about whether national team players could sit out of the start of NWSL preseason if the CBA is not done, the commissioner would offer no assurances: “I’m not going to comment on what could happen.”

{MORE: Alex Morgan says USWNT strike still possible}

The next day, USWNT co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said the players had “every intention” of being in NWSL preseason, but she too stopped short of making it a guarantee.

2) On the salary structure Plush said details of how that will work in 2017 will be out in short order with increases across the board. The league is trying to increase player salaries but “we have to be prudent” as the league crawls slowly to sustainability. Plush said the short-term priority is to boost the bottom end and that there are no current plans for a designated player rule.

3) On the HB-2 issue in North Carolina, Plush said he plans to meet with Courage ownership and government officials in North Carolina and the Raleigh area. “I feel strongly that we are going to be participants in this and not just on the sideline. We welcome opinions. I (am not) for one second going to sit here and tell you I have all the answers. There is a lot more for me to learn certainly.

“We are not naïve. I have 100% confidence in the North Carolina ownership group and 100% confidence in the governor. We’ll get after it. We’ll work and be somebody I hope you can be proud of.”

The commissioner was further pushed on a question about whether the league had taken the safety of transgender fans into account when they approved the move to North Carolina.

“We’ve taken everyone into consideration with this announcement.”

4) On expansion and television Plush offered optimism on both fronts.

“The level of confidence is high,” he said about expansion.

“On the television front I am very confident we will have a TV deal that will be significantly more robust than in the past.”

When asked about adding national sponsors, Plush said the answer was at least partially tied to the television deal. He also added that NWSL needs to work to become a national property in order to be more attractive to sponsors.

5) Mexico will not be participating in allocation again in 2017. Allocations for the United States and Canada will be announced “in the near term.”

6) Plush confirmed the schedule will expand back to 24 games. The first four seasons had schedules of 22, 24, 20 and 20 games respectively.

From Freshman to seniors

This marked the first draft ever in women’s pro soccer that the senior class was able to track the same league through the duration of their careers (redshirts notwithstanding.) They were freshmen in 2013, meaning they went through recruiting and committing while NWSL was furiously preparing for it’s inaugural season.

“When I was a freshman the only future I could see and aim for was with U.S. Soccer,” Breakers 1st round pick Margaret Purce said. “To have another paradigm to prepare for was amazing and an exciting thing to prepare for.”

Margaret Purce got an Ivy League education at Harvard and also became a 1st round pick in NWSL.

Margaret Purce got an Ivy League education at Harvard and also became a 1st round pick in NWSL.

“As a freshman in college you’re not sure where you’re career is going to go and what’s going to happen,” FC Kansas City 1st rounder Christina Gibbons concurred. “There’s always the dream of playing afterwards. I’m very thankful the league has sustained through five years so I have an opportunity to play. That’s the dream.”

Who is the new favorite?

There are still roster moves to be made, but things are beginning to come together ahead of preseason and it is no longer too early to start talking about who the favorites are for the 2017 season. One thing we know is that this year’s NWSL Championship rematches will have an odd feel to them with the Flash now the North Carolina Courage and the Spirit roster a shell of the one that finished runners-up.

Beyond that the Flash were not close to being the best team during the season. That honor went to the Spirit and Thorns, and a mostly untouched Thorns side has to be tipped as favorites at this point. The Courage, though, should keep getting better and assuming the move goes smoothly and Riley (more about his status below) can keep them motivated, figure to be right in the mix.

The Red Stars have been impressive in terms of keeping their core group together over the last three seasons and barring some unexpected moves between now and April, appear on their way to doing so again. When I asked Rory Dames before the draft if he was down to simply fine-tuning the group, he offered up an interesting answer.

“We were a crossbar away from being in the final. The growth in the group from the start of the year to the end of the year was significant. When you have that amount of growth and you get that amount of buy-in from a group you don’t want to mess with it a lot. You just look for a few pieces that can make it better and not disrupt the flow of the group. That’s probably where we are this year, and that’s the first time we’ve been in that place.

“Do I think we deserved to win last year? No, probably not. Do I think we were good enough to win? Yeah, on any day we probably could have. But I think the way that it ended will be more motivation than anything I could have hoped for when everybody rolls back in. That was a pretty grim locker room. That’s the biggest kind of sting we’ve had. I think the group really felt like we were peaking. That feeling that was left with the group will really help.”

The buzz team figures to be FC Kansas City. After a draft that drew near universal praise plus the impending returns of Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux, the two-time champions could be poised to rebound after missing out on the playoffs for the first time.

For my money—right now—those are the four best sides in NWSL. Thorns, Courage, Red Stars, FC Kansas City. But stay tuned…

The Jordan factor

A few weeks before the draft I joked with Thorns coach Mark Parsons that he would use his No. 27 pick to take Savannah Jordan. He laughed and said there was no way Jordan would last that long.

Parsons was right of course, and it was his trade to get into the No. 18 pick that pulled Jordan off the board. The Florida goal-scoring machine would have been an easy Top 5 pick if she had not signaled her intent to play in Europe (she is expected to sign in France.)

This is not the first time the Thorns have dabbled in the futures market. In 2013 they took Amber Brooks No. 24 even after she had signed with Bayern Munich. She returned and suited up for the Thorns in 2014 and remains in NWSL today.

That the Thorns traded up to take Jordan would indicate more than one team was chomping at the bit to grab her, but there are multiple reasons why they were the perfect team to take the flyer. One is, they don’t really need a whole lot that the draft was going to help them with (Parsons said he contemplated Jordan at No. 14 but was delighted when Rachel Hill was still available and took her instead.) Second, the Thorns are now a well-established club with a worldwide reputation as one of the finest on the globe. As much as we may dislike the disparity, players are going to be much more likely to return from overseas for certain markets, and Portland leads that charge.

This one is worth keeping an eye on. I would not be surprised to see Savannah Jordan in Portland when 2018 rolls around.

Extra Time

-I bumped into an agent who represents a variety of female athletes across many different sports. One of the themes of our chat was how impressive it was to see so many different elements of American soccer together in the same place at the same time.

-Paul Riley was at the Courage draft table and told Big Apple Soccer’s Michael Lewis he is attempting to iron out contract details to stay on as head coach. In his first year with the then Western New York Flash, he guided the young club to an unexpected NWSL Championship.

-The league’s newest hire, Amanda Duffy, was a prominent part of draft day. The new Managing Director of Operations was the first person to take the stage and called out about half of the selections. Plush said there was no good reason for the league not to formally introduce Duffy other than to say they were busy dealing with things like the Flash sale to Steve Malik. Meanwhile, one prominent person affiliated with the league believed it was a bad look for Plush and Duffy to keep alternating as the person announcing the picks.

-Loved the story of Margaret Purce and her older brother arguing over the Twitter handle @100Purcent. In the end, Margaret won the rights to it in high school following a wild game of rock-paper-scissors.

-One of the best parts of the draft is when, during the later rounds, a name is called and a section of the room explodes into applause. That happened this year when the Pride grabbed Nickolette Dreisse with the No. 32 pick. No matter how careers turn out, being drafted is a moment these players will never forget.

-As I chatted with Vlatko Andonovski, Rory Dames and Laura Harvey, it occurred to me they are all about to enter their fifth season with their respective franchises (Dames actually took over the Red Stars in 2011 before the club joined NWSL.) I thought back to the first five seasons of Major League Soccer and realized that of that league’s 10 original coaches, only one—Dave Dir in Dallas—lasted into a fifth season. (To be fair, Bruce Arena left D.C. United after three seasons to take the U.S. job. Dir was fired after his fifth season.)

-I framed one question to Andonovski by reminding him that no one outside of Kansas City knew who he was when the team hired him. He cut me off and said: “Not too many people in Kansas City knew who I was either.”

-Make no mistake about it – Laura Harvey wanted Christina Gibbons.

-I take it as an excellent sign that Courage ownership allowed the existing technical team, led by Charlie Naimo, to handle the draft.

  • “…a bad look for Plush and Duffy to keep alternating as the person announcing the picks.”


    • sandrae gunter

      I wonder who had that thought? It was quite refreshing to see someone new from the league office

    • Som Termanni

      Lol, my comment was purged for including a word that Rogo said on the broadcast. The draft’s gaffe-prone media presentation was far more of a “bad look” than having the director of ops announce draft picks while the commissioner talks to the press, which everyone complains he doesn’t do nearly often enough.

      • Steglitz49

        The EQ uses a computer program to moderate. I once quoted Harry Truman and was purged.

    • The only reason I didn’t like it it because I missed the beginning of the live broadcast so when Duffy stepped up to announce in the second round I was like.. “Who is this?” – figured it out afterwards.

      • Som Termanni

        Yeah, if only the league had announced that they’d hired Amanda Duffy as an ops director at any point, instead of trying to inexplicably bury good news.

  • kernel_thai

    I would add one of the key things this year was having the draft near the running U23 camp. As a lot of players r drafted in this league with the coach never having actually seen them play live, it would be very interesting to see how many selections changed based on being able to watch the U23s scrimmage.

    • Dan Lauletta

      This is a good question and I can tell you that several coaches were at U-23 camp before the draft including Vlatko who was there for almost all of it.

    • Steglitz49

      Who cares? Draft them on pedigree, looks and charm!

      They can all play soccer and chew gum at the same time. That is a given.

    • Breakers fan

      Excellent thought and question. Was it reported that a lot of, all (?) of the NWSL coaches did go to that scrimmage/training session?

      • #1Fan

        if you are flip flopping over one scrimmage then you really were not sold on your player. I could see it helping with later selections

        • Breakers fan

          Exactly — if you didn’t see enough of your top picks during the entire college season to have some certainty, faith and trust that you had chosen the right person then you just weren’t sure across the board, and probably didn’t spend enough time watching her or others play. That said, there can be, I think, something about the live, up close and personal viewing experience, even if it’s for a short amount of time that…potentially…..could win someone over quickly. No way to know if that happened to, for any coach in this instance.

          • mockmook

            How many clubs have the budget and the personnel to adequately scout the NCAA (especially since the seasons mostly run concurrently)?

            I think the U-23 was likely the only opportunity they had to see some of these players live (and seeing them live is paramount for good scouting).

            Plus, this was a great opportunity to see players for future drafts.

          • Breakers fan

            Agree – not enough resources to scout adequately. But…that said many,many games were shown on espn3, (and are archived there), a good amount also on the big conference cable networks, and you do have a staff who can be deployed also to watch games. So lots can be done for free if you’re devoted and organized. A great thing to know would be, for each organization: How many pairs of eyes for your organization watched, in their entirety, how many college games this past season? Just to see how devoted each team was to preparing for the draft in comparison with one another. Not that time necessarily guarantees expertise.

            I agree about the live viewing experience and how most likely it was the only chance that a lot had to see some of the draft-eligible players in person. Do we know which coaches went to that training session and scrimmage?

          • Steglitz49

            Do you why Boston picked Margaret Purce — except for the free PR, I mean. Did her dress swing it?

          • rkmid71

            I agree with #1Fan. In the NBA, they would bring potential draftees in for private workouts. While it was interesting for talent evaluators to see players in action, they learned it was also risky in one off tryout or game. Eventually they earned to not place much weight on what they saw or allow whatever they saw to replace what they knew to be true. A great shooter might have an off day. A great rebounder might get pushed around. If a guy was a 90% free throw shooter in college, it didn’t matter if he missed 6 straight in a private workout. Scouts also tended to form near instant impressions around which all other data tended to organize itself. Confirmation bias. The human mind was bad at seeing things it did not expect to see and eager to see what it expected to see. In NWSL, no club has the budget or personnel to adequately scout. I have no doubt there are many great players not drafted.

          • Breakers fan

            Well-said. The best scouts are aware of the dangers of what you wrote about above and they can self-reflect as they watch a game and particular actions by players. They can know to say “yeah, that was a bad pass (or shot) but I’m not going to jump to any conclusions based on that, put any real weight on it, because I like a lot about what I see in this player and I’ve seen the best hit absolutely horrid shots, make awful passes as well,” Scouts I think have to both pay close attention – i think it can be possible to learn a good deal in a short time – but at the same time I think they need to give time to continuing to watch that player to confirm what their suspicions are about her. So, scouting a player can be, I think, a weird combination of learning a lot quickly — maybe, with the best of players/athletes – but also waiting around to make sure you’re right about that. And that goes for not ruling a player out too quickly either. You have to keep an open mind about players who have succeeded, even if your initial reaction is negative, for whatever reason occurred in YOUR head. You have to be able to look at yourself and say “I think THIS because I saw THAT and that’s the ONLY reason I have this overall negative evaluation of this player. Now, am I going to be stuck in that, do I think I’m that perceptive and smart, or am I going to keep watching this player and allowing her to maybe change my mind? A mind that jumped to a conclusion very quickly, if I’m honest.”

            A scout has to be able to do that,. To not have an ego about conclusions he drew really quickly. To be willing to discard them or defend them as new data about the player informs him. Not saying his feeling about a player have to change, just that he should keep an open mind always and always be honest about what he’s seeing in the present and also, as you said, know how to weigh each individual action. You’re only going to see isloate flecks. You need to be able to project them into what a player could be for your team. There isn’t enough time to see every player unlimitedly, though the more you see the better it is.

            Like your noticing of that NC State forward this year — what is her name? Kia ____ ? Tell me how you formed your impressions of her. What was the process in your viewing of her that led to you thinking she has great abilities and potential?

          • rkmid71

            Kia Rankin. She was out with injury in NCAA tournament. Really the process was sort of random … it was a function of watching my daughter play at the same time! So saw her for many years on the club soccer scene, but particularly up close in U18 for many highly competitive games. Believe me, she was a force to be reckoned with..Elite athleticism. Strong, fast and very agile especially for someone that size. Hopefully not overstating, but sort of a leaner, quicker version of Leroux or a bigger stronger version of Dunn. Good header of the ball too. In a way, made the game a lot easier for the mids/defenders as goals much easier to come by.

            I predicted before the season started that NC State would have a breakout year. I’ve seen many players over the years selected for YNTs on U18 and U20 and not sure how she wasn’t selected as forward (maybe AM as well) as compared to others. Maybe she was one of those players that was more of a late bloomer, wasn’t selected at U14 and therefore not in the system, etc etc?. If she can stay healthy (she plays hard) and NC State can get a few more players they will do well again next year. I might have some others I’ve watched over the years to add to my list this coming year. The YNT coaches should really pay close attention to players that are big difference makers to their team in college — irrespective of whether they have been part of YNT pools in the past.

          • Breakers fan

            Sorry for the late reply. Great post here about Rankin. I did see her at their away game vs. Boston College last year, as I mentioned at the time. She did impress me but I didn’t know that she was the player I should be focusing on. That’s just 1 game and you’ve seen her a LOT more so I easily defer to your viewpoint. I agree 100% with what you wrote at the end of your post too. I hope Rankin is kept within the YNTs’ ‘s sights. She’s the type of player who intrigues me the most – the elite athlete who is also tough and does have soccer skills too. I wish her the best and thanks for alerting us to her. Look forward to maybe some more names from you next year!

          • Reality

            FYI…Adriana Leon is back in Boston…

            “The Boston Breakers announced today the signing of Canadian forward Adriana Leon, pending receipt of her P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC). Per team and league policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.”


          • Breakers fan

            Thanks, Reality. I had seen that via the Breakers twitter page, but thanks for the notice as sometimes I’m late on these things. They had announced yesterday that there would be a roster update so I was pretty much glued to the computer today waiting for it. Your thoughts on Leon? I know she was with CRS a couple years ago. I’m intrigued. My image of her is as a fast, hustling forward but that’s about where it stops. She’ll take over Kyah Simon’s vacated int’l slot. A bit of a glut at forward for the Breakers – not sure how they’ll find playing time for all of Dowie, Haavi, Onumonu, Purce, Leon and maybe Hayley Dowd but it’s nice to have options and one would think that a competitive atmosphere will exist in practice among them to get time on the pitch.

          • Reality

            I liked Leon when she was on CRS but she didn’t seem to fit into Dames’s system. Since Boston, as you point out, seems to have an excess of forwards, perhaps there will be a trade in the works…perhaps with Chicago?:)

            But CRS seems pretty set right now with their roster. What do you think Boston needs to improve the team and what position or player would you like to see as an acquisition?

          • Breakers fan

            I get the strong sense from what I’ve heard Coach Beard say of late that there will be no more moves – no more trades, but one never knows.I think he plans to go ahead with this roster. I was waiting for this last int’l slot to be filled and now it has been. I’d love another quality defender and midfielder. I wrote after the draft who I was hoping they’d have picked so those are players I wish were on the team. Darian Jenkins, Catrina Atanda, Mandy Freeman, Erin Smith, Meghan Cox, Mimi Rangell, Rylee Baisden among them, but I think those ships have sailed. One experiment I hope they try is moving Christen Westphal to midfield. Really would love to see that. What’ll be really big, I think for the Breakers will be: How good with Natasha Dowie and Emilie Haavi be? For I see them getting a lot of playing time up front. And will the defensive line and the midfield line, with many, many new acquisitions, be able to develop a good working chemistry together. None, basically, have ever played together.

          • Reality

            Is this team roster accurate as far as you know?


            It would seem that with only 3 listed midfielders on this roster, they could use some help there. Westphal would be one possibility. Perhaps Leon also as she exhibited some good ball handling skills when at Chicago although I didn’t think she was good in her field awareness.

            Perhaps there are some players on the Boston Breakers Reserve Team Roster that Beard might want to bring up?


          • Steglitz49

            I like their site. It is easy to use. I like their “where are they now” feature.

          • Steglitz49

            I forgot to ask you: any news on who designed Margaret Purce’s dress?

          • Breakers fan

            I’d say it’s accurate save the inclusion of Engen. From what I hear she won’t be playing this year. But don’t forget to add in midfielders Lavelle, Andrews, forwards Purce and Onumonu, and Prudhomme, the USC goalkeeper. And maybe their last pick, Hayley Dowd, though my guess is that Dowd starts on the reserve team. There definitely exists that option of bringing up star reserve players from last year but I have no idea who that may be. A big roster and one would hope that someone or two stood out but other than Kylie Strom no other reserve teamer was called up last year.

            I could maybe also see moving rooke Midge Purce to midfield. My guess is that Beard foresees a starting midfield of Lavelle, Andrews, DaCosta and Salem. I think he has a pretty fierce loyalty to his ex-Liverpool players and players from last year whom he likes, and that they’ll be given every chance. If Westphal languishes largely on the bench again I won’t be happy.

          • Reality

            I’m looking forward to see how Lavelle and Andrews energize the team. The midfield is the engine room that drives the offense and Boston will definitely benefit from their presence.

          • Breakers fan

            Agreed. That tandem will be fun to watch. They’re a big part of what will bring me to the games, having lost 4 of my favorite players from last year.

            I would say into the void that if Onumonu and Purce outplay Dowie and Haavi in training or if one of the two does, start her or them – a soccer team is meant to be designed to give it its best chance of winning; it’s not an exercise in trying to get people 20 years your junior to like you or keep liking you as much as they used to by doing them “favors”.

          • Reality

            Did you see this article on Beard? He shares some of his philosophy as a coach.


          • Breakers fan

            I did, at the time, but it deserves a re-visiting, so thank you.

          • mockmook

            The Boston Univ website has Strom listed as a Mid — is that accurate?

            Also, apparently half the time, Ratcliffe started in the UVa midfield (as opposed to as a FW)

            And, I would say Elby played more of as a Mid type role last year than as a defender role.

          • Breakers fan

            Strom, I heard (I never saw them when she was there) played center mid at BU. I’ve heard her talk about how with the Breakers she’s having to learn a new position – defender.
            Ratcliffe, you’re right – played mid for the Breakers last year. I don’t really recall them playing her at forward last year. Maybe a little but I believe it was mostly at right mid. At UVA…the game I most clearly remember she was a right side/wing forward, not sure about her whole career there.
            Elby I saw as more of a defender for the Breakers last year. They tried her in Pathman’s spot for a while, but then moved Strom there. I see Elby as a bench player. I think she’s pretty good. Haven’t seen her enough to know how good. If she’s in I’ll feel ok. She does give her all. Someone that small at defender really needs to be tough, quick and skilled.

          • mockmook

            Thanks for the info!!!

            Yeah, I wasn’t commenting on the quality of the players at any particular position, but was just “inventorying” the BOS mids.

            BTW, my analysis — which is always right, BELIEVE ME, shows that Elby played several games in 2016 at RM in what was a 3-4-3/3-5-2 — though some really bad people would have called her a WB 😉

          • Steglitz49

            DaCosta will be away playing for Portugal in Euro-17.

          • Breakers fan

            That definitely does ring true now that I think about it – that at least on a couple occasions Elby was moved further up the field. Thanks for the correction!

          • mockmook
          • Steglitz49

            Mewis, please. There is an “s” on the end of her surname.

          • Breakers fan

            My fast response is: Thank you for this. I’ll take a look at the game and respond back!

          • Steglitz49

            I expect DaCosta to be playing for Portugal in Euro-17.

            This is the first time Portugal, like Sctoland, has qualified for a major international tournament. To think that one of the reasons that Portugal together with Sweden started the Algarve Cup was to stimulate interest in WoSo in Portugal!

          • Steglitz49

            Emelie Haavi is not listed as a current member of the Norwegian WNT, though they recently appointed a new head coach, the Swede who managed Linköping so well las season. I guess if Emelie plays out of her socks, she might be brought back into the fold.

            Natasha Dowie is harder to read but probably has even less chance of representing her country.

          • Steglitz49

            She played for Zurich but not that many matches but was a relatively prolific scorer. That may say more about the state of Swiss WoSo, though Sofia Jakobsson, who also plays on the wing, is the leading goalscorer in the French D1 and Sofi plays for Montpellier and neither Lyon nor PSG. Zurich did the Double last season an probably will again this year, in spite of Bern buying Baldwin.

          • guest

            Adriana Leon fast? hustling yes, but fast no so much.

          • Breakers fan

            Quite possible I’m wrong. It was the impression I had. How confident are you that she wouldn’t qualify as fast? How much have you seen her play, in other words?

          • Breakers fan

            Of course there are degrees of fast, degrees of quick, the latter perhaps more important in forwards. The only thing I really care about is “is she fast and/or quick enough to get by a good number of defenders in order to get decent shots off?” I don’t require her to be Allyson Felix.

          • Reality

            Leon is quick with her feet on the ball in getting around defenders, but as I said before, she doesn’t always demonstrate good judgement re: field awareness in passing or shooting.

          • Breakers fan

            Thanks. Here’s hoping that she’s improved in those areas.

          • Steglitz49

            Given the quality of college WoSo in the US, you can’t go wrong in a draft where only 40 are going to be picked.

            This because about 1700 ladies come off the NCAA assembly line each year. Thus, 40 is <3% of the total or the top 3 percentile or, above the 97th percentile if you prefer.

    • #1Fan

      its one scrimmage though. If opinions changed, then some teams did not do much scouting or were not really that committed to a player.

    • atalba

      That’s just ridiculous! These players have been seen by coaches for many years. You have no idea what you’re saying.

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  • Steglitz49

    Who designed Margaret Purce’s dress? Spill the beans or do the research!

  • FawcettFan

    My predictions:

    North Carolina
    Sky Blue

    Portland is too loaded to be denied (though in a one-off playoff game they can be beat, see 2016). I think FCKC will rebound with their star forwards returning and strong draftees. NCC has added to their already high-octane offense. And Houston will finally have a season free of internationals missing (save Daly). Their midfield and attackers are golden and defensively are better with veterans Bruna and van Wyk. I think they make their first playoff appearance.

    Sky Blue will be close, but are still a bit short on quality depth. Chicago once again has an extremely strong starting 11 but a subpar bench, unless they make a few signings between now and opening day. Boston certainly improved their lot but defense is still suspect especially if Engen leaves (passing over Freeman was truly stupid). Seattle has not rebuilt all they’ve lost. The core player exodus from Washington is tough to overcome. I’d like to see Orlando get better but they haven’t made any signings to improve from their expansion year. They added Driesse and lost Edwards, similar players except one is far more experienced. And Morgan is gone for half the season.

    • Steglitz49

      What are your predictions for Euro-17 and the Champions League? Feel free to throw iin the FA women’s Cup while you are at it. The more the merrier!

      • FawcettFan14

        Nah. I prefer to keep predictions relevant to the article.

    • I can’t see Houston being better than Chicago or Sky Blue at this point. They have holes and it feels like Waldrum doesn’t really know how they want to play. Chicago if pretty fine tuned with not much changing. Sky Blue certainly helped their 2017 case with this draft and reportedly Kerr is coming back.

      • I tend to agree. The Houston case is an interesting one to make, especially with the international signings, but we haven’t seen them put the pieces together yet. Chicago has proven they can work with what they have.

        Of course things can always change once the season gets going, but there’s strong potential for a 3-team race for the 4th playoff spot this season.

        • Houston is almost mind boggling how they have so much talent but aren’t able to put it together to be a great team. Looking at their roster from top to bottom, they have maybe a top 3 roster based on Internationals and high quality players. Which is why I am surprised Waldrum still has a job.

          • Steglitz49

            Anna Signeul is leaving Scotland after Euro-17 to take charge of Finland’s WNT. Too bad Houston could not grab Anna.

          • FawcettFan14

            Each season he’s had an excuse: 2014 they were an expansion team short on talent. In 2015 and 2016 his best players were absent for a good chunk of the year (you can argue a coach should pick players accordingly to minimize international impact).

            In 2017 he has no excuses. They must do better.

          • My counter argument for 15/16 would be that every team had their best players away, and Houston still had a lot of players who are “better” than other teams. But you’re right, this year really should be the test. They are fun to watch when playing well. 3-0 vs Chicago to open the season last year was quite an announcement of arrival, but they fell off quickly.

    • guest

      I really think Chicago has the strongest roster overall. When Press is on she is unbeatable and Naeher is the most consistent keeper in the league. Ohai, McDonald and Williams are highly overrated. Leroux and Rodriguez are wild cards at this point (if they come back for the season) but Cheney was the real MVP and glue of that KC team.

      • FawcettFan14

        Their starters are fantastic, probable lineup: Naeher; Gilliland, Johnston, Naughton/S. Johnson, Short; Proffitt, Colaprico, Huerta, DiBernardo, McCaffrey; Press.

        Subs: Dalton, S. Johnson/Naughton, Gorden, Comeau, Kaskie, Raetzman, Mautz, Vasconcelos, Walls, Green, Hoy

        If the starters stay healthy and can shoulder the burden, great. But if not, that bench doesn’t inspire confidence. I do like Vasconcelos as an impact player though.

        • Bruce

          I’d say the only place where I’d worry about the bench is at FB. Gorden is totally unproven of Short or Gilliland goes down.

          The rest of the roster is (IMHO) solid.

          Would not at all be surprised if Jen Hoy was traded before season start. She’s looked good in W-League and her stock will never be higher. There’s no way she’ll get to play centrally (where she’s most effective) on this team.

          Also, two or three of the following won’t be on roster at opening day: Kaskie, Mautz, Comeau, Raetzman.

          • I wouldn’t be sad to see Mautz go. But interesting thought re: Hoy. What caliber player could they get for her?

          • Bruce

            I think they could get a starting CB. Not anyone as good as Short or Gilliland but a defensive-minded security blanket.

            I haven’t put a lot of thought into it, but my first thought would be to look to SBFC. The are suddenly deep on the back line, and could use a CF. That Hoy studied at Princeton might make it a desired move on her behalf.

          • Bruce

            Also, Tasha Kai just had a second surgery on her foot making Sky Blue’s need for a target that much more urgent.

          • I actually really like it. Not sure who Sky Blue would give up – probably depends on if Rampone does indeed come back – which I think she is.

            Maybe someone like Grubka and a possible future draft pick? Although I like that they have her as a (kind of) backup. She was good in the starts she got towards the end of last year. But I think Hoy would benefit them more.

          • Bruce

            I was thinking Erin Simon.

            With the addition of McCaffrey and emergence of Cara Walls last year, Hoy’s playing time dwindled last season.

            CRS has last year’s pick Janelle Flaws (a bruising CF with nose for the goal) to call up for depth if needed. FWIW, she averaged almost 2 goals per game in the WPSL last year.

          • Hm from Sky Blue’s perspective, I’m not sure I’d be willing to give up Simon. I think she has a ton of promise and I like what we got out of her last year.

          • Bruce

            Neither one of the traits is out of the question and both sides could benefit. I would think that Kansas City might be another team willing to deal with CRS on those terms.

        • kernel_thai

          I think the attack has to be diversified for Chicago to succeed. Huerta is very streaky and McCaffrey hasnt put together a good month let alone a good season. Team can’t depend on Press always bailing them out.

          • Bruce

            If Vasconcelos can play effectively at LMF, this team will be a terror – even in a diamond 4.

            —- Vasconcelos ——— Huerta —–
            —————- Colaprico—————–

          • It seems as though Huerta is having a great season in Australia, I’m hoping that play continues to carry over to NWSL play. They need her to be scoring.

      • guest

        Williams (and Mcdonald) came through when their team needed it most last season. I have yet to see that kind of composure or heart from Press or her supporting cast.

        • ABCDE

          Don’t forget Sam Mewis… she owned Allie Long in that semifinal. Yet Allie Long is Jill’s new teacher’s pet…

    • guest

      Portland is overrated. Their offense is Tobin Heath at the moment, and the inconsistent Nadim and past her prime Sinclair.

      • FawcettFan14

        Why Rachel Hill and Savannah Jordan are good additions, even if Jordan doesn’t play this year. Young, fast, consistent finishers.

        • Steglitz49

          Why would Ms Jordan not play in Portland? She would be daft not to. She has an excellent chance of becoming a starter.

          • I agree, the fact that it was Portland who took her should be a game changer.

          • Steglitz49

            Verily. Thank you.

            Savannah played her hand to perfection to get her will through. At the same time, should some club offer her $20,000 per month, Savannah would be dumb not to take it. The reality is that she would be lucky to get $4,000 a month as an untested greenhorn.

      • Lorehead

        I would say they finished right where they were rated. It’s too bad they lost an extremely close single-elimination playoff to the eventual champions.

    • kernel_thai

      No way to know how quickly Nadim returns from her knee injury. So they either move Sinclair back on top or go very young.

    • smallchief

      On paper, I agree with you about Chicago talent — but last year Chicago’s offense — even with Press in the game — was not great. With essentially the same roster this year, we’ll see.

      My opinion of Sky Blue is the team has over-performed slightly since the league began — and that it will be a stretch for SB to make the playoffs.

      • GT

        Disagree. I think SB over-performed last year but under-performed in previous years. Unable to properly utilize and retain NT talent (i.e. Schmidt, DeVanna, Ocampo, Foord, Nadim etc.).

    • GT

      The final rosters have not been set. I think we’re going to see more retirements/trades/playing outside the NWSL etc. So I’m waiting till the dust settles before I make my predictions. (I’m usually wrong anyway.)

      • Steglitz49

        I expect that by now the players of quality going abroad have declared their hand. Maybe there is an odd one waiting in the wings but I doubt it.

        Given Portland’s problems Savannah has a great chance of being a starter in her first season. She would be dumb to play somewhere else.

      • It’s actually been said by Dan Lauletta that several NT players will be changing teams, but can’t announce until after the CBA is agreed to. It was probably a month ago that I read that, so maybe things have changed again, but I wouldn’t be surprised. They are, after all, not under contract with the teams themselves but US Soccer.

  • guest

    “[T]he safety of transgender fans”
    How can there be a safety issue if assault is already a crime?

    • “Safety” isn’t an issue of what is considered a crime, but in the likelihood (potential) that a crime could be committed.

      • mockmook

        I don’t think there is anything in HB2 that prevents the NWSL or any other private entity from having whatever bathroom policy they desire.

        • smallchief

          Wakemed stadium is owned by the city of Cary, NC — and HB2 applies to all public agencies, public schools, cities, and counties .

          Thus,HB2 would seem to apply in the stadium — if you have a governor who attempts to enforce it — but as of a few days ago you have a NC governor who won’t enforce it and has called for its repeal.

          It will be interesting to see, however, if the conservatives in the legislature try a new gambit. .

          • mockmook

            Does Wakemed have any unisex bathrooms?

          • smallchief

            I don’t know.

          • Steglitz49

            I thought H2B had broader ramifications and implications than the immediate Trojan horse that got it through the legislature.

          • guest

            What broader implications?

          • Steglitz49

            Ask Donald or failing him why not Mrs Biil. They are the experts. They must know.

          • guest

            I haven’t the foggiest what ur talking about.

          • Steglitz49

            Briefly, beyond the bathroom provisions, HB2 undermines the ability of local and state authorities to define and protect discrimination in other arenas as well.

            The law changes the way discrimination is defined and requires people to pursue such claims through federal, not state, courts. It also removes the ability of city and county officials to set minimum wage standards for private employers.

            Further, the law curtails employment rights and protections for gay and transgender people, meaning that people can be fired for their sexual orientation or identity.

          • guest

            As if you weren’t irritating enough, now you sound like a lawyer.
            “[R]equires people to pursue such claims through federal, not state, courts” Fine, there’s too many frivolous lawsuits anyway. You know the first thing they’re gonna do is sue.
            “[S]et minimum wage standards for private employers” Don’t really believe in the minimum wage anyway.
            “[P]eople can be fired for their sexual orientation or identity” People get fired all the time, I should know, and it’s usually because I’m an idiot, nothing to do with race or sexual identity.

          • guest2

            “Fine, there’s too many frivolous lawsuits anyway. You know the first thing they’re gonna do is sue.”

            Not fine. Discrimination law suits are not frivolous and it’s worth having to deal with some frivolous law suits in order to have the ability to protect individual liberties.

            “Don’t really believe in the minimum wage anyway.”

            I’d guess that most people who are affected by this don’t care that you don’t support a minimum wage.

            “People get fired all the time, I should know, and it’s usually because I’m an idiot, nothing to do with race or sexual identity.”

            Your response here is nonsensical and completely irrelevant. The clear implication by Steglitz49 is that it should not be okay to fire someone based on sexual orientation and you didn’t respond to that at all. The fact of the matter is that while people get fired all the time they can’t be fired for any reason.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you for your support.

          • guest

            It wouldn’t matter if they did because the LGBT community wants to make an example out of NC that nobody wants to follow, except maybe now Texas. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think separate bathrooms are a good idea and we should keep them, and that’s all these bills are attempting to do.

          • mockmook

            Well. part of the problem is that the situation isn’t limited to bathrooms, the worry is that locker-rooms have to be shared as well.

          • Lorehead

            Can you give me an example of someone important actually saying that self-identification alone, with no approval by medical or legal authorities, should be enough for that? The most the flaming liberals here have proposed is that it should require HRT.

          • guest

            As a practical matter, it’ll be very hard now to police the women’s room. We would have to sort who’s who, who looks like a man, who looks like a woman, and who’s on HRT (as per Guest’s comment below), etc. The current system is a lot easier. If you’re a man, or transitioning, use the men’s room. Safety issues are overblown, because, for the most part, especially in the big city, nobody cares. You would have to be in the bottom 1% of intelligence, and then be a total sociopath to act on it. As for men in the women’s locker room, even on HRT, that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

          • Lorehead

            Why do you think it’s either necessary to police the women’s room, or any easier to do so now? It’s obviously harder. With the law, the police are supposed to check everyone’s ID before they enter any bathroom. Without the law, they don’t have to check anybody’s. If you think it’s possible to skip that step, you don’t know enough trans people.

            First, there is no problem of men entering women’s restrooms to attack them, so the problem it’s purportedly trying to solve does not even exist. Second, the law does not make it any more difficult or any more illegal for a man to enter a bathroom to attack a woman. Third, it makes trans people’s lives harder in ways totally unrelated to any possible safety concern, mainly because its real purpose is to demean trans people. If the law is supposed to protect women, why does it apply to single-occupancy bathrooms with a lock on the door?

            It’s a bad law, passed on a transparent pretext. Nobody enforces it. None of the people who claim to believe it’s needed want it to be enforced, which would be strange if we took them seriously. Even the supporters of it here have basically come out and said, safety is just an excuse and it’s really about the culture war to them.

          • guest

            “[I]ts real purpose is to demean trans people” No, I believe the real purpose is to keep bathrooms separate, which up until now hasn’t been any problem at all. But now men’s rooms are considered a safety concern by the LGBT community. But if they have a safety concern about trans people in the men’s room, can’t there be a concern about men in the women’s room as well? Is there a safety concern or not?

          • Steglitz49

            It sounds like a storm in a teacup. It is first when you take all the other ramifications of the bill into account you see the full picture, as 2 days ago I expanded elsewhere.

          • Lorehead

            Let me try to rephrase this in a way that we both might agree with. A major purpose of the bill is to officially declare that trans women are men, not women. It puts criminal penalties on them for trying to live as women, in ways that have no possible rational basis in any concern for the safety of cis women. I bring up often that there is no possible rationale for banning someone from using a locked, single-occupancy bathroom other than a purity taboo. When supporters call the people they criminalized, “sex perverts,” that’s obviously demeaning.

            A little more than fifty years ago, bathrooms in North Carolina were segregated by race, and most white people in North Carolina wanted it to stay that way. If someone genuinely feels that they are in danger when a black person enters the bathroom, we can feel sympathy for their genuine distress, but the fact remains that there is no real danger and that officially declaring that there is infringes on personal liberty and promotes a nasty stereotype.

          • guest

            Wow, I asked a simple question about their safety concerns and he launches into a hate-filled tirade, all but calling me a bigot, and here I thought he was a reasonable guy you could have a civilized discussion with. Maybe not.

          • Lorehead

            You can either call someone else hate-filled, or you can get offended that it’s not politically correct to call you out, but please realize that you cannot have it both ways. The world doesn’t work like that.

            In any case, no, the purported concern about safety is not reasonable, nor even genuine. Perhaps, instead of getting defensive, you could respond to my specific criticisms of how many provisions of the law exist to inconvenience and insult trans people but have no possible relevance to any safety concern whatsoever.

          • guest

            The problem is that the LGBT argument is entirely premised on safety concerns, but if the other side brings up the safety issue, you call them hateful and bigoted. We can have a discussion about whether separate bathrooms are even necessary at all, but let’s not pretend that only the LGBT side can have safety concerns and the other side cannot.

            Please cite the “provisions of the law exist to inconvenience and insult trans people” because I didn’t see them.

          • Lorehead

            What I said was that you’re wrong and that there is no genuine safety concern. The kind of people who think they’re against something they call Political Correctness are turning into some real precious snowflakes.

            Anyway, there are a number of provisions in the law that bear no relation to this purported safety concern, such as inserting the word biological in front of sex in the state’s anti-discrimination policy and forbidding any cities from enacting a stronger one.

          • guest

            So the term “biological sex” is offensive? That’s what this is all about? And you’re calling me a snowflake?

          • Lorehead

            Rewriting all discrimination laws to say “biological sex” instead of “sex,” and forbidding any local government to pass its own anti-discrimination laws, has no purpose except to encourage and legalize discrimination against trans people. It’s worse than offensive: it’s directly causing people harm.

          • Steglitz49

            It is the ramification into other areas that is the core issue.

          • guest

            My interpretation is that they rewrote the law to make it more concrete, because “sex” can have different meanings. The intention of the law, as I’ve said, is to keep bathrooms separate. But is that discriminatory? I don’t think so.

          • Lorehead

            Then why does the law go far beyond that make job discrimination against trans people legal again in the cities of North Carolina? Not only is that excuse not true, it’s no real defense. The intention of the laws mandating white and colored bathrooms was to keep bathrooms separate. The only reason to demand that was false stereotypes.

          • guest

            If separate bathroom facilities is discrimination, then why not remove all barriers between the sexes and allow men to play in the NWSL?

          • Steglitz49

            Don’t stress it. S/he can’t cope.

          • Lorehead

            The dictionary definition of “discrimination” is treating people differently at all, so it turns out that nobody but the most radical utopian socialists are against all “discrimination.” Certainly not me.

            But, these days, we only use that word for things we think are bad. For the record, most opponents of the bathroom bill don’t want to outlaw separate bathrooms; they want to officially recognize trans women as women rather than men. If that’s a bridge too far, single-occupancy unisex bathrooms are a possible compromise that addresses concerns about personal safety and completely sidesteps the issue of who’s a man and who’s a woman. There’s going to be some kind of compromise, eventually, everyone can live with that doesn’t inconvenience anybody too much.

            I don’t think a unisex league system would be a good idea because the result would be that no women would get to play professional soccer, or get the respect and recognition the best female players do now. But, sure, if I were against separate accommodations for men and women in all cases, that’s the bullet I’d have to bite.

          • Lorehead

            Also, to repeat my original question: a lot of people say they’re against letting mere self-identification be the standard, but who on the other side is actually saying that?

          • Gary Diver

            Everybody should see the wonderful film “Hidden Figures”. I had no idea that there were segregated bathrooms at NASA facilities in Virginia during the early 1960s. The military was integrated after WWII, but 15 years later Southern conservatives were still enforcing segregation on federal facilities. Why do conservatives have a problem with treating all people, not just white straight people, with dignity. (It was probably illegal in the early 1960s for a white person to marriage a black person. And the funny thing is that conservatives always come up with lame excuses to defend their bigotry.)

      • guest

        But “feeling safe” is a subjective matter. I don’t feel safe walking downtown at night, so I take precautions. I would like everyone to feel safe, including LGBT people, but letting men use women’s bathrooms and lockerooms is just a step too far.

        • Guest

          Are trans man or women who have undergone hormone therapy still the gender of their birth? I’d argue that they are not. Are you confident you could even identify a trans person to enforce the law at all.

          • guest

            “Are women who have undergone hormone therapy still the gender of their birth?” The answer to this dilemma is simple: get the procedure done ASAP and go see a judge. Is there a minimum age to get the procedure

  • #1Fan

    Jordan to Glasgow …wow

    • DNG

      Don’t know the detail of her contract but it would seem that is not an optimal destination from a soccer sense

      • #1Fan

        certainly not the destination I imagined for her.