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Philly, Boston aiming for Mitts' services

Amy Rodriguez is now a member of the Philadelphia Independence, but Women’s Professional Soccer fans may not be done seeing Boston Breakers players make the trip down I-95 to Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, the Boston Breakers traded 2009 No. 1 draft pick and U.S. Women’s National Team forward Amy Rodriguez to the Philadelphia Independence.  Philadelphia also got Boston’s fifth-overall draft pick in the 2010 WPS General Draft in exchange for the second-overall and 11th-overall selections.

The news was arguably the first major trade in the young history of WPS, and Rodriguez is the first ‘big-name’ U.S. Women’s National Team player to swap teams.

A-Rod’s departure from Bean Town is huge news, but the relationship between Philadelphia and Boston may not be over just yet.

The league is set to announce which players are free agents around 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday, and the list should include some very recognizable names.

One of those is Boston Breakers defender and Philadelphia native Heather Mitts, whose expired contract puts her on the open market Wednesday.

Ever since Philadelphia was awarded a WPS franchise there has been speculation that Mitts might look to return to The City of Brotherly Love, and Independence Head Coach Paul Riley knows how much she could help the team – a team that could acquire two U.S. internationals in a short period of time.

“Heather Mitts in behind A-Rod would be a pretty good system,” Riley said.

Surely he knows how much Mitts could help the team both on and off the field.  Her recent play has come under some criticism, but she is still a defender of international quality and her marketing value is second to none in women’s sports.

Mitts played for the Philadelphia Charge in the old Women’s United Soccer Association from 2001-2003, but also gained attention off the field for appearances such as the one she made on the cover of Philadelphia Magazine in June of 2002 as one of the city’s top singles.

She is also under contract with Under Armour and makes regular appearances in the sportswear company’s advertisements, which is anything but common among female athletes.

Philadelphia General Manager Terry Foley, Riley and staff are aware of the total package that they would be getting with Mitts, and Riley said that they are all working hard to get her back to Philadelphia.

It was almost the perfect situation given that her fiancée, AJ Feeley, played quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles and the two would have been able to live in the same city instead of at a distance.  Instead, the writing on the wall was erased when the Eagles cut Feeley in early September and the Carolina Panthers picked him up a week later.

That certainly will play a factor in Mitts’ decision, but regardless of where she ends up, the Cincinnati native will still be far from her husband-to-be.

“[Feeley] just went to Carolina, so that throws a little kink in it, but they still have a house here and we think she wants to be here,” Riley said.

Boston is still working hard to bring Mitts back as well.

Breakers General Manager Andy Crossley said that the team is exploring several options to keep Mitts in Boston, along with free agent Brazilian forward Fabiana.

“Those are two players we are actively pursuing,” Crossley said.

Per league rules, the Breakers could not talk to any of their free agents during the month of September due to what he called a mandatory “quiet period.”

Mitts has not come out and talked about her whether or not she is leaning in a particular direction, but it might be tough for the Breakers to keep her.  She is a key marketing tool for Boston and could potentially be an even bigger one for Philadelphia, a city that she has praised in the past.  Either way, one team will be disappointed.

Also of note:

Riley also addressed the issue that Philadelphia still does not have a goalkeeper, something he calls “a big worry.”

He said that no goalkeepers at last weekend’s W-League Combine were of starting quality, so he will likely have to turn to the college ranks to fill that need.  On his radar is:

  • Ashlyn Harris, University of North Carolina
  • Alyssa Naeher, Penn State University
  • Jenny Bradfisch, Purdue University
  • Mallory Beck, West Virginia University
  • Erin Guthrie, Rutgers University

Riley will be at Thursday’s ACC showdown between Boston College and UNC.  With two NCAA National Championships and two W-League Championships (with the Pali Blues) under her belt, it is safe to believe that Harris is getting some serious looks.


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