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On the Clock: Sky Blue FC

Over the course of the next 10 days, The Equalizer will be previewing the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer Draft for each team.  Coaches and general managers will weigh in on what their individual team needs and wants are, providing insight into how the draft may play out.

There is no better place to start than in Central New Jersey, where defending WPS Champion Sky Blue FC has only gotten stronger in the off-season.

Sky Blue FC has brought in United States Women’s National Team midfielder Carli Lloyd and internationals Jessica Landström, Daphne Koster and Laura Kalmari.  The team also brought in defender Ashleigh Gunning, who played for W-League affiliate Hudson Valley Quickstrike Lady Blues in 2009.

On a team that has so many great international players that it will be forced to have some come off the bench, it may be tough to find an area that Sky Blue FC needs help in.

However, General Manager Gerry Marrone points out that Christie Rampone and Anita Asante, the team’s center back duo, will both miss the beginning of the season.  Rampone is currently pregnant with her second child and Asante is recovering from ACL surgery.  Both are expected back in mid-May.  That leads to one thought for 2010 WPS Draft plans.

“I’m thinking this year,” Marrone said.

Sky Blue FC posseses the No. 6 pick, but then does not select again until the No. 26.  That means Marrone and Head Coach Pauliina Miettinen will be looking to fill that defensive need with their first selection.

Marrone said the team will be looking for a versatile center back.  Top defensive prospect Whitney Engen will probably be gone by the time Sky Blue FC selects, and Ali Riley is an outside back.  That leaves Connecticut’s Brittany Taylor and Florida State’s Becky Edwards as possible choices, among several others.

After that need gets filled, the focus will be on developing younger players.

“What’s going to be most important is to fill the back end of the roster,” Marrone said.  “We have one roster slot and four developmental slots.”

The team will look to add depth through the back line and midfield with later round picks.

Attacking the Draft

Marrone said the team has a master list of its top 65 players – the same number of selections as the 2010 WPS Draft – and will cross off names as they are taken off the board.  That, along with positional lists, will help guide selections.

And the No. 6 selection could also be used as trade bait to find that defender Sky Blue FC is looking for.  You never know what could happen.

“The phone’s have been buzzing,” Marrone said.

This feature is the first of a ten part series titled “On the Clock,” which will feature a draft preview for each WPS team and culminate with a mock draft.  Check out the full WPS Draft order here.

Tomorrow: “On the Clock: Los Angeles Sol”

The 2010 WPS Draft will take place on Friday, January 15 at 10 a.m. in Philadelphia.  Look for live and exclusive coverage from The Equalizer.

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