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2011 WPS Draft: After Morgan, Farrelly and Press, it’s anyone’s guess

The 2011 WPS Draft will look a lot different than the 2010 installment.  For one, the draft is shorter.  It features just six teams and 24 total selections this time around.  The large draft room filled with energetic fans will be replaced with a closed-door Webcast version for fans to watch.

And of course, the depth of the draft is nowhere close to what it was last year.  With so few roster spots and a smaller crop of superstars, few people expect many rookies in this 2011 class to make major impacts.

“That’s what everybody thinks – that they are going to struggle,” said Atlanta Beat Head Coach James Galanis of upcoming draftees.  “But I’m not going to say it like that.  I think that I am trying to put together a team where anybody can compete for a spot.  I think it just becomes a case of development.”

Philadelphia Head Coach Paul Riley, whose team holds the No. 2 overall selection, admits that while there is a drop in talent, any player could prove to be a steal.

“I think everyone is hedging their bets on the first couple of picks will be easy, but the second and third rounds are going to be tricky, because there is really not a lot of depth to the draft,” Riley said.  “But you never know.  We got Estelle Johnson in the dispersal draft last year and she had a great season for us.  She was the last pick in the whole thing.  We didn’t know who she was.  We had the last pick and it was either take her or not get anybody so we said you know, what the hell.  And she played more games than Heather Mitts at right back for us.”

Riley holds not only the No. 2-overall selection, but also the fifth, ninth, 11th, 15th, 18th and 23rd selections.  He is looking for a midfielder and will almost certainly take University of Virginia superstar Sinead Farrelly, who registered 12 goals and seven assists in her senior campaign.

“I think for us, because we have so many picks, the draft is more important.  I think the midfield is going to have to come in straight away and do a job for us.  (Sinead) Farrelly is obviously the pick of the litter in the midfield area assuming [Western New York] will obviously go with Morgan.  And then it’s up to us with (Christen) Press or Farrelly and I think Press is going to be a great player.  We haven’t made a 100 percent decision yet but we are leaning towards picking the midfielder.”

With Western New York Head Coach Aaran Lines already proclaiming he will select United States international Alex Morgan with the No. 1 selection, that leaves, 2010 MAC Hermann Trophy winner Christen Press for Atlanta at No. 3.

“I’d be happy to pick up Christen if she is there,” Galanis said.  “Obviously a natural goal scorer and she’s got something that we are looking for.  If she is there, we are going to most likely take her.”

But after that top three, the rest is anybody’s guess.  The Washington Freedom (magicTalk SC) select at No. 4, but nobody even knows who will be there representing the team.  Word has of course gotten around that Mike Lyons will serve as head coach and Brianna Scurry as general manager, but the team has not officially announced that.  It is also yet to formally announce its new identity or any player signings, of which The Equalizer is told could include as many as 14 players already.

The bottom line is that somebody has to be at the draft representing the club on Friday, so that should shed light on at least some of the situation.  But honestly, who knows what Friday could bring?  An attempt to clarify the situation did not receive a response.

“There is no formal procedure or rule which stipulates that teams must assign or announce specific representatives for the draft in advance,” WPS spokesman Rob Penner said.  “Each team is allotted a certain number of places within the draft working area and they can fill them according to their needs and wishes.”

The 2011 WPS Draft will likely include some rather unknown players, but just how few players it will include is staggering.  There are 24 picks in this year’s draft and almost 900 women have declared themselves eligible for the 2011 WPS Draft.  That is less than a three percent chance of being drafted just among players who declared themselves for the draft.

Other notables entering draft day:

  • Riley said he has made two international signings that Philadelphia will announce sometime next week.   He could not speak further on the subject, but The Equalizer has learned that the two players are Spanish international midfielders Laura Del Rio and Veronica Boquete.
  • Expect Riley to take a top-notch center back with the No. 5 pick – either Lauren Barnes or Lauren Fowlkes.
  • Lines said he will be looking primarily for attacking players in the draft.
  • Boston College defender Hannah Cerrone, a top defender pick per WPS media, has not declared for the WPS Draft.
  • FSU midfielder Amanda DaCosta is being sought after by several teams.
  • Galanis acknowledged that there is a real possibility that Hope Solo may not sign a WPS contract until after the 2011 Women’s World Cup.  Atlanta has had discussions with Solo about re-signing her, but any team courting Solo may have to deal with that possibility.  Said Galanis:

“Yes there is and we’ve got to respect it – whatever it is that she decides – and there is a really strong possibility of that she’s going to train with her personal trainer and just worry about getting fit, going to the national team camps and going to the World Cup and maybe play after that somewhere.  I don’t know.”

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