The NWSL off-season is already in full swing even if no one knows for sure exactly how it will work. We already have a new coach, a new general manager, news from the Mexican federation, and the departure of one of the major cogs from the league’s championship squad.
The salient topic everyone wants to know about is allocation, but the truth is there just are no answers right now. The good news is that all eight teams are gearing up for 2014 as NWSL attempts to do what WPS never could – bring back its full membership for the following season.
Here is a quick look at the eight teams and how their off seasons may shape up.
Portland Thorns FC
DEVELOPMENTS SO FAR: Nikki Marshall started every match for the team but circumstances dictated the club waive her and she was grabbed by the Spirit. Also Tobin Heath is back at Paris Saint-Germain and could be there through the middle of the 2014 NWSL season.
NEEDS: Left back is open with Marshall’s departure but there is also potential for more issues in midfield. A healthy Becky Edwards will force Allie Long out of the traditional holding midfield spot. Long’s best soccer was played there after Edwards was out of the lineup. If Heath is not back that will create another hole in the middle.
Western New York Flash
DEVELOPMENTS SO FAR: Not much other than Ingrid Wells being waived.
NEEDS: The biggest area of development for the runners-up should be finding a forward who can play off Abby Wambach. Adriana’s good moments were too few and far between and she never seemed to find her stride after the Euros. The club could also use some defensive depth and flip some of its attacking depth to grab some on the trade market.
FC Kansas City
DEVELOPMENTS SO FAR: Erika Tymrak has been capped by the U.S. national team and joined Bayern Munich on loan. Bianca Henninger is also in Munich and Leigh Ann Robinson was also capped by the national team.
NEEDS: Forward. After the team traded Renae Cuellar, no forward scored until Melissa Henderson scored in the playoffs. Lauren Holiday was sensational for them, leading the league in goals and assists but can she duplicate a season during which she made so much happen better than 20 yards from the opposing keeper? A scoring forward will help out.
Sky Blue FC
DEVELOPMENTS SO FAR: Captain Christie Rampone underwent minor knee surgery but should be back to training in 4-6 weeks. Kelley O’Hara’s surgery was during the season and her recovery will far outlast Rampone’s. That said, she could be ready for pre-season. Lisa De Vanna is preparing to play the Australian season and this blog post makes it seem less than certain she’ll be back stateside.
NEEDS: Many of their worst games were going against teams that were able to beat them on the flanks. Adding an attacking midfielder who can thrive on the flanks should be a priority. They also lacked a proven finisher outside Monica Ocampo, who often came off the bench.
DEVELOPMENTS SO FAR: They named the coach to take the team into 2014. Tom Durkin, who helped out Cat Whitehill during August, was handed the full-time head coaching job last week. The club also parted ways with Jo Dragotta and transitioned Ashley Phillips from goalkeeper to goalkeeper coach. And just Tuesday they shipped Carmelina Moscato to Seattle in exchange for Kaylyn Kyle. Joanna Lohman and Lianne Sanderson went on loan to Apollon Limassol LFC in Cyprus. The team is in the UEFA Champions League Round of 32.
NEEDS: Outside back play was not good enough last season even as Jazmyne Avant stabilized things on the right side. Like so many other teams they could use some scoring depth. Sydney Leroux scored 11 goals and made the Best XI but the club had no other sustained scoring threat.
Chicago Red Stars
DEVELOPMENTS SO FAR: The club was already expecting Sonja Fuss and Inka Grings to return to Germany. Then came the news that Shannon Boxx is pregnant, clouding her immediate playing future. Not to be forgotten is the Red Stars are owed a subsidized U.S. player from the Reign. In speaking to both sides it does not appear the particulars of this transaction have been worked out yet. They need to be by month’s end.
NEEDS: They could use a healthy season from their core players, but also some improved technical play through midfield. Lori Chalupny was outstanding and they were good defensively, but an extra connecting piece would be beneficial. Fuss leaving opens up central defense but rehabbing Amy LePeilbet could fill that void.
Seattle Reign FC
DEVELOPMENTS SO FAR: Megan Rapinoe went back to Lyon and will miss the first part of the season again. Elli Reed and Jessica Fishlock have also landed off-season work. Tuesday the club moved Kaylyn Kyle to Boston and brought in Carmelina Moscato.
NEEDS: Kyle’s departure creates a void, but center back was going to be an area to upgrade anyway. They also need a tried-and-true goal scorer and a plan for dealing with the wilderness period before Rapinoe jumps in after the French season.
DEVELOPMENTS SO FAR: Added Nikki Marshall in the waiver draft and thus might be the only team safely able to claim they are better today than they were three weeks ago. But it remains to be seen if she’ll play. That worry was there before the waiver draft and confirmed by SoccerWire on Wednesday. Additionally, Lori Lindsey and Stephanie Ochs went to Caberra. That should specifically help Ochs, who did not have a strong season. Coach Mark Parsons replaced Chris Hummer as general manager.
NEEDS: Other than wherever Diana Matheson plays, the Spirit can use upgrades anywhere and everywhere. Marshall played left back for the Thorns but is better known for her work in the middle so she could be an anchoring piece in back.
— Marshall was the only player taken in the waiver draft. The other 10 are free agents although we already know Inka Grings and Sonja Fuss are not coming back to the U.S. The other eight are: Ashley Phillips (BOS), Jo Dragotta (BOS), Tiffany Cameron (KC), Kristina Larsen (SEA), Kristen Meier (SEA), Holly King (WAS), Lindsay Taylor (WAS), and Ingrid Wells (WNY).
— The Breakers acquired Kaylyn Kyle from the Reign for Carmelina Moscato and immediately declared Kyle will play in the midfield. She will add a physical presence there and can possibly help out on dead balls. As for Moscato, she played sparingly for the Red Stars before being dealt to Boston, where she played sparingly again. It looks like a step backwards for the Reign except that they won’t be paying Moscato so it can be looked at as buying themselves a little roster flexibility.
— Mark Parsons had the general manager title added to his role as head coach of the Washington Spirit. Parsons took over as coach for Mike Jorden at midseason and for Chris Hummer as general manager. Jorden was fired after a 1-7-3 start and Hummer resigned after the season.
— John Herdman has signed an extension to coach Canada through the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Herdman took over ahead of last summer’s Olympics and led Canada to the brink of the gold medal match before they eked out the bronze over France.
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