The Breakers and FC Kansas City were trade partners earlier this offseason. The Breakers got Courtney Jones in exchange for a swap of 1st round picks. FCKC will now pick No. 4 and the Breakers No. 8 (after the Dash slot in at No. 5.) Here’s a look at how the two teams’ rosters are shaping up.
GK: Michelle Betos, Alyssa Naeher, Cecilia Santiago
OUTLOOK: No Breakers’ goalkeeper started more than 4 games in a row in 2013, a trend the club hopes will change next season. Naeher is plenty capable of carrying the load and Betos, while not a starter, should prove to be a capable backup. No one expects Mexico to send Santiago back.
D: Jazmyne Avant, Bianca D’Agostino, Julie King, Kia McNeill, Cat Whitehill, Rhian Wilkinson
OUTLOOK: McNeill and Whitehill were good in central defense last season but the outside back play was an issue. Bianca D’Agostino could help if she recovers from knee surgery. Kristie Mewis could help too but the Breakers’ site is listing her as a midfielder. Look for the club to target an outside back in the draft or other areas of acquisition.
M: Maddy Evans, Kaylyn Kyle, Kristie Mewis, Joanna Lohman, Heather O’Reilly
OUTLOOK: The prospect of Mewis and O’Reilly charging up and down opposite flanks should be enough to terrorize opposing defenses. Kyle is probably best suited to be a holding mid and Lohman has some versatility and can fit in well in most shapes.
F: Anisa Guajardo, Courtney Jones, Melissa Ortiz, Lianne Sanderson, Katie Schoepfer, Kyah Simon (out for season)
OUTLOOK: The club moved Sydney Leroux who was responsible to a large portion of their goal scoring so it will be a new look for them up top. Melissa Ortiz was signed to lead the way and Courtney Jones was acquired from Kansas City. Sanderson had an excellent season in 2013 but is more of a creator. Look for at least one more piece to be added.
OVERALL OUTLOOK: The 2013 Breakers were unable to consistently build off their back line and that hurt the midfield and the team’s ability to score. Having Naeher as the regular keeper from the get-go will be a help in getting continuity in back, but as presently constructed the Breakers appear at least a player or two away from the top four.
FC Kansas City
GK: Nicole Barnhart, Bianca Henninger
OUTLOOK: Barnhart was as good as any NWSL keeper last season and Henninger was a solid backup as a rookie. Unless they lose Henninger in the expansion draft this is not a position of concern in Kansas City.
D: Becky Sauerbrunn, Leigh Ann Robinson, Lauren Sesselmann, Nia Williams, Katie Kelly, Nikki Krzysik, Natalie Norris
OUTLOOK: An excellent group last season, but the club decided to move Mewis to acquire Amy Rodriguez and effectively replaced Mewis with Nikki Krzysik who did not play in NWSL last season. Williams and Kelly add depth to another solid unit.
M: Jen Buczkowski, Sinead Farrelly, Missy Geha, Merritt Mathias, Teresa Noyola, Desiree Scott, Erika Tymrak
OUTLOOK: Technically Lauren Holiday was a midfielder in the team’s formation (we’re going, when available, with team website designations) and she was tremendous in the role. But what makes this midfield roll is the combination of Buczkowski and Scott in defensive midfield. Mathias started the season on defense and then turned herself into a serviceable wide player. Noyola is not on the team’s official roster as they await word on Mexican allocations.
F: Liz Bogus, Jaime French, Melissa Henderson, Lauren Holiday, Amy Rodriguez
OUTLOOK: Rodriguez sat out 2013 to have a baby but the Blues saw fit to send Mewis to Seattle (since traded to Boston) to acquire her. All Rodriguez needs to do is finish—not always her strongest suit—and the forward unit will be much better than the one that did not score enough in 2013. Henderson should benefit from Rodriguez’s arrival although a return to the 4-5-1 will likely put her back on the bench. Bogus also adds depth and always brings energy off the bench.
OVERALL OUTLOOK: With two weeks to play last season just about anyone would have agreed that FC Kansas City were the best team in NWSL. They systematically broke down after that, tossing away late results that cost them playoff seeding and then a trip to the final. On personnel they should be right there again, but they will be an adjustment to the mentality of closing out games.
UP NEXT: Sky Blue, Red Stars