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Waldrum says injured Roccaro too good to pass on

Cari Roccaro is one of several great center backs available in a draft extremely deep at the position. (Photo Copyright Steve Bruno for The Equalizer)

Cari Roccaro had hip surgery but Dash coach Randy Waldrum said she was too good to pass on at No. 5. (Photo Copyright Steve Bruno for The Equalizer)

The news began as a whisper earlier in the week and broke late Thursday when Hal Kaiser of keeernotes.com–later confirmed by The Equalizer–reported that Cari Roccaro is injured and will not be available for the start of the NWSL season.  The injury—surgery to repair a torn labrum in her hip—did not hurt Roccaro’s draft stock.  The Dash took her with the 5th pick on Friday, the first of their three first round picks.

“Even though we know she’s injured and she’s going to be out awhile she was just too good to pass on,” Dash coach Randy Waldrum said.  “For the long term, she’s going to be a great addition and we needed a player in the back.  In the long run that’s the kind of player we want to build our team around.

Waldrum said the estimates for Roccaro would have her on the field by June but said May is a possibility if rehab moves along at a quick pace.  She projects as a center back but at Notre Dame—where she first played for Waldrum—Roccaro was something of a jack-of-all-trades.  “She played everywhere.”

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On Roccaro’s rehab Waldrum said:  “Knowing her like I do, she’ll do all the right things and I would expect her to be back quicker than six months.”  He added that Roccaro played the 2015 college season on the torn labrum.

The Dash continued their first round by grabbing Rachel Daly at No. 6 and Janine Beckie at No. 8.  Beckie could wind up being allocated for the season by Canada but was born in Colorado and will not require an international roster spot.

“We drafted her to play up front but it always helps you to draft a player who can play multiple positions,” Waldrum said of Daly, noting that she played as a defender in the English youth system.  “We really picked her up to go up top.”

[MORE: Complete 2016 NWSL College Draft results]

On Wednesday the Dash traded Jessica McDonald to FC Kansas City (later traded to the Flash) in exchange for an international spot and the No. 8 pick.  It was a risk, Waldrum said, to send McDonald’s tenacity out of town, but believes Daly can replace some of it.

“(McDonald) in the box is a tenacious, tough player and if you can get the ball served in she’s not afraid to put her body on it.  And she was our leading scorer,” the coach said.  “Technically Rachel fits better the style we want to play.  Even though she’s a little bit shorter she has that same toughness.  A lot of the goals she scored she’s getting her body thrown in there on crosses.  Technically she’s very, very sound.”

Waldrum said the additions of Daly and Beckie will allow the Dash to mix up their style a bit as they pursue a maiden trip to the NWSL playoffs.  “The exciting thing about Beckie is with Canada they’ve been playing her underneath in a two-front with (Christine) Sinclair.  The good thing about that is it gives us an opportunity to play in a different way whether we want to play in a three front—and we can play in that three front in a lot of different ways.  We can play with more of a false nine or more with an out and out target.

“So it gives us option and that was really important to us.  You add that to Kealia (Ohai) and Chioma (Ubogagu) and we have more of a tandem up front which is what we’ve really lacked.”

After making three players among the first eight the Dash were out of selections.

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