Book cover

Book Review: Raising Tomorrow’s Champions

Raising Tomorrow’s Champions: What the Women’s National Soccer Team Teaches Us About Grit, Authenticity, and Winning, by Joanna Lohman and Paul Tukey.

I went into this book without any great expectations for being personally entertained or enlightened. Not that I thought it was going to be a bad book, just that I figured its target audience was ambitious young female soccer players and their parents and mentors, and I don’t fit in there anywhere. But I was most pleasantly surprised.
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NWSL Draft – WoSo Independent Podcast #104 – Marching Onward

Chris (@chris_awk) and Jon (@jonlipsitz) are back from a long hiatus to discuss some of the latest happenings in the world of WoSo.

They discuss the USSF’s staggering meltdown in their battle with the USWNT. Then, there’s discussion about the USWNT’s SheBelieves Cup effort, as well as their thoughts on the three other teams participating in the competition. And finally, they touch upon some of the NWSL’s offseason activity since the end of the 2020 NWSL Draft.

NWSL – 2020 NWSL Draft – Fourth Round Review

A few notes:

*All advanced stats are from inStat. Not all matches this season were scored by inStat, explaining why some games are missing for some players.

*IMPACT ratings are calculated by myself via a proprietary formula using inStat data. The IMPACT rating is on a 0-5 scale that is not adjusted for strength of schedule. Thus, a 1.50 in a top conference like the Pac-12/ACC means much more than a 1.50 in a mid-major conference. Additionally, IMPACT ratings for attacking players generally tend to be higher. A 0.90 rating for a forward may be unimpressive for a early pick, whereas a 0.90 for a defender competing in a top league may be much more impressive.

28 – NC – Addisyn Merrick – D (CB) – Kansas

Stats of Note [25 match sample]

IMPACT rating – 0.46

76% pass completion (36 passes per 90’)
72% defensive challenges won (6 per 90’)
77% aerial duels won
72% tackles won
1.7 dribbles per 90’ (72% success)
11/4.9 – ball recovery/turnover ratio per 90’
9 interceptions per 90’
1.24 major mistakes per match

It might be a mild surprise to see North Carolina go back-to-back with center-backs late in the draft, but the Courage can afford such luxuries given the overall depth to their roster. Merrick likely slipped this far due to concerns about her size, standing at just 5’5” which is quite undersized for a typical professional level center-back. But her numbers defensively were more than solid, and she outpaced Miramontez in many categories, including having a massive advantage in tackles. It should be noted that Merrick more than held her own in the air, though she also didn’t win a ton of aerial duels. Unfortunately, her major mistake rate is as concerning as Miramontez’s, but Merrick likely has time to improve given Carolina’s existing strength in depth. Continue reading

NWSL – 2020 NWSL Draft – Third Round Review

A few notes:

*All advanced stats are from inStat. Not all matches this season were scored by inStat, explaining why some games are missing for some players.

*IMPACT ratings are calculated by myself via a proprietary formula using inStat data. The IMPACT rating is on a 0-5 scale that is not adjusted for strength of schedule. Thus, a 1.50 in a top conference like the Pac-12/ACC means much more than a 1.50 in a mid-major conference. Additionally, IMPACT ratings for attacking players generally tend to be higher. A 0.90 rating for a forward may be unimpressive for a early pick, whereas a 0.90 for a defender competing in a top league may be much more impressive.

19 – CHI – Zoe Morse – D (CB) – Virginia

Stats of Note [21 match sample]:

IMPACT rating – 0.90

89% pass completion (67 passes per 90’)
69% defensive challenges won (4.4 per 90’)
76% aerial duels won
66% tackles won
9/4.4 – ball recovery/turnover ratio per 90’
6 interceptions per 90’
0.86 major mistakes per match

Morse was probably a little bit higher than Phoebe McClernon on some teams’ boards, as she probably played a little better in 2019, but I though McClernon’s versatility gave her a slight edge on my board. But Morse was still one of the nation’s top defenders last season and represents more prime value at this spot. College soccer pass completion numbers can be goosed a bit sometimes by defenders being allowed to knock short passes around by teams standing off them, but it’s hard not to still be impressed by Morse’s numbers, even if you take them with a bit of a grain of salt.

There’s not much to pick through and be worried about with Morse. She posts strong raw defensive numbers across the board and has a strong recovery/turnover ratio while racking up interceptions. The only real knock is that Morse perhaps didn’t show much inclination towards the occasional key pass or dribble, she’s just a pure defensive center-back. But technically strong, battle tested center-backs don’t fall off of trees, and they also don’t slip this far in many cases, so Morse could be a steal at this spot. Continue reading

NWSL – 2020 NWSL Draft – Second Round Review

A few notes:

*All advanced stats are from inStat. Not all matches this season were scored by inStat, explaining why some games are missing for some players.

*IMPACT ratings are calculated by myself via a proprietary formula using inStat data. The IMPACT rating is on a 0-5 scale that is not adjusted for strength of schedule. Thus, a 1.50 in a top conference like the Pac-12/ACC means much more than a 1.50 in a mid-major conference. Additionally, IMPACT ratings for attacking players generally tend to be higher. A 0.90 rating for a forward may be unimpressive for a early pick, whereas a 0.90 for a defender competing in a top league may be much more impressive.

10 – ORL – Konya Plummer – D (CB) – UCF

Stats of Note [16 match sample]

IMPACT rating – 1.88

75% pass completion (37 passes per 90’)
81% defensive challenges won (6 per 90’)
84% aerial duels won
79% tackles won
2.1 dribbles per 90’ (84% successful)
12/7 – ball recovery/turnover ratio per 90’
9 interceptions per 90’
1.06 major mistakes per match

Orlando was never going to stop at just one defender given the depth of their defensive need as well as the amount of picks they had traded their way towards coming into and during Thursday’s draft. The Pride seemed to be set up very well to succeed given the fact that nobody took a center-back in the opening round of the draft, with their need at the heart of the defense very apparent to anyone that had seen the club play in 2019.

The Pride would end up shocking the room though, taking local product Konya Plummer with the tenth pick overall. The second and final international player taken in this draft class, Plummer has made waves at a young age by starting for and captaining the Jamaican WNT during their rapid rise, including at last year’s Women’s World Cup. Plummer’s stats for a decidedly middling UCF team last season stand out as a bright spot as well, as her d. challenge, tackle, interception, and aerial duel success rates are off the chart, even for a player playing in a mid-major conference like the AAC.

But there are also questions about the pick. Plummer’s pass completion % isn’t a complete disqualifier, but it’s far from ideal compared to some of the other center-backs coming from this class. The same could be said for her average amount of turnovers per 90’ played. The biggest worry on my end may not be from a pure numbers perspective though, as Plummer only has two seasons of NCAA DI experience, having transferred to UCF from the JUCO ranks. That may not be a long-term detriment, but it could mean that Plummer has a bit of a struggle to come in right away given the jump in talent level with the pro game. Fair or not, Plummer is going to be compared with the player that went one pick after her, Kaleigh Riehl, through the bulk of their NWSL careers. It may end up working out well for Orlando. But then again, it might not, and this pick, when considered in the context of the situation, could come back to haunt the Pride.
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NWSL – 2020 NWSL Draft – First Round Review

A few notes:

*All advanced stats are from inStat. Not all matches this season were scored by inStat, explaining why some games are missing for some players.

*IMPACT ratings are calculated by myself via a proprietary formula using inStat data. The IMPACT rating is on a 0-5 scale that is not adjusted for strength of schedule. Thus, a 1.50 in a top conference like the Pac-12/ACC means much more than a 1.50 in a mid-major conference. Additionally, IMPACT ratings for attacking players generally tend to be higher. A 0.90 rating for a forward may be unimpressive for a early pick, whereas a 0.90 for a defender competing in a top league may be much more impressive.

ROUND ONE

1 – POR – Sophia Smith – F (LF, CF, RF) – Stanford

Stats of Note [20 match sample]:

IMPACT rating – 2.40

16 goals on approximately 14 xG
38% conversion rate
2.1 chances created per 90’
73% pass completion (19 passes per 90’)
1.3 key passes completed per 90’ (49% completion)
29% cross completion
43% aerial duels won
7 dribbles per 90’ (54% success)
3.2/12 – ball recovery-turnover ratio per 90’

Smith was always going to be the #1 pick in this draft if she indeed declared (barring a surprise early entry from teammate Catarina Macario), and she seems to have landed in a great spot right away. The Thorns have suffered as of late without a real quality #9, and Smith has the potential to be that player in time. If that’s her destiny, it may take a little bit longer to gel into that role, as she was tasked with playing out wide for Stanford. If Mark Parsons sticks with three at the back for Portland this year, Smith almost has to play centrally, though Smith could play there or wide left (when Tobin Heath is away) or wide right if the Thorns go to four at the back.

I was a lower vote than most on Smith coming into this season, as I wanted to see her prove it consistently over a full season after being cut down with injury midway through her rookie year. Concerns seemed to grow a bit as she missed early games this year, but Smith grew into the year and peaked at a great time, with her marvelous display in the College Cup semi-final against UCLA a crowning achievement for her short collegiate tenure.

In terms of parsing the numbers, Smith looks good in most areas. Her conversion rate, while not the best in the NCAA, is pretty darn good, especially given the number of chances coming her way. Smith’s passing numbers also point her out as likely one of this class’ best in distribution amongst forwards along with Tziarra King. Add in the dribbling numbers, and Smith could be a player with true star potential. She’s not great in the air, though her 43% success is higher than some forwards in this class, while the same could be said about her recovery-turnover ratio.

Overall, an excellent (if easy) pick for Portland, and they’ll likely be confident she was worth the price paid in acquiring the #1 pick. Continue reading

NWSL – Chris & Jon’s 2020 NWSL Mock Draft

Round 1

1. POR – Sophia Smith – F (LF, CF, RF) – Stanford
2. SBFC – Ashley Sanchez – F (LF, CF) – UCLA
3. SBFC – Kaleigh Riehl – D (CB) – Penn State
4. CHI – Taylor Kornieck – MF (MC) – Colorado
5. CHI – Morgan Weaver – F (CF) – Washington State
6. NC – Ally Watt – F (CF) – Texas A&M
7. ORL – Kelcie Hedge – MF (DMC, MC, LM) – Santa Clara
8. URFC – Tziarra King – F (LF, CF) – NC State
9. RFC – Phoebe McClernon – D (RB, CB) – Virginia

Round 2

10. ORL – Evelyne Viens – F (CF) – South Florida
11. SBFC – Meaghan Nally – D (CB, RB, LB) – Georgetown
12. URFC – Courtney Petersen – D (LB) – Virginia
13. SBFC – Amanda Visco – D (CB) – Rutgers
14. ORL – Zoe Morse – D (CB) – Virginia
15. POR – Julia Bingham – D (LB), MF (LM) – USC
16. POR – Natalie Jacobs – F (CF, RF), D (CB) – USC
17. SBFC – Mandy McGlynn – GK – Virginia Tech
18. HOU – Aerial Chavarin – MF (DMC, MC) – Yale

Round 3

19 – ORL – Ella Stevens – MF (MC) – Duke
20 – SBFC – Camryn Biegalski – D (RB) – Wisconsin
21 – ORL – Bridgette Andrzejewski – D (RB, LWB), F (RF) – North Carolina
22 – HOU – Uchenna Kanu – F (LF, CF) – Southeastern University
23 – WSH – Stasia Mallin – D (RB) – Memphis
24 – CHI – Ricci Walkling – MF (DMC, MC) – NC State
25 – POR – Sinclaire Miramontez – D (CB) – Nebraska
26 – CHI – Konya Plummer – D (CB) – UCF
27 – NC – Abigail Kim – F (RF, CF) – Cal

Round 4

28 – NC – Shaelan Murison – F (LF, CF) – UC Santa Barbara
29 – SBFC – Taylor Aylmer – MF (MC, DMC) – Rutgers
30 – ORL – Kaiya McCullough – D (CB) – UCLA
31 – URFC – Natalie Winters – MF (DMC) – Iowa
32 – WSH – Ella Dederick – GK – Washington State
33 – RFC – Paula Germino-Watnick – F (LF), MF (AMC) – Georgetown
34 – POR – Cyera Hintzen – F (CF, LF) – Texas
35 – CHI – Kate del Fava – MF (MC) – Illinois State
36 – NC – Natalie Saddic – MF (DMC) – UC San Diego