NWSL – 2017 NWSL Draft – Round Four Analysis

Round Four Analysis

31 – BOS – Sammy Jo Prudhomme – GK – USC

Stock went up in a big way after senior season helping lead USC to a national title. Question the fit a bit considering Breakers need defenders and have taken zero, but they also needed an upgrade in goal for a backup at the very least. They may be hedging against Abby Smith’s injury recovery suffering complications. Probably not going to be more than a backup at this level, but still probably better than what they’ve had.

32 – ORL – Nickolette Driesse – MF – Penn State

Driesse should’ve really gone a round or two earlier and is a great value at this spot. Played deeper role with Florida State before transferring in and playing a more attacking role with PSU. With Becky Edwards gone, is she playing a deeper role in pros? Orlando were really going big for a central midfielder and got the best one still on the board probably a few rounds after she should have gone. Great pick.

33 – HOU – Erin Smith – D – Rutgers

Another from the conveyor belt of defenders from Rutgers and a great value. Can play centrally or wide but might grade out as a right-back at the next level. Extremely attacking player roaming the flanks and should have a great mentor in Poliana. Versatility a huge asset this late and fills need. Excellent late pick.

34 – SBFC – McKenzie Meehan – F – Boston College

A few years ago, nobody would’ve believed you if you thought Meehan would fall this far, and she’ll probably have a massive chip on her shoulder being taken this low. Does she play centrally or wide at next level? Some might worry if she’s plateaued already given downturn in form past year or so, but pressure likely won’t be on early being picked this low. Continue reading

NWSL – 2017 NWSL Draft – Round Three Analysis

Round Three Analysis

21 – POR – Tyler Lussi – F – Princeton

Third forward in the draft, though only #2 if you don’t feel Jordan is coming to Portland immediately. Lussi wasn’t a particularly highly ranked player on the Four Factors metric, and she didn’t do a ton against more highly regarded opposition, though some of that might be scheduling. I’m not sure how she’s not going to be buried on the depth chart here though.

22 – ORL – Danica Evans – F – Colorado

Thought the Pride were going to fill another need, but they need goals with Morgan gone for a few months (at least). Evans has ripped up opponents in Summer leagues but was inconsistent at college level at Portland for two years and at Colorado before her senior season. Probably a little bit of a reach though, even with upside.

23 – SBFC – Kailen Sheridan – GK – Clemson

Sky Blue needed an upgrade at keeper, and Sheridan, ideally, is the long-term solution at the position. In contention now for Canada at full international level, Sheridan has been a big part of Clemson’s revitalized defense for four seasons. Undeniably talented, but when the wheels come off, it’s ugly. Fills need, but I’d be more comfortable if she was learning from a steadier veteran hand.

24 – SBFC – Madison Tiernan – F – Rutgers

Club should be familiar with Tiernan given the Rutgers connection. Has had an up and down college career but had a great senior season for the Scarlet Knights. An absolute gunner who takes a ton of shots, sometimes to her detriment. Not going to be a star at next level but could be decent depth, though she probably would’ve been available late. Continue reading

NWSL – 2017 NWSL Draft – Round Two Analysis

Round Two Analysis

11 – CHI – Michele Vasconcelos – F/MF – BYU

I’m not sure how much more forward power Chicago needs, but Vasconcelos is the type of player that can fill multiple roles in an attack. She finished on top of my Four Factors rankings for the 2016 college season and was ridiculously efficient. Definitely a player that thrives around other top attacking talent, which could mean big things in Chicago, as long as Dames finds the proper role for her.

12 – CHI – Morgan Proffitt – MF, D – Marquette

Steady performer at both center-back and in defensive midfield. Big question is where she plays as a pro, though she certainly has size to play in central defense. Biggest worry from what I’ve heard is pace at the next level, though Dames has been good in past at getting most out of collegiate players with certain flaws. Probably an overachiever here, but I think this is a round too soon.

13 – FCKC – Toni Payne – F – Duke

It’s not the most natural fit for a possession oriented team, but Payne might be coming here to add a much needed different dimension to the attack that might need some pace with the aging Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux on center stage. I think Payne’s going to be more of a counter-attack player off the bench to begin, and there are questions over her production. Still think this works out for FCKC though.

14 – POR – Rachel Hill – F – UConn

Defense is probably a more pressing need, but Hill’s first-round value in the middle of the second round. She’s another burner but has been unbelievably consistent through four seasons, which says a lot at a big conference school. The big question is where she fits in right away with a stacked forward corps. Likely as a super sub to begin with. Continue reading

NWSL – 2017 NWSL Draft – Round One Analysis

Round One Analysis:

1 – BOS – Rose Lavelle – MF – Wisconsin

There was probably a little doubt as some thought Lavelle might get passed over for Morgan Andrews, but Lavelle is the better pick for a team trying to build from virtually rock bottom. Her small offensive stats are pretty deceiving, as she played without a semblance of an offense with the Badgers and should be much more involved offensively for Boston going forward. She’s going to be the centerpiece of the midfield with the trade of Kristie Mewis and should be a solid building block for the present and future for the Breakers. This was the right pick and a much needed one for Boston.

2 – NC – Ashley Hatch – F – BYU

Hatch had a breakout senior season that earned her a call-up to the full USWNT mid-season. She’s a domineering, quick forward that is a bull going forward and packs the type of power and speed that Paul Riley likes in forwards. The big question is fit? Where does Hatch fit in with a lineup that’s likely to boast Jessica McDonald and Lynn Williams, along with Debinha and Rosana? It’ll be interesting to see how she’s integrated into the offense, but this pick could work wonders in the long-term.

3 – BOS – Morgan Andrews – MF – USC

Everyone figured Andrews would end up in Boston, though I figured they might have tried to wait and see if she slipped, but I suspect that they felt that Andrews wouldn’t last until their later picks in the first round. She desperately needed her senior season showing, where she helped lead USC to their second national title. Major question hanging over her is her pace at the next level. A much better pick at #3 than #1 though. How will Boston integrate a pair of rookie midfielders into their starting lineup?

4 – SBFC – Kayla Mills – D – USC

Fills a huge need for athleticism at full-back, where Mills will likely play on the left. She played a defensive midfield role as a senior, but it’s hard envisioning her there as a pro thanks to her blazing pace down the flanks. She’s still a little raw, but her potential is undeniable, as she’s got the upside to eventually be one of the very best players from this draft. SBFC drafted very well last year and are on their way to another nice draft with this first pick.
Continue reading

NWSL – 2017 NWSL Draft – Chris’ Big Board #76 to 135 (A Mini-Update)

Two players who would’ve been in my Top 75 were added to the draft list after I had posted the three parts of my Big Board. I didn’t have time to write profiles for them, but they are:

#25 – Kaleigh Kurtz – D (CB) – South Carolina
#66 – Sydney Miramontez – D (CB) – Nebraska

…And the Rest:

76. Lauren Kaskie – MF – UCLA
77. Gabby Byorth – D – Clemson
78. Darcy McFarlane – MF – North Carolina
79. Kaleigh Olmsted – F – Notre Dame
80. Leah Mattingly – D – Ball State
81. Jessica Brooksby – F – Utah State
82. Meghan Cox – D – Virginia
83. Caroline Flynn – MF – Nebraska
84. Holly Van Noord – GK – Liberty
85. Tara Sobierjaski – D – Siena
86. Mackenzie Cowley – F – George Washington
87. April Cronin – F – Valparaiso
88. Aleah Davis – MF – UTEP
89. Julie Vass – MF/D – Santa Clara
90. Eliza Van de Kerkhove – MF – Central Michigan
91. Hope Sabadash – GK – Southeastern Louisiana
92. Amy Yang – MF – North Dakota State
93. Taylor Borman – MF – Samford
94. Jordyn Listro – D/MF – South Florida
95. Hanna Kallmaier – MF – Kansas
96. Kaela Little – GK – Notre Dame
97. Krystina Iordanou – D – Virginia
98. Danielle Rice – GK – Texas A&M
99. Lauren Watson – GK – Texas Tech
100. Maryse-Bard Martel – GK – Memphis
101. Marion Crowder – F – Georgia
102. Anna Buhigas – GK – Lipscomb
103. Nicole Bates – D – Fordham
104. Tayler Estrada – MF – Kansas
105. Jessica Ratner – GK – Bucknell
106. Sydney Drinkwater – GK – Florida Atlantic
107. Rylee Baisden – F – Pepperdine
108. Ally Doyle – D – Fordham
109. Morgan Stearns – GK – Virginia
110. Kristyn Shea – GK – Providence
111. Sydney Arnold – MF – Marshall
112. Natasha Minor – F – Southeast Missouri State
113. Hannah Leinert – F – Purdue
114. Erica Murphy – F – Rutgers
115. Bronwyn Boswell – MF – Evansville
116. Storm Kenui – MF – Hawaii
117. Kathryn Sloan – F – Louisiana Tech
118. Amber Adams – F – Coastal Carolina
119. Mimi Akaogi – D – Long Beach State
120. Kelli Hubly – F – DePaul
121. Kelsey Perrell – MF – High Point
122. Katie O’Neill – MF – Charlotte
123. Emily Byorth – D – Clemson
124. Rachel Leonard – D – Sacramento State
125. Kavita Battan – F – Idaho
126. Lana Spitler – F – East Carolina
127. Brittany Ambrose – F – Santa Clara
128. Tahlor Lyman – MF – Oral Roberts
129. Aaliyah Lewis – F – Alabama State
130. Emily Richardson – D – Evansville
131. Alice Palmer – MF – Oakland
132. Jennifer Lum – MF – Sacramento State
133. Brittney Reed – D – Kennesaw State
134. Brittney Lawrence – F – Oral Roberts
135. Jenny Bitzer – D – Manhattan

NWSL – 2017 NWSL Draft – Chris’ Basic Mock Draft

Other content to come, but here’s a basic four-rounder for your perusal. I think there may be a trade or two to come…

Round One

1 – BOS – Rose Lavelle – MF – Wisconsin
2 – NC – Christina Gibbons – D/MF – Duke
3 – BOS – Mandy Freeman – D – USC
4 – SBFC – Kayla Mills – D – USC
5 – FCKC – Alexis Shaffer – MF – Virginia
6 – SEA – Ashley Hatch – F – BYU
7 – NC – Rachel Hill – F – UConn
8 – BOS – Savannah Jordan – F – Florida
9 – BOS – Morgan Andrews – MF – USC
10 – SBFC – Jane Campbell – GK – Stanford Continue reading

2017 NWSL Draft – Team Needs (Part Two)

Orlando Pride

Picks – 22, 32

Signed (16)

GK – Harris

DEF – Alleway, Berryhill, Camila, Levin, Monica, Krieger

MF – Edmonds, Kyle, Weatherholt, Witteman

FW – Belanger, Burkenroad, De Vanna, Hagen, Morgan

Unsigned

GK – Bledsoe

DEF – Catley, Pressley

MF – Evans

FW – Fields, Spencer

Two things are quite noticeable when trying to analyze the Pride for the forthcoming draft. One, they’ve still got a handful of players out of contract, which complicates trying to figure out which direction the club’s going to go. And secondly, Orlando’s first pick is in round #3, which definitely lengthens the odds of finding a true contributor right off the bat, even in a class like this.

Ashlyn Harris should return as the club’s #1 in goal, but the backup situation isn’t settled as of right now, with Aubrey Bledsoe out of contract and coming off a serious injury. Last year’s third choice, Kaitlyn Savage doesn’t return, so the club might be looking for another option with their second pick, though there are plenty of other holes to fill on paper.

On the backline, the Pride made a big splash in acquiring Ali Krieger, which should ensure that the right-back slot is filled for the foreseeable future. A much bigger question at the moment is who takes on the left-back slot if the out of contract Steph Catley does not return. Cami Levin is an option, but the Pride may want to consider another left-back for depth at the very least with one of their two picks, though new signing Camila can fill either full-back role if needed. Centrally, the club would appear to be set with the retuning Monica and Laura Alleway, but depth is pretty much non-existent, with Toni Pressley out of contract and the only other option really on paper second-year player McKenzie Berryhill.

The loss of Becky Edwards to retirement leaves a pretty sizable gap in the center of midfield that will need to be filled. Kaylyn Kyle and Kristen Edmonds are two prime contenders to fill some of the midfield starting spots, the latter especially after a breakthrough campaign in 2016. Most of the other options on the roster that could fill the vacant spot from Edwards’ retirement are still pretty raw, meaning the Pride may look to use one of their two picks to add some competition at the very least.

The frontline is obviously a concern as well, as you wonder where the goals are going to come from until Alex Morgan returns. Having Jasmyne Spencer out of contract at the moment doesn’t exactly help matters either. Getting Lisa De Vanna for a full season could work out well if she’s on form, but that’s far from a guarantee. Otherwise, it may be up to hoping that the likes of Edmonds, Josee Belanger, and Sarah Hagen can knock them in. Adding some additional depth wouldn’t hurt, but there are other positions of need.

Biggest Needs: CM, LB (if Catley doesn’t return), CB depth, GK depth (if Bledsoe doesn’t return), FW depth Continue reading

2017 NWSL Draft – Team Needs (Part One)

Boston Breakers

Picks – 1, 3, 8, 9, 11, 31, 38

Signed (16)

GK – Smith, Stout

DEF – Elby, Strom, Westphal, Oyster, Chapman, King

MF – Ratcliffe, Salem, DaCosta, White, Verdoia

FW – Dowie, Simon, Haavi

Unsigned

DEF – Engen

The Breakers have seven picks overall, including five of the first eleven, and they’re going to need them to pan out considering the state of the roster. Boston finished dead last in goals scored and goals allowed, with the defense seventeen goals worse than the next leakiest defense. Manager Matt Beard has engaged in a clearout in the offseason while also trying to bring in some international talent to fortify the ranks, but the draft is a clear focus for the club in restocking the reserves of talent in Boston.

In goal, Abby Smith is the presumptive #1 after impressing in brief action last season before a serious injury ended her rookie season. Smith’s health is obviously going to dictate Boston’s course of action, but it’s difficult envisioning them spending one of their earlier picks on a netminder given the holes elsewhere. Libby Stout is the likely backup and saw extended minutes here last season, but the Breakers can probably do better and may choose to use one of their final picks on some competition for the backup spot.

Defense has to be a clear priority after the horror show on the backline last year. With Mollie Pathman retired and Kassey Kallman shipped to Washington, the rebuilding effort’s already well under way, though the talent on hand doesn’t exactly foster confidence at first glance. Megan Oyster arrived in the trade with Kallman and is likely being looked at to start at center-back after falling out of favor in D.C. in her second season. Who partners her is a good question, with veteran Julie King a likely option right now. Whitney Engen would obviously slide into that second center-back spot if she re-signs here, which certainly is not guaranteed right now. It would be a surprise if the Breakers don’t use one of their early picks on a central defender.

If the club does get Engen back, King likely starts at right-back with newly acquired Allysha Chapman the likely starter at left-back. Depth here isn’t great though, so the Breakers might need to reach a bit to bring in someone that can compete for minutes on the flanks.

Boston will likely be looking to use it’s top pick on an attacking midfielder after Kristie Mewis was sent to the Spirit via trade in the offseason. The team is missing a noted attacking spark in the center of the park, even after the additions of Amanda Da Costa and Rosie White. Again, depth is an issue here, even if Angela Salem starts against as a defensive midfielder.

The Breakers look to be set at forward. Natasha Dowie looked an inspired signing upon joining the team last season, while Kyah Simon should also push for starting minutes despite being goal shy in 2016 for the club. Big things are expected of new recruit Emilie Haavi out of Norway, though how many games Beard gets out of her this season with UEFA EURO 2017 pending is a question. It doesn’t seem too likely Boston spends a first-rounder on a forward though.

Biggest Needs: AM, CB (especially if Engen doesn’t re-sign), general depth everywhere, backup GK competition Continue reading

NWSL – 2017 NWSL Draft – Chris’ Big Board #51 to 75

51. Madison Tiernan – F (CF), MF (AMC) – Rutgers

What I Said Before 2016:

A bit of a mixed bag as a prospect, as Tiernan’s never really developed into a top level forward after some promising performances as a rookie for the Scarlet Knights. Tiernan was already one of the AAC’s top attackers as a rookie before Rutgers moved into the Big Ten, scoring six goals for the club and then repeating the feat a season later, setting up hopes for a junior season that would help her club to bigger and better things. The Scarlet Knights got there, of course, but few could probably argue that Tiernan had a big hand in it after slumping to a mystifying two goals on a whopping sixty-three shots. She’ll probably get a look, as inevitably all Rutgers players do with Sky Blue FC in close proximity, but a big rebound season as a senior may be necessary for Tiernan to move back up the board.

Anything New?

Well, Tiernan kept shooting in 2016, but this time, she actually put up some tangible results, netting a career high eleven goals while also assisting on six goals, also a career best. Tiernan’s efficiency continues to be a serious issue, with the Rutgers forward needing nine shots per goal while putting less than 50% of her efforts on frame. But when Tiernan did find the back of the net, she did it against some big time opposition, including UConn, Georgetown, and Penn State. This is a crowded class of forwards though, meaning Tiernan may need to make it through the camp invite route.

52. Tabby Tindell – F – Florida Gulf Coast

What I Said Before 2016:

Florida Gulf Coast’s been formidable for a while in DI, but they’ve only truly hit a new level since the rise of Tindell, who has been a scoring terror for the Eagles the past three seasons. Fifteen goals as a freshman was a marvelous debut for Tindell, and she’s promptly followed it up with thirty-seven combined goals in the two following seasons, including seventeen last year to go with ten assists. Tindell’s proven to be solid efficiency-wise, with five shots per non-penalty goal last season while putting an absurd 67.5% of shots on frame. The big question is if the Eagles forward can do it consistently against top level teams. The evidence from last year doesn’t exactly speak in her favor.  It could potentially be a case of needing to flourish in an environment surrounded by pro level players, but if Tindell can’t find her scoring touch against top teams as a senior, she might not make it above late-round flyer status.

Anything New?

Tindell’s goal total dipped slightly to fourteen as a senior, but she was still the class of the field in the A-Sun and at one point scored in ten straight matches in the middle of the season. But she struggled down the stretch, with just one goal in FGCU’s final five matches and was held without a shot on goal in the finale against Florida. Tindell did a little better against bigger opposition than in past seasons, but she didn’t have the huge performance against a top team that would’ve put her name in lights. In a very tough class, Tindell’s going to be a late round find or hopeful camp invitee.

53. Emily Armstrong – GK – UConn

What I Said Before 2016:

Armstrong might be the one who got away for Boston College, who had the keeper on their books in 2012 but did not use her, with the netminder transferring to regional rival UConn right after that season and has been a revelation in goal for the Huskies ever since. Armstrong really had a star turn in the 2014 AAC Tournament, where she was a rock in goal, helping the Huskies to silverware with a strong display in goal in the competition. She didn’t look back as a junior, winning league Goalkeeper of the Year honors after another fantastic season between the pipes for the Huskies. Usually working with a very secure set of hands, Armstrong is still capable of making acrobatic saves and has a rocket for a leg, especially on punts. The Husky keeper still could get a bit better in the air for someone her size, but the upside is definitely there.

Anything New?

Armstrong excelled again on a UConn side that just overpowered almost all of its league rivals, but the lack of a deep NCAA Tournament run could stifle her profile a bit heading into the draft. When I saw her live against Cincinnati, Armstrong seemed to struggle a bit in traffic, which adds to the concerns in the air stated above. Still, Armstrong’s an A-level shot stopper that isn’t afraid to play on the edge. She’s not an elite prospect, but Armstrong is probably worth a long look at the very least. Continue reading

NWSL – 2017 NWSL Draft – Chris’ Big Board #27 to 50

27. Josee Stiever – MF – Minnesota

What I Said Before 2016:

A big part of Minnesota’s midfield over the past three seasons, Stiever’s been a little bit overlooked nationally but could be bound for a big 2016 for the Golden Gophers. Stiever really began to show what she was capable of as a sophomore in 2014, tallying up five goals and five assists for Minnesota, including some big contributions in league play in the Big Ten. Stiever’s numbers would dip a little bit as a junior but only slightly, with the midfielder still managing four goals and four assists on the season, again doing much of her damage on the stat sheet in league play for Minnesota. Minnesota could surprise a few teams in the Big Ten this upcoming season given some of the talent they have coming back, and Stiever could be a big part of that run.

Anything New?

Stiever sealed her rep as a Big Ten team killer this season, including assisting in all three wins en route to Minnesota doing the double by sealing a Big Ten Tournament title on home soil. She doubled up on 2015’s production, finishing with eight goals and ten assists in a very impressive season to close out her college career. As one of this class’ late risers, Stiever could be a canny pick in the second half of the draft for someone.

28. Mimi Rangel – MF – Long Beach State

What I Said Before 2016:

The Beach have been one of the west’s top mid-majors for a while now, and players like Rangel have been big contributors to that success. Making an immediate impression as a rookie with five goals and four assists, Rangel was the Big West Freshman of the Year and earned all-league First Team honors, a rarity for freshmen in power mid-majors. While Rangel hasn’t busted out and become a superstar as some might have expected, she’s still be a very good player for the 49ers and has helped make them a constant threat for Big West silverware. Rangel followed up her rookie year with a three goal, six assist season that earned her Midfielder of the Year honors in the league which set the table for a potentially big 2015. Rangel slipped a bit though, with her goal total dipping to just two, with one of those coming from the spot, while notching five assists. Rangel still has a chance of being the rare player to win All-League first team honors all four seasons of her collegiate career, though her ceiling might be a bit lower than expected after her brilliant rookie season. She’s a bit undersized at 5’2”, but she’ll be battle tested coming into the next level with LBSU having played tough schedules all throughout her four years there.

Anything New?

Rangel finished her LBSU career with a flourish, taking home a second Midfielder of the Year honor for the Big West and becoming just the third player in conference history to be named All-League First Team four times. Rangel didn’t achieve any huge breakthrough on the stat sheet, instead staying pretty consistent with four goals and five assists. The size concerns still linger, but NWSL clubs could do far worse than Rangel if looking for a late round sleeper.

29. Hannah Seabert – GK – Pepperdine

What I Said Before 2016:

Seabert was a bit of a surprise in excelling coming out of high school, as she was far from the most highly touted keeper in this class entering college but has proven to be quite the find for Tim Ward and co. The Riverside native was an immediate factor in Malibu though, starting as a rookie in every match and being kept very busy by a sometimes porous backline. It wouldn’t be until 2014 that Seabert really began to show her potential though, as the Waves’ netminder grew into one of the region’s best keepers. Stock probably dipped a bit after Pepperdine’s dismal 2015 season, but that likely had more to do with a misfiring offense than Seabert’s play. Not the smoothest keeper mechanically, so needs good coaching at the next level, but still has potential.

Anything New?

Seabert remains a top goalkeeping prospect in this class after the Waves bounced right back up the table, with the Pepperdine netminder doing her fair share throughout the season. Her flaws are still there, meaning she’s probably more of a developmental goalkeeper than immediate savior, but Seabert stands out amongst the many talented keepers in this class with her size, athletic ability, and shot-stopping prowess.

30. Lindsey Harris – GK – North Carolina

New Profile!

Harris has rocketed from just another member of UNC’s traditional goalkeeping rotation to one of the nation’s best goalkeepers in impressive fashion after some eye-popping displays in 2016 as a senior. Buried on the depth chart for two seasons with the Heels, Harris would first really got a shot in 2014 as she rotated with Bryane Heaberlin for the next two seasons but saw her profile and performances rise to the point that she was the undisputed #1 in Chapel Hill for her final year of eligibility. Harris’ outstanding play against top-flight opposition was a major reason the Heels advanced to another College Cup, as she was under fire from some of the nation’s top attacks on a consistent basis. A brilliant shot-stopper with an ability to make near impossible reflex saves, Harris also plays with a bigger presence than 5’7” frame indicates on paper. Worries? Other than the size, the lack of a ton of experience and minutes is a very slight separator for Harris and the elite in this class. She’s played the equivalent of just two seasons collegiately for the Heels in terms of minutes, but that also means there’s a lot of room to grow. If a team is patient with Harris, she could eventually end up as this class’ best keeper. Continue reading