W-League: DC-area team preview 2015

Why follow the W-League? “This is where it all starts,” says Kristen Meier, former professional player for the Seattle Reign and currently captain of the Braddock Road Stars Elite. “You’re watching the World Cup, come out here and see the stepping stones to getting there. We have players who hopefully in four, eight, twelve years will be on that team.”

Given the talent on the local teams, it seems like a good bet. Washington has eight players with youth national team experience, most notably Andi Sullivan, who captained the US team in last year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup. And Braddock Road already has five – including three of Sullivan’s 2014 teammates – with even more up-and-coming young players on the bubble.

So if you come out to see the Stars Elite play the Spirit Reserves (and you have three matches to choose from), you’ve got a pretty good chance of seeing the next Ali Krieger, Lori Lindsey, or Becky Sauerbrunn – all of whom honed their skills on local W-League teams long before getting called up to the national team.
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NWSL – Round Seven Fantasy Preview

With just three matches, 81.50 points was a pretty good total when all was said and done, and it was good enough to see me at fourth overall on the season. And this was despite getting almost nothing from my defense and midfield, which flopped big time, including Allie Long, who netted me just a single point as my captain. Gambling on Kelsey Wys turned out to be the right call, as she brought home twenty-six points with a clean sheet win against Sky Blue FC.

We’re back to four games this round (and for the foreseeable future), with Seattle on a bye (again), while they play the Chinese WNT in a friendly. The fixture that many will be looking to exploit is the Spirit’s trip to WNY, where they’ll be going up against a third-string goalkeeper whose identity is still unknown as of my writing of this. Even if the Flash’s goalkeeper turns out to be a competent replacement, the Spirit figure to test her early and often, meaning phantom points galore at the very least.

Portland would’ve been a great pick against Houston, but you might want to pump the brakes on them a little bit after they laid an egg last week against Boston. Speaking of Boston, they improved markedly against the Thorns in their win, but it’s still very tough to trust them with full confidence, even with a slumping SBFC side coming to town. SBFC definitely had chances to break their malaise last week, but they still aren’t finding the final touch in front of goal.

FCKC vs Chicago is a top of the table toss-up. The big question is whether you should keep rolling with Sofia Huerta if you’ve got her in your lineup. It’s hard to argue with her form, but FCKC’s defense is much better than Houston and Boston’s.

GK

Wys (WSH) – Fancy her for the win and a handful of saves, but, man, that defense is giving up a lot of shots, so you suspect she’ll be due for a clunker now and then.

Betos (POR) – Will be wanting to put last week’s unfortunate error behind her and has a good matchup to do it, though the gimpiness of her defense is worrying.

Barnhart (FCKC) – A lot of fantasy owners probably lost their collective minds when she didn’t start the second match against WNY a few rounds back. But she’ll be back on Saturday and is as steady as death and taxes in goal.

Dalton (CHI) – FCKC are in decent form but they don’t score much, so Dalton may still put up decent points even if she doesn’t win/doesn’t keep a clean sheet.

Kranich (BOS) – Nice showing against Portland, so she’s got some upside. But are you really trusting Boston’s defense after just one match?

Cameron (SBFC) – I actually like SBFC to win on Friday, but really, until they prove they can win again, stay away.

Henninger (HOU) – Hard to trust for much with the defense getting chopped and changed in front of her, and the Dash going on the road against a motivated Portland side.
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USWNT – USA vs Mexico SoccerMeter Stats

Mexico 1st Half USA
1 Goals 1
4 Shots 12
12:04 Time of Possession 20:58
37% Time of Possession % 63%
210 First Touches 351
89 Passes 231
42% Pass Completion % 66%
11 Number of Pass Strings 35
3.8 Average Pass String Length 5.1
7 Longest Pass String 14

 

Mexico 2nd Half USA
0 Goals 4
1 Shots 15
13:31 Time of Possession 18:55
42% Time of Possession % 58%
220 First Touches 327
113 Passes 221
51% Pass Completion % 68%
13 Number of Pass Strings 35
4.8 Average Pass String Length 5.1
14 Longest Pass String 15

 

Mexico Game Total USA
1 Goals 5
5 Shots 27
25:36 Time of Possession 39:53
39% Time of Possession % 61%
430 First Touches 678
202 Passes 452
47% Pass Completion % 67%
24 Number of Pass Strings 70
4.4 Average Pass String Length 5.1
14 Longest Pass String 15

Spirit steal win from Sky Blue, 1-0

It wasn’t that long ago that a soccer version of Murphy’s Law seemed to govern the Washington Spirit: anything that could go wrong would, and even playing well didn’t ensure success. Playing as badly as they did Saturday night would have been a disaster on the scoreboard. Instead, in second-half stoppage time Crystal Dunn found Francisca Ordega with a long ball over the top that left Sky Blue goalkeeper Brittany Cameron in no-man’s land, too far out to protect the goal but not far enough out to get to the ball. Ordega collected the ball, dodged past Cameron, and put it away in the open net.

Head coach Mark Parsons, normally loquacious, was terse and pointed in the post-game interview. When asked why he only subbed twice in a game where the Spirit were struggling for chances, he said, “I couldn’t make more subs because I couldn’t decide who deserved to come off more. Because it was bad. Really bad. And they know it. About the 60th minute, I’m already thinking about training and I wouldn’t know where to start, because there were about 200 things you would want to touch on.”
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NWSL – Round Six Fantasy Preview

I’m writing this preview of round six before round five has even finished. That’ll be a rarity, as there aren’t any more double game weeks until July, which should leave things uncomplicated in that regard, though the WWC absences are going to be a constant headache for fantasy managers. Adding to some of the difficulty this round is the fact that there are just three matches, with FCKC, WNY, and Seattle all on byes.

Personally, the decision to captain Nicole Barnhart was a good call last round, even before her result against WNY on Thursday. As for everything else? Uh, not good on my end. My forwards were awful, and my midfield underwhelmed, save Allie Long. I’ll be hoping for more points on Thursday, but I’m regretting Mana Shim and Lynn Williams being on my bench after they combined for nearly twenty-nine points through the games of last weekend.

This round, there are three matches, and all have clear favorites, with Chicago, Portland, and Washington all favored comfortably to pick up three points. Most owners will go in heavy on the three, hoping to avoid a surprise during a week that looks predictable on paper.

Final note: Crystal Dunn and Kendall Johnson are the big changes in position after the customary switches through the first quarter.

GK

Wys (WSH) – Defense still looks dreadful, but SBFC couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat right now, making her a top option this round.

Dalton (CHI) – Looked good in her American pro debut and faces a Dash side with a lot less punch without Brian and Lloyd.

Betos (POR) – Thorns should crush Boston again, but defense is far from a brick wall as evidenced by last week.

Henninger (HOU) – Probably the sleeper option. I wouldn’t, but if you fancy an underdog winning, Houston’s probably the best bet.
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USWNT – USA vs Republic of Ireland SoccerMeter Stats

This…was not very pretty.

USA 1st Half Ireland
2 Goals 0
13 Shots 0
20:42 Time of Possession 10:38
66% Time of Possession % 34%
352 First Touches 180
262 Passes 90
74% Pass Completion % 50%
37 Number of Pass Strings 13
5.8 Average Pass String Length 3.5
13 Longest Pass String 6
USA 2nd Half Ireland
1 Goals 0
11 Shots 0
18:13 Time of Possession 11:48
61% Time of Possession % 39%
339 First Touches 185
229 Passes 75
68% Pass Completion % 41%
34 Number of Pass Strings 10
5.4 Average Pass String Length 3.7
19 Longest Pass String 5
USA Game Total Ireland
3 Goals 0
24 Shots 0
38:55 Time of Possession 22:26
63% Time of Possession % 37%
691 First Touches 365
491 Passes 165
71% Pass Completion % 45%
71 Number of Pass Strings 23
5.6 Average Pass String Length 3.6
19 Longest Pass String 6

NWSL – Round Five Fantasy Preview + AWK Group First Segment Results/Cuts

First of all, the first segment of the AWK Eliminator Fantasy League has ended. Teams below the Top 90 have been eliminated, with nobody saved by the round winner provision yet. After round eight, we’ll cut down to the Top 75.

* = Round winner, immune to elimination

1. Ark FC – 437.00 pts
2. Picker’s Picks – 424.00 pts
*3. Sporting KC – 421.50 pts
*4. Chris Henderson All White Kit – 412.00 pts
5. Pinoe Power – 403.50 pts
6. Waverly Homebrew – 391.50 pts
7. Little Sous Chef – 390.00 pts
8. Dreamville FC – 377.50 pts
9. Pinoe – 377.00 pts
10. HTFU FC – 375.50 pts
11. Ambergris – 373.00 pts
12. Eleven – 370.50 pts
13. Queen City Envy – 368.00 pts
14. fc english – 366.00 pts
15. Hunters of Artemis – 365.00 pts
16. Orange Is The New Sky Blue – 362.00 pts
17. Back That Pass Up – 357.50 pts
18. Dash to Victory – 348.50 pts
19. pinoelicious – 344.50 pts
(tie) Life’s A Pitch – 344.50 pts
21. Team Dubz – 343.50 pts
22. FC Lake Placid – 341.00 pts
23. GPFan19 – 339.50 pts
24. Southeast WoSo – 339.00 pts
*25. Fiveankles FC – 338.50 pts
26. ThunderKicks – 337.00 pts
27. Dani’s Dream Team FC – 335.50 pts
28. I’m So Dunn – 335.00 pts
29. pk1320 – 334.00 pts
(tie) Shim Shim Sheree – 334.00 pts
31. Bahston Breakahs – 333.50 pts
32. GogoGirls SC – 330.00 pts
33. Blue Ridge Stars – 329.00 pts
34. Cult of Personality – 327.00 pts
35. O’Neill FC – 324.50 pts
36. The Mighty Aussies – 323.50 pts
37. Long Beach Palms – 323.00 pts
38. Hind Seitz – 322.50 pts
39. The Money Makers – 322.00 pts
40. Lancers FC – 321.00 pts
41. bingwa fc – 319.50 pts
42. Spirit Strikers – 317.00 pts
43. Picker Picks – 316.00 pts
44. Amateur Hour – 315.00 pts
45. Sonic Screwdrivers – 312.50 pts
46. The Meta – 308.50 pts
(tie) Kekambas – 308.50 pts
48. N W S YELL – 307.50 pts
49. SBVilla5 – 306.00 pts
50. OldSchoolKickers – 305.00 pts
(tie) houston stars – 305.00 pts
52. off the crossbar – 304.50 pts
53. Reign Dynasty – 304.00 pts
(tie) Anfield Annihilators – 304.00 pts
55. FC Krieger – 303.00 pts
56. Carli’s Princesses – 300.50 pts
*57. Spicy Colaprico – 300.00 pts
(tie) Flash Mob – 300.00 pts
59. benbuhlman – 299.00 pts
60. MAGICJILL – 297.00 pts
61. FC Grand Lake – 296.50 pts
62. Ultimate Frisbie FC – 296.00 pts
63. The Peanut Gallery – 293.50 pts
64. Reigns of Castamere – 293.00 pts
65. Pitches and HAO’s – 292.50 pts
66. DogPile Divers FC – 291.50 pts
(tie) Star City FC – 291.50 pts
68. karimahb – 291.00 pts
69. Zbornaks – 290.00 pts
70. The Snow Dogs – 288.00 pts
71. Canton Cardinals – 287.50 pts
72. MOOSE FC – 287.00 pts
73. LoganTOM – 286.50 pts
(tie) The Fighting Bronte Sisters – 286.50 pts
75. Leave it on the field – 284.50 pts
76. Midwest Hurricane FC – 284.00 pts
(tie) Mana’s Shin – 284.00 pts
78. NutmeggersUnion – 283.00 pts
79. Fantasy TM – 279.00 pts
80. Slabs Rule – 278.00 pts
81. LA Wants A Team – 276.50 pts
82. Ocho For President – 275.50 pts
83. Margaritaville – 270.00 pts
84. Istanbul Koalas – 269.00 pts
85. PressureDoesntMakeMe – 268.50 pts
86. Pinoe Pride – 261.50 pts
87. steviefc – 258.50 pts
88. ChiPhoenix – 257.50 pts
89. USWNTMD9 – 256.00 pts
90. KellyG FC – 251.50 pts
-
91. TeresaHaz – 249.50 pts
(tie) Avondale Winos – 249.50 pts
(tie) mickdog’s rosy outlook – 249.50 pts
94. DekaForceTen – 242.00 pts
95. Fletch – 234.50 pts
96. Freekick Murphys – 230.00 pts
97. Grounders FC – 225.50 pts
98. Scr1pt0h10 – 221.00 pts
99. Breaking Pricks – 218.00 pts
100. LI FC – 216.50 pts
101. Tee Party – 203.50 pts
102. Everyday is Leg Day – 201.50 pts
103. cyw – 193.50 pts
104. Women Playing Soccer – 189.50 pts
105. NWSL Belfast – 189.00 pts
106. 1865 Cranberry Rovers FC – 185.00 pts
107. Jayhawks – 178.50 pts
108. IAmHangerery – 176.00 pts
109. Enad FC – 170.00 pts
110. immunogenicity – 159.00 pts
111. Lollierots – 148.50 pts
112. RichmondManU – 126.50 pts
113. Charwuls Samoset – 125.00 pts
114. Brace Yourself – 105.00 pts
115. Umea IK – 49.50 pts
116. The Kelley O’Haras – 0.00 pts
(tie) Dash Dynasty – 0.00 pts
(tie) MarshallFC – 0.00 pts
(tie) Dream Destroyers – 0.00 pts
(tie) Roadrunners FC – 0.00 pts
(tie) Dunn Squad – 0.00 pts
(tie) Bettyloumays – 0.00 pts

OK. On to round five, AKA when things get really tough. This is the last double game week until mid-July (!), a big sea change from the past two seasons, where mid-week games often dictated strategy for fantasy teams. Now, it’s more of a guessing game, especially with the WWC ready to take players away. All of the notables are gone for both the USWNT and Canada (presumably). Do note that Washington’s Francisca Ordega was not released for Nigeria’s Olympic Qualifiers this weekend, meaning the Spirit should have her for a few more matches which could be important, as she’s looked dangerous thus far for the club.

FC Kansas City and Western New York play each other twice this round, so you obviously want to draw from those two clubs for the bulk of your lineup, though the former is obviously a much better bet than the latter. Otherwise, Chicago will probably be favored against a Boston side leaking goals, while SBFC may find problems in stopping the rot against Seattle despite home advantage. The big question mark is probably the match where Portland hosts Washington. The Thorns top the league for the moment (but could be knocked out by the time they play on Saturday) but are playing with an almost skeleton crew after international departures, while the Spirit have been strong in the table but underwhelming in my WTSR table, indicating they could be vulnerable on the road.

Houston is on a bye, meaning no Kealia Ohai, no Jessica McDonald.

GK

Barnhart (FCKC) – The no-brainer pick. She’ll be in everyone’s squad, with good reason. Figure she’s good for at least one win and one clean sheet, even with defensive questions. Maybe more. A decent shout for a captain.

Kopmeyer (SEA) – A great bet if you don’t want to go with Barnhart. SBFC slumping big time, and she’s playing behind a cohesive backline.

Dalton (CHI) – I think Dalton’s talented, but she’s still unproven at this level and will be playing behind a defense without Johnston anchoring it. Boston can score too, so I’d wait a round before tabbing her.

Angerer (POR) – Still here for now apparently. Probably one of the more stable options in goal but the matchup isn’t great.

Wys (WSH) – Your guess as good as mine as to who leads the Portland frontline this week, but they still have many midfielders that can score, so I’d be wary.

D’Angelo (WNY) – Will be making a lot of saves probably but could be shelled. Despite two matches, I’d avoid.

Cameron (SBFC) – Stats point to SBFC as being league’s worst team thus far, and not much hope of immediate turnaround against Reign.

Kranich (BOS) – Only for the really, really brave. Hasn’t played a professional minute and is behind a woeful backline.
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NWSL – 2018 Draft Class Top 25 Ranking – Sullivan Leads The Way

It’s always shaky to try and make projections when just 25% of the evidence is in, and that probably goes double for this potential 2018 NWSL Draft Class, which is pretty muddled after Andi Sullivan, a no-brainer at #1 after 2014. Besides her and a pair of very promising goalkeepers in Cassie Miller and Casey Murphy, there’s very little separating the top cluster of prospects. But you probably expected that considering this is a ranking of players with just a season of match experience at this level under their belt.

Positional Top Fives

GK

1. Cassie Miller – Florida State
2. Casey Murphy – Rutgers
3. Emily Boyd – Cal
4. Laura Dougall – Buffalo
5. Kindra Lierz – Southeast Missouri State

DEF

1. Jessie Scarpa – North Carolina
2. Emma Koivisto – Florida State
3. Hailey Harbison – Pepperdine
4. Zoey Goralski – UCLA
5. Maddie Elliston – Penn State

MF

1. Andi Sullivan – Stanford
2. Emily Ogle – Penn State
3. Aly Moon – Arizona State
4. Rachel Corboz – Georgetown
5. Hannah Lopiccolo – Northeastern

FW

1. Michaela Abam – West Virginia
2. Megan Buckingham – North Carolina
3. Frannie Crouse – Penn State
4. Gabi Stoian – Arizona
5. Imani Dorsey – Duke

Overall Top 25

1. Andi Sullivan – MF (DMC), D (CB) – Stanford

There are still three years left to go before this draft class graduates, but it’s really hard at this point to see anyone displacing Sullivan from this #1 spot. Came in as the top recruit from the class of 2014 and more than lived up to that billing en route to grabbing numerous freshman of the year awards. Captain of the U.S. U20 team that disappointed in 2014 and eleven days short of getting a chance for redemption with the 2016 team. Played as both a defensive oriented central midfielder and as a libero type center-back for Stanford as a rookie, and her versatility is a big ace in the hole in her pursuit of being the top pick from this class. Not a flashy player by any means, but Sullivan is the type of building block that championship teams are constructed from, meaning she’ll be in high demand on draft day in 2018.

2. Michaela Abam – F/M/D – West Virginia

This is another projection pick and seems a little foolish on paper considering Abam started just six matches as a rookie. But Abam was also tremendously productive as a rookie, leading West Virginia with eight goals and winning Big XII Newcomer of the Year honors. For a forward, her efficiency numbers were really poor though, raising questions as to whether Abam can make a transition to being an attacker at the next level. Abam has played at center-back at youth international level though, and that may be a ticket to sticking at a higher level. Another contender for the 2016 U20 team and a player with a lot of raw potential who could turn into a true gem with a few more years of seasoning.
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NWSL – Round Four Fantasy Preview

Despite the rather dubious captaining of Carli Lloyd and playing with Bianca Henninger in goal, I nearly made it to the magic one hundred point mark in round three which was good enough to keep me at tenth overall. Considering how agonizingly close I was to captaining Christen Press and going for Jessica McDonald instead of Kealia Ohai, it could’ve been so much more, but I can’t really complain after I got out to a much slower start last season.

This round is where things start to get really messy for fantasy owners. Only Boston, Chicago, and WNY have their USWNT players at their disposal thanks to contractual obligations that are keeping everyone from playing more than three matches before the WWC. That means little for Boston and WNY, but it’s a huge bonus for Chicago, as another match of Christen Press is probably music to everyone’s ears. Of course, she’ll also be captaining many, many teams this round, so some may want to look at contrarian options.

This is also the last round in the first segment of the AWK Eliminator League. Teams below #90 that did not win a round will be eliminated. So the pressure’s on.

GK

Naeher (BOS) – Do you trust Boston’s backline? They’re still conceding multiple goals against opponents, even though WNY’s offense has looked pitiful in two matches. Not a bad way to spend an allocated slot, but I’m still a little worried.

Barnhart (FCKC) – I’m skeptical about the backline in front of her, but Barnie’s still one of the league’s best netminders and has every chance at a clean sheet against a Houston team without its midfield firepower.

Kopmeyer (SEA) – Good option for those not using allocated slots on a keeper. Still green though, and Reign defense isn’t exactly a fortress through three matches.

Wys (WSH) – Won’t cost you an allocated slot, but defense hasn’t been tremendous and going on the road against a tough opponent.

LeBlanc (CHI) – All signs point to her being available, but SBFC has shown a little punch and has Nadia Nadim to worry about, so not the strongest play.

Henninger (HOU) – Looked dodgy last weekend against Boston and facing a much better offense this round against FCKC. With defense also shedding bodies, it’s a tough ask to roll with her.

Cameron (SBFC) – Making lots of saves, but are you really going to trust her against a Press led offense?

D’Angelo/Jones (WNY) – Not sure the Canadian will keep her place as starter after her howler against Portland, but regardless, it’s not a situation I’d touch until Flash show they can win.
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NWSL – Round Three Fantasy Preview

I had a great round two, as the double game strategy worked a peach, while my single gamers also came through. It was a pretty easy round on paper, and not overthinking it paid off, as I tied for the overall win for the week.

This round is much more treacherous. There are only three matches, a slew of injuries to the competing teams, and the three teams on byes really limit options. FCKC and Seattle are fantasy go-to teams most rounds, while betting against WNY looks to be a great option thus far, meaning the absence of all three severely limits sure things. This round, it may be less about matchups and more about betting on talent to carry you through.

GK

Angerer (POR) – Boosted by Van Hollebeke and Williamson being only probable on the injury report. Still a chance that Press goes bananas again though, so be vigilant.

LeBlanc (CHI) – Culpable, to say the least, last weekend against Seattle. But Portland are down to bare bones on the frontline, though I’m a bit skittish about using an allocation spot on her.

McLeod (HOU) – Fancy the Dash to win, but Boston also showed they can put up some offense, so not a sure thing, especially costing an allocation spot.

Harris (WSH) – Would’ve been a great bet if SBFC was missing Nadim, but she’s probable, with the New Jersey side a whole different animal with their talisman in action.

Cameron (SBFC) – Spirit offense still inconsistent, but she made a bad error leading to a Houston goal last week. Will Gabarra do his Captain Hook impression and give Aubrey Bledsoe a chance?

Naheher (BOS) – May make a lot of saves, but defense in front of her shaky as ever and will be missing leadership of Whitehill on backline, so I’d avoid.

DEF

Dunn (WSH) – Until her position gets changed, she’s a must start in your weekly lineup, even though she does take up an allocation slot.

Johnson (POR) – Winning fouls, creating offense. Pretty much a weekly play at this point.

O’Hara (SBFC) – Another who needs serious consideration as long as she may play further forward. Production hasn’t been there thus far though, but she might be primed for a breakout round.

Johnston (CHI) – As always, a threat on set-pieces. Matchup’s a bit iffy though, and she costs an allocation slot.

Cross (HOU) – Potentially the only way to cover the clean sheet against Boston without using an allocation slot.

Kallman (BOS) – If you think Boston can keep a clean sheet, Kallman’s likely your best bet.

Gilliland (CHI) – Deep sleeper, but she could be worth a punt if Quon can’t go due to injury. Check lineups before deadline on Saturday.
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