It’s time for Take Two on the Houston Dash, as Chris (@chris_awk) and Jon (@jonlipsitz) break down the fallout from the Christen Press imbroglio. Beyond that, they discuss Houston’s fresh start and new look roster. Can the offense produce without Press? Is the midfield capable of competing? And is the defense better than some might think?
It’s part three of Chris (@chris_awk) and Jon’s (@jonlipsitz) 2018 NWSL preview. In this edition, they look at another one of last year’s playoff teams, the Chicago Red Stars. What will be the overall impact of Sam Kerr’s arrival? Will they be more tactically flexible with the shakeup on offense? And could the club’s situation in central defense hurt their title hopes?
In this episode of the WoSo Independent Podcast, Chris (@chris_awk) and Jon (@jonlipsitz) continue their preview of the 2018 NWSL season. This time out, they look at one of last year’s playoff teams, the Orlando Pride. Is it title or bust for Tom Sermanni’s side? How will Sydney Leroux fit into the superstar attack? And will the backline be the undoing of any title hopes for the Pride?
One of the glories of having access to inStat data now is having the ability to compare and contrast players from around the globe in WoSo, which is a big boon for someone in the United States who wants to increase their knowledge of the international game. So when FIFPro released their shortlist of fifty-five players in consideration for their Best XI for 2017, I naturally wanted to examine those on the list.
This ranking is based on the overall “inStat Index” number for each player, which is essentially an average of overall game ratings over a period of time. I calculated the average Index for each player from the entire calendar year of 2017 all the way up to just before the SheBelieves Cup/Algarve/Cyprus Cup matches, which aren’t included in the ranking. I also only included senior international matches as well as domestic league and continental comps (so no domestic cup or club friendlies) in the calculations.
I also struggled with sample size for some players. Unfortunately, not every match is rated in inStat, meaning some of the players just don’t have enough data in the system. I set a very generous minimum of twelve matches for inclusion in this list. Deyna Castellanos has more than twelve matches, but they’re all at college level, which I don’t consider compatible for the purposes of this list. Here are those who didn’t have enough data:
N/A – Deyna Castellanos – FW, CM – Venezuela – Florida State
N/A – Natalia Gaitan – CB, DM, RB – Colombia – Valencia
N/A – Tuija Hyyrynen – RB, CB – Finland – Juventus
N/A – Andreea Paraluta – GK – Romania – Atletico Madrid
N/A – Alice Parisi – DM, CM – Italy – Fiorentina
N/A – Laura Rus – FW – Romania – Reggiana
And now the list…
Tier 6 – The “Wait, What?” Tier
49. – Sandra Zigic – LB – Croatia – Jena
48. – Elena Linari – CB – Italy – Fiorentina
Tier 5 – Good Players With Great Reputations
47. – Sara Dabritz – DM, CM, LM – Germany – FC Bayern
46. – Carli Lloyd – CM, FW – USA – Sky Blue FC
45. – Alanna Kennedy – CB, DM – Australia – Orlando Pride
44. – Shanice van de Sanden – RM – Holland – Lyon
43. – Karen Carney – CM, LM, RM – England – Chelsea
42. – Danielle van de Donk – CM, LM – Holland – Arsenal
41. – Line Roddik Hansen – CB, LB – Denmark – Barcelona
40. – Jodie Taylor – FW – England – Seattle Reign
39. – Victoria Losada – CM, DM – Spain – Barcelona
38. – Nadia Nadim – FW, RM – Denmark – Manchester City
Tier 4 – The Great But Just Short of World Class Tier
37. – Jackie Groenen – DM, CM, FW – Holland – Frankfurt
36. – Katarzyna Kiedrzynek – GK – Poland – Paris Saint-Germain
35. – Stephanie Houghton – CB – England – Manchester City
34. – Kristin Demann – CB, DM – Germany – FC Bayern
33. – Anouk Dekker – CB, DM, CM – Holland – Montpellier
32. – Almuth Schult – GK – Germany – Wolfsburg
31. – Millie Bright – CB, DM – England – Chelsea
30. – Sandra Panos – GK – Spain – Barcelona
29. – Saki Kumagai – DM, CB – Japan – Lyon
Megan Rapinoe scored early in the first half off an Alex Morgan flick in windy conditions as the USWNT edged past Germany, 1-0, in a ragged game on Thursday night in Columbus.
1. A Familiar American Lineup
One suspects that the XI that stepped out onto the pitch for the U.S. on Thursday might end up being pretty close to the first choice squad that hops off the plane in 2019 in France. While Becky Sauerbrunn is likely to replace Tierna Davidson in the lineup once healthy, and Carli Lloyd could be usurped by Sam Mewis, the other nine players look solid bets for the starting lineup. After a long, long string of experimentation last year, the U.S. settling on a steady lineup could be a relief, though fans will certainly hope that performances improve from Thursday’s display.
2. Germans Lack the Final Touch
It’s a tale that German supporters have too often been forced to endure in recent years: talent and chance creation but little to show for it on the scoreboard. And so it was for most of the opening half from Columbus, with the likes of Svenja Huth creating a string of chances with crosses and others providing some smooth dribbling into the box, but nobody in white could pounce. They were a bit unlucky at times, with one shot shaving the far post, but the continued lack of goals against elite opposition has to be concerning. It’s difficult seeing the likes of Marozsan and Popp giving way any time soon, but Steffi Jones will surely be considering some of her other attacking options in this tournament’s other matches. Jones made a few changes in the attack towards the end of the second half, but her side struggled to regain the group they had on the game early in the first half.
France were humiliated in an astonishing 4-1 rout by England in cold and blustery Columbus, Ohio on Thursday.
Here are some thoughts:
1. Questionable Team Selection for France:
Given the new nature of Corinne Diacre’s reign as France WNT manager, there was probably some expectation of squad rotation throughout this tournament as they prepare for the meat of WWC qualifying. But Diacre sprung a serious shock from the off, leaving out Sarah Bouhaddi in goal in favor of the relatively untested Karima Benameur. While the keeper wasn’t guilty of serious howlers, rolling the dice right away was a shock.
Even more surprising was the omission of Amel Majri from the starting lineup. Majri’s been in incredible form for club and country over the past year and looked to be a sure thing in the lineup based on form. But Diacre opted for Sakina Karchaoui at left-back and Eugenie Le Sommer on the wing, leaving Majri on the bench. Given the quality of those two, squeezing Majri into the lineup could be difficult, but based on recent form, it seems necessary if France is to get the most from this squad.
2. A Tough Break Unpunished for England
England’s center-back situation coming into Thursday’s match was already up in the air with Millie Bright a doubt because of illness and other injuries hitting depth. The above prompted a recall of Anita Asante to the squad after a long absence, and the veteran started at the heart of defense with Bright but was forced off very early through injury, with Abbie McManus brought in to fill the breach. But with the raw McManus and potentially unwell Bright anchoring the defense, France were unable to seriously test Karen Bardsley in goal. While the Three Lionesses were able to survive against an off-song France side, how they hold up in defense in the other two rounds of the tournament if Asante is out is a big question.
In episode #38 of the WoSo Independent Podcast, it’s preview season! Chris (@chris_awk) and Jon (@jonlipsitz) kick off their 2018 NWSL team previews by looking at the Seattle Reign. With a new manager and some big name recruits, can the former Shield winners break back into the playoffs?
For me, the 2018 NWSL draft was the culmination of the last four years (and more) of covering the elite amateur teams in the Washington, DC, area, as half-a-dozen of the players I’d been covering were picked for a shot at going professional. I stopped by the Washington Spirit’s third day of practice, on Wednesday, February 21st, to talk with as many of them as I could.
Head coach Jim Gabarra talked about picking “homegrown” talent. “We’re fortunate to bring that quality of players in who have an attachment to the area or the Reserve team or teams past. It’s always good to give future generations the real true carrot, the pathway to the professional team by showing that we’ll at least give a chance to those we’ve had in as Reserves.”
I asked did he think it made it easier for those with experience with the organization to make the transition. “Yes, I think it does. The psychological part of coming into a pro team or into a national team, if you haven’t ever been there, the first couple of days, the first phase is always difficult. And this way we’ve got players in our DA or on our reserve teams that have been in training sessions with the pro team, so it’s something they’ve gone through. So they get to know you, and the comfort level is a lot higher.”
In episode #37 of the WoSo Independent Podcast, Chris (@chris_awk) and Jon (@jonlipsitz) discuss the end of the Boston Breakers and what it means for the league as a whole (1:40). They then go over the dispersal draft (14:15), including Washington’s gutsy trade up and Houston’s baffling picks. Finally, they talk about the ~BIG NEWS, an informal partnership with leading advanced stats and scouting database inStat and the ramifications of said partnership on the podcast and AWK’s coverage of WoSo going forward (1:04:45).
So here’s who Jon and I see getting taken in the dispersal draft, not keeping in mind any potential trades. SBFC have the #1 pick but are a prime contender to trade down given their long, long line of center midfielders. The injuries to Rosie White and Julie King that have them reportedly missing the opening of the 2018 season affect their status in this projection.
Additionally, the rights to Whitney Engen and/or Kyah Simon could be attractive later on in this draft.
1. SBFC – Rose Lavelle – MF
2. WSH – Savannah McCaskill – F
3. SEA – Abby Smith – GK
4. POR – Megan Oyster – D
5. URFC – Margaret Purce – F/D
6. HOU – Allysha Chapman – D/MF
7. CHI – Katie Stengel – F
8. ORL – Angela Salem – MF
9. NC – Ashton Miller – MF
10. NC – Ifeoma Onumonu – F
11. ORL – Christen Westphal – D
12. CHI – Rosie White – F/MF
13. HOU – Julie King – D
14. URFC – Natasha Dowie – F
15. POR – Brooke Elby – D
16. SEA – Morgan Andrews – MF
17. WSH – Elizabeth Wenger – D
18. SBFC – Amanda Frisbie – D