(Note: I’ve generally included free agent signings that have be widely reported as happening in this analysis, though nothing has been made official yet.)
In lieu of draft grades or anything, I decided to take a bigger look at what each team has in each area of the pitch and what needs still exist heading into the free agency period. I’ll probably analyze free agency signings themselves once the deadline to make them passes this week, with a supplemental draft preview if the league bothers to release the names of participants.
Goalkeepers – While, in a sense, the Breakers not taking a goalkeeper in the draft was something of a vote of confidence towards Mexican international Cecilia Santiago, there’s little questioning that the club needs some veteran competition for the teenager. While Santiago has made big strides at international level, she’s still just a teenager, and entrusting the club’s hopes between the pipes to one so young would be a very risky proposition. The problem, of course, is that there’s not much in the way of starting calibre goalkeeping out there in the open market. Val Henderson is obviously the big name left unallocated, and Boston would likely afford her the most playing time right off the bat in all likelihood. The quality of options drops decidedly after her though, and the Breakers could be left sweating a bit if they don’t pick up the former UCLA star as a free agent.
Defenders – No subtlety here, the Breakers need center-backs. As in more than one central defender. Unless they plan a likely ill-advised conversion of another player on the roster, Boston’s got no center-backs on the roster, which has to be a bit of a worry considering a gap or two elsewhere. Kia McNeill has plenty of local ties and would certainly make a lot of sense, but she’d still be just half the equation, and Boston might still need more than two central defenders for the sake of depth. It looks a little better out wide, as first round pick Casey Short figures to get every chance of winning the left-back job. On the opposite flank, Heather Mitts looks most likely to feature at right-back, with Rhian Wilkinson capable of spelling her if necessary or featuring further up the pitch. If Boston can solve that center-back problem, they could have a very solid defensive core.
Midfielders – The Boston midfield should have plenty of teeth after the club took three defensive midfielders in the draft, but where is the creative spark going to come from? Heather O’Reilly is still a player packing much endeavor on the flank and should be able to whip inviting crosses into the forwards, but the club still needs to address a noted need for an interior playmaker that just doesn’t seem to be on the roster right now. Mariah Nogueira should play the role of destroyer-in-chief in the center of the park and filled a need on draft day. Jo Dragotta and Maddy Evans are both hustle players that can also do a lot of the hard running in midfield, but neither figures to be the player to help unlock defenses with incisive passing in the attacking third. O’Reilly takes care of one flank, but the Breakers still need someone to work on the left side, though that need probably plays second fiddle to finding a playmaker to run the show.
Forwards – The Breakers have a great lead gun in the form of Leroux to lead the line, but there’s little else that’s certain at this point. The club’s other two strikers on the roster at current are Canadian international Adriana Leon and Mexican international Anisa Guajardo, both fresh out of the college ranks. Both have shown signs of greatness at both international and college level, but neither is anything close to a complete product at this point. The club would probably be best served with easing both into the professional ranks as super subs to begin with, but if they can’t add some depth and quality to the attacking cadre, they might not have a choice in the matter. At any rate, experienced additions up top should be a priority for the club. Leroux’s the relative veteran head of the bunch, but she’s just twenty-two and doesn’t even have an actual professional match on her resume, having played last year with the amateur Seattle Sounders Women in the W-League.