Projected 2013 Seattle Reign Starting Lineup (Without Megan Rapinoe & Teresa Noyola, Questionable Starters in Parentheses)
Projected 2013 Seattle Reign Starting Lineup (With Megan Rapinoe & Teresa Noyola, Questionable Starters in Parentheses)
Tiffany Cameron – F
Scored twenty-one goals, including a DI leading nine game winners, in 2012 but was left unallocated by Canadian WNT head coach John Herdman and then undrafted in the rookie draft. Go figure. Newly minted full Canadian international isn’t likely to stay unfunded long if she can replicate any degree of her scoring form with Ohio State as a senior this past year. Had only scored nineteen goals combined in three previous years, perhaps fueling fears that she might be a one-hit wonder, but arguing against someone coming off a twenty-one goal season is pretty hard. Possesses excellent pace and showed no end of cool finishing ability in 2012, with numerous calm finishes in different situations for the Buckeyes. Reign need goal scorers and they need them badly, meaning Cameron will likely get every opportunity to impress as a starter right from the beginning for the Pacific Northwest side.
Kate Deines – D/M
Hometown heroine was a natural pick to stay in Seattle and suit up for the hometown Reign after a storied collegiate career at Washington and a stint with the Sounders Women last year following the collapse of WPS. Was a consistent source of offense in college as the heartbeat of the Huskies, finishing with twenty-one goals despite being a defense-first midfielder in many regards. Has been more of a presence on the backline at center-back at the next level, including at U.S. U23 level. Would probably be best suited as a rock in the midfield for the Reign until the club gets some of its depth back from Europe mid-season, but the club is also in dire need of some capable performers in the middle of the defense as well. Whether the club can convince Nikki Krzysik to play for them could well dictate where Deines suits up for the Reign this season.
Jess Fishlock – M
Signing of Welsh WNT captain could be seen as a major coup for both the Reign and the fledgling NWSL in general. A well traveled figure in recent years, Fishlock has featured abroad in Australia and Holland in addition to England, and Seattle will surely be hoping that some of her continental class rubs off on a squad that could be packed with inexperienced youngsters. In the short-term, Fishlock could be just what the doctor ordered in midfield, as the Reign have to figure out how they’ll make do without Megan Rapinoe and Teresa Noyola early in the season. Considering there’s a dearth of proven talent at this level in both the midfield and attack, at least until Rapinoe returns, Fishlock really might find herself suiting up anywhere in the midfield or attack this season. A smooth transition to the American game could be vital for the Reign’s postseason hopes this year.
(I actually read this last fall, but right before the news about the NWSL started getting hot and heavy. So I decided to hold off publishing it. Now that we’re in a bit of a preseason lull, I figured I’d go ahead and share it.)
First off, if you’re interested in this autobiography, make sure you don’t do what I did at first and end up requesting Hope Solo: My Story, which is the “young reader’s edition”, i.e., it has all the really juicy parts taken out. The prologue to that one is only two paragraphs long (ending in “Hope.” rather than going on to spend a couple of pages on the 2007 incident.) And the story of her mother getting back at the neighbors by putting up the fence they insisted on but putting a big yellow smiley face on it ends with “The smiley face wasn’t about happiness but a big protest against our neighbors.” instead of the original’s “The smiley face wasn’t a reflection of internal happiness. It was a big ‘f*** you’ to our neighbors.” [Asterisks mine.]
Second, let me be clear that I’m no fan of Hope Solo’s: she’s gone out of her way to insult and impugn friends of mine. I was actually mostly on her side back in 2007 (my personal opinion is that everything she said was absolutely true; the only problem was that she was the last person who should have been saying them), but since then she’s made several offensive statements.
That being said, this very frank autobiography went a long way toward increasing my sympathy for her. She had a tough life early: her father was a petty crook and con man who drifted in and out of her life – her mother got pregnant when she visited him in prison – and she had a feisty, conflicted relationship with the remaining relatives close to her like her mother and brother. Soccer was an escape and one she was very good at – though as a goal-scoring forward, not as the goalkeeper she eventually became.
Projected 2013 Portland Thorns Lineup (Without Tobin Heath, Questionable Starters in Parentheses)
Projected 2013 Portland Thorns Lineup (With Tobin Heath, Questionable Starters in Parentheses)
Becky Edwards – M
Florida State alum picked up a pair of winner’s medals in WPS with FC Gold Pride in 2010 and WNY Flash in 2011. Took an obvious backseat in the headline department to her more flashy attacking teammates at both spots but was really the glue that helped form a cohesive and deadly unit both going forward and in defense in WPS. Edwards spent last season in Sweden with mid-table Kristianstads before signing back domestically with the Thorns. Another talented central midfielder who has found her path to the full USWNT blocked despite success at U20 and U23 levels. Likely to be the midfield fulcrum, sitting ahead of the backline and shielding what could be a tenuous defense if Dalmy and Ellertson don’t play. Another on this club who could conceivably work their way into USWNT contention with a strong season.
Allie Long – M
Big midfielder can play a variety of roles in the middle of the park but figures to be more of an offensive figure this season with the presence of Becky Edwards as the likely defensive midfielder in front of the backline. Could be a playmaker in attack playing behind Christine Sinclair and Alex Morgan, especially until Tobin Heath returns later in the season. With Heath absent, Long could also be forced out wide on the left if the club plays with four in the midfield, with Angie Kerr taking up the playmaker mantle. With midfield depth clearly a liability, especially early in the season, the Thorns need a solid and consistent season from Long if they’re to challenge for honors this year.
Nikki Marshall – D/F
A standout at youth international level, including a U20 World Cup winner’s medal in 2008, while also having been a mainstay at U23 level. Marshall has been oddly overlooked by the full international setup for the USWNT despite having been a tremendous asset in her (numerous) stops as a professional thus far. After an adventurous 2011 season that began in Boca Raton with magicJack and ended in Boston, Marshall was steady and effective as ever with WNY Flash in WPSL Elite while picking up the MVP award of the Final victory over Chicago. Though she’s proven to be a competent attacker at this level, Marshall will most likely be playing the role of rock at the heart of the defense for the club, though her ability to initiate attacks with the ball at her feet should be useful as well. When the club is missing Alex Morgan and/or Christine Sinclair on international duty though, Marshall could well step back into a role up front.
Projected 2013 FC Kansas City Lineup
Jen Buczkowski – M
Hammer and nails midfielder didn’t exactly look like the most pressing need to be filled with the presence of Desiree Scott on the roster, but Buczkowski’s quality inevitably turned out to be too much to be passed up by FCKC. After helping Sky Blue FC win the inaugural league title in WPS, Buczkowski was a surprisingly early selection by Philly in the expansion draft a season later but more than proved her worth, becoming an immovable object in front of the Independence backline for two seasons. Constant on Chicago’s WPSL Elite team last season and stays in the Midwest this year as a likely bulwark of the FCKC midfield. It’ll be interesting to see how the club implements her and Scott tactically, but if one has to give way, you don’t figure it’ll be Buczkowski.
Sinead Farrelly – M
Though this FC Kansas City team is flush with talent in midfield, especially going forward, Farrelly should be the one ruling the roost in the central attacking midfield spot, at least come the beginning of the season. A captivating prospect in college, especially in her final few years with Virginia, Farrelly was given a massive vote of confidence by Paul Riley and Philadelphia in WPS, as she was taken second overall in the 2011 rookie draft. Though Farrelly wouldn’t really light up the scoreboard as a rookie, she did show glimpses of spectacular talent, enough to get her a look in full USWNT camp, though she has seemingly been in the international wilderness for a little while now. Last season was one of precious little true consequence for Farrelly in the long-term, as she had a cup of coffee with the WPSL Elite’s New York Fury before a stint in Cyrus for Champions League participants Apollon Limassol. Out of the limelight last year, Farrelly knows there’ll be pressure to perform to get herself back in the international mix as one of the U.S. top up-and-coming youngsters.
Projected 2013 Chicago Red Stars Lineup (Questionable Starters in Parentheses)
Lori Chalupny – M/D
Unwillingly internationally retired by the USSF after multiple concussions, Chalupny has nonetheless rumbled on at club level. Despite her consistent stellar play though, Chalupny had to suffer through seeing the Athletica fold before trying to carry the woeful Atlanta Beat on her back in WPS. Just as she had seemed to finally be in position to potentially win a title with Philadelphia, the league folded. It was back to the Midwest last year, as Chalupny starred for the Red Stars in WPSL Elite before a short stint in Sweden with AIK. Has the potential to be one of the world’s best left-backs but famously hates playing there despite her proficiency at full-back. Could end up as a left-winger in the attack, though a spot centrally as a midfield playmaker seems just as likely to help balance out the club’s plethora of defensive midfielders.
Taryn Hemmings – D
She may have entered WPS with the Miss Irrelevant tag in 2010 after being taken last in the rookie draft, but Hemmings certainly isn’t irrelevant any more, as the Denver product has turned into a solid defender at professional level in both the U.S. with Boston and abroad in Australia for Canberra United. With the size to play in the center and the drive and attacking thrust to play at right-back, Hemmings’ versatility will likely make her an invaluable commodity this season for the Red Stars. With presence of Lauren Fowlkes and Carmelina Moscato, Hemmings looks most likely to feature on the right for the club, though if either of the above falters, or if Rory Dames prefers a 3-5-2 formation, Hemmings could be back in the middle, anchoring the defense.
Ella Masar – F
Masar will be hoping for a return to her scoring form late in her Red Stars stint in the WPS after some trying times in recent years. Her scoring rate with the erstwhile magicJack side wasn’t exactly pristine, though you could hardly blame her for her tepid form given some of the off-the-pitch horrorshows associated with that club. Reasonable success in a stint with Paris Saint-Germain in France was followed by a rather nondescript return to the Red Stars for a small chunk of last season’s WPSL Elite campaign. With so many questions hanging over Chicago’s frontline going into the new season, Masar may well be the club’s most proven and reliable option up front. She’ll probably have to score like an elite forward as well if this club’s likely to get a sniff of the playoffs.
Projected 2013 Boston Breakers Lineup (Questionable Starters in Parentheses)
Kia McNeill – D
McNeill always seemed like a natural fit for Boston given her background as a college player and now as an assistant with her alma mater Eagles. After some trying times early in her WPS career, McNeill really came on as a member of Philadelphia in 2011 before a rather forgettable stint in Russia. With McNeill and Cat Whitehill in the middle of defense, Boston certainly shouldn’t be lacking in experience at the heart of the backline, which should be key given how young they could be in goal. While McNeill’s physical, combative style should help the club against some of the giants up front on opposing teams, the Breakers will hope the tide of rash challenges and bookings are kept to a minimum from the Avon native this season.
Lianne Sanderson – M/F
English international may have called time on her Three Lions career, but Sanderson has been scoring at a solid clip for Espanyol and D.C. United Women at club level the past few seasons. After a prolific run in England with Arsenal and Chelsea Ladies, Sanderson was often hit or miss at her first stop in North America at Philadelphia of WPS. But Boston certainly didn’t need to get any younger in their attack after their player allocation, and the experienced Sanderson should be a refreshing change of pace from some of the club’s bound-to-be inconsistent youngsters. Instead of leading the Breakers line, Sanderson figures to slot in a little deeper in all likelihood, perhaps playing behind a center forward as a second striker.
Kyah Simon – F
Boston scored a real coup last season when they brought in Simon (and Matildas teammate Tameka Butt) for their WPSL Elite campaign. The Australian international was pure dynamite in her first season in North America, shining as one of the league’s very best threats in attack. It goes without saying that the Breakers were very much covetous of Simon’s ability for another season in the U.S., especially after seeing the young Matilda lead her Sydney FC side to glory in the Westfield W-League back in her home nation. Finding a way to gel both Simon and the club’s other preeminent scoring threat, Sydney Leroux, into the same lineup effectively will likely be a key to Boston’s season in 2013.
It’s now a poorly kept secret that not everyone chosen in today’s NWSL Supplemental Draft is actually going to suit up for their team. While the speculation is bound to continue all the way up to training camp, here’s how I would rank the forty-five players selected if all were to play this season:
1. Nikki Krzysik – D
2. Tina Ellertson – D
3. Bianca Henninger – GK
4. Val Henderson – GK
5. Katy Frierson – M
6. Natasha Kai – F
7. Casey Nogueira – M/F
8. Marian Dalmy – D
9. Christina DiMartino – M
10. Stephanie Ochs – F