It was a cold and windy night, and the fearsome Makenzy stalked the plains of the Soccerplex.
“Doniak, in the first half, gave us the runaround,” said head coach Mark Parsons when asked what made the difference between last week’s win and this week’s loss.
While she didn’t score, the stellar UVA forward set up the goal with a strong run down the right side in the 35th minute. She got past flank defender Estelle Johnson and sent in a cross that was either muffed or dummied by Kristen McNabb, then was put away from close range by Alexis Shaffer.
Is it possible for both teams to lose a trade?
Monday’s bombshell trade featuring a pair of USWNT forwards was an odd one, with the WNY Flash turning an asset who was likely never going to play for them again into Sydney Leroux and Amanda Frisbie. At the same time though, they paid a steep price besides the rights to Abby Wambach, giving up Amber Brooks, recently acquired this offseason, and a first-round pick in the 2016 NWSL Draft, which may be the most important asset of all when all is said and done. And that may be the ultimate gain for the Reign, who don’t particularly seem to benefit in the short-term at all.
Some specific points:
1. I’m not particularly convinced that Abby Wambach is 100% done in the NWSL. This season? Probably. But next year? Wambach hasn’t given any indication that she intends to hang them up before the 2016 Rio Olympics, and it beggars belief that she’d be able to remain on the USWNT if she doesn’t play meaningful club football between now and next Summer. Wambach could potentially swing it if she stars in a successful WWC for the U.S., but if she and the USWNT fall on their face this Summer, it seems highly unlikely that Wambach would be selected for the Olympic roster if she can’t prove she can at least resemble an international calibre player.
Whether that proof comes with Seattle or another NWSL Pacific Northwest team (or a European side) is up for debate, but Laura Harvey at least acquired a nice bargaining chip if Wambach doesn’t want to play for the Reign.
2. That being said, why on Earth does the Reign need Amber Brooks? And for that matter, why on Earth is Seattle taking on a player that the Flash were willing to flog off on them before she played a competitive match for them. On paper, Seattle is stacked with defensive midfielders, with the combo of Keelin Winters and the more offensive minded Jessica Fishlock unlikely to budge from their starting roles. Mariah Nogueira is the blunt object of choice in defensive midfield off the bench and arguably has been just as or more impressive than Brooks thus far as a pro in the NWSL. If nobody else gets moved, where does Brooks figure in? Could Laura Harvey pull off a narrow diamond 4-4-2 with Brooks involved? It might work in the early part of the season with Beverly Yanez and Danielle Foxhoven a potential center-forward partnership. But with wide attackers like Megan Rapinoe and Katrine Veje joining up later, such a narrow formation makes little sense. For that matter, neither does Brooks in Seattle given the club’s current personnel.
The Washington Spirit line up to take on Virginia Tech in their preseason opener.
After leading scorer Jodie Taylor was traded away and runner-up Diana Matheson got injured, followers of the Washington Spirit have been wondering who’s going to score for them this year. They got four answers on Saturday as DC downed Virginia Tech, 4-0, in their first match of the 2015 preseason.
Argentine forward Estefania Banini started off the scoring in the 14th minute, collecting the ball in the goalmouth and doing some dodging and dancing reminiscent of Amy Rodriguez’s Algarve Cup goal before sticking the ball in the back of the net. That score would be the only one of the first half.
In the 52nd minute, Banini centered the ball from the left to Amanda DaCosta in front of goal, who made a nifty move as the Tech defense tried to close her down and stuck the ball in. Eleven minutes later, DaCosta would slip the ball to Christine Nairn, who tucked the ball in from uncharacteristically close range. And Laura del Rio would finish off the scoring in the 67th minute from 20 yards out, chipping the ball over the goalkeeper and into the upper right corner of the net.
Megan Brigman – D – Seattle Reign FC (North Carolina) – A draft pick last year for the Reign, Brigman was unable to distinguish herself in a loaded crop of defenders, playing little for the regular season champs. A big and quick defender with the physical tools to compete for a roster spot, Brigman will be trying to earn a contract on the main roster. There are a lot of numbers in the backline already though, so Brigman will have to impress in the preseason to stick on the roster from the start of the season.
Dominika Conc – MF – Tennessee-Martin – Slovenian international is trying to become the first player from her nation to compete in NWSL and (probably) pro WoSo in the U.S. And she’s got a fair shot at it too. Something of a cross between a box-to-box midfielder and a playmaker, Conc is physical enough to win balls while having a tremendous range of passing. And flair. Oh, so much flair. Flicks, backheels, and even a Cruyff turn or two. The Slovenian is great in tight spaces and made defenders look like fools constantly in the OVC.
Kristen Hamilton – F – Denver – Draft pick from last season gets a second chance to stick after getting injured in last year’s camp. Was one of the most decorated mid-major players of all-time, winning player of the year honors in three different conferences for the nomadic Pioneers. Last year of college was marked with fourteen goals, twelve assists, and great efficiency numbers across the board. Given the Flash’s lack of proven forward depth, she’s got a chance of sticking if she can shake the rust off.
Emily Banes – F – Towson – In one sense, it might be a season too late for Banes, who came out of 2013 having scored fifteen goals, as much as the previous three seasons combined. Banes did a hell of a job in putting up those goals on just fifty-six shots, though she also was inconsistent in the sense that she put just 48% of those shots on goal. If she can shake the rust off, Banes might stand a decent shot here considering how shaky the frontline looks on paper.
Che’ Brown – GK – Houston Aces (Radford) – You could make a legitimate case that Brown was the greatest Big South player of all-time, having won three Defensive Player of the Year awards in the league. Plays a high risk, high reward style in goal that sees her play well off her line and be quick to charge out to try and head off danger which can be a blessing and a curse at this level. An acrobatic flier that loves to make the big save. Average kicking game and can get burned by that risky style but could probably do a job as someone’s #3 with upside towards a #2 someday.
Erin Quinn – GK – Towson – Three-year starter in goal for a disappointing Towson program. Quinn was often kept busy by her less adept backline, forcing her into 93+ saves in each of her three seasons starting for the Tigers. Had a solid season in goal as a senior for the Tigers, which probably helped get her this shot at being Washington’s #3. Less developed than either Brown or Lillard though and may need more seasoning on the W-League reserves side for 2015.
Kelsey Pardue – MF – Longwood – Another familiar face who was with the reserve side the past two seasons. Was a consistent producer for Longwood through four seasons, culminating with two straight years of All-Region Third Team honors. Solid as a call-up but hard seeing her evolving into much more.
Jade Seabrook – D – Navy – A Patriot League legend for the Midshipmen, Seabrook graduated from Navy as a three time league Defensive Player of the Year. The superstar center-back certainly has the talent to get a shot at this level, but the big surprise is that she’d get an exception to do so from her commitment to the Navy. It remains to be seen if there are any limitations to Seabrook turning out for the Spirit this year, but if she’s available, the Navy defender could be a real steal in the end.
Theresa Diederich – MF – Alabama – Attacking central midfielder leaves Alabama after four years starting for the Crimson Tide and twenty-three goals, though a quarter of those were from the penalty spot. Looked like becoming one of the program’s all-time greats after seven goals as a rookie but then proceeded to a somewhat nondescript career for a mediocre Bama program. Kept scoring as an upperclassman, but her efficiency numbers took a big hit as a senior, including putting just 38% of her shots on goal. Not a big playmaker, and SBFC are already loaded at central midfield.
Maryam Huseini – F/MF – La Salle – Norwegian youth international proved a great hit for the A10 powerhouse explorers over the past four seasons. Huseini has been a playmaker extraordinaire the past two seasons, combining for twenty-five assists, giving her thirty-eight all-time for her collegiate career. Could thrive in that playmaking role, though the Norwegian has also been very inefficient when trying to put the ball in the back of the net with woeful SOG % and shots per goal numbers. Not sure she’ll stick with a club’s international spot but should find a home somewhere in Europe if she doesn’t.
Stef Scholz – F – Rutgers – Local looked like a potential draftee after a strong junior season that saw her upstage Jonelle Filigno en route to ten goals to lead the Scarlet Knights. Scholz didn’t quite crash and burn as a senior, but she did return squarely back to earth, scoring just seven goals for the club. Efficiency numbers as a senior were hardly much to shout about, needing more than seven shots to score while only putting 49% of her shots on frame. But the local status helps, and there’s room for forwards through the WWC, when much of the club’s attack will be in Canada, so she might stick.
Mele French – F – LA Blues (Oregon) – The quintessential Quadruple A player. French is probably one of the best modern era W-League players in the league’s history and showed as much this past season by winning the W-League MVP award for a rampant LA Blues side. But French has also failed to make the grade at the highest level before, and this is probably her last shot. At the very least, French could make a great amateur option for the Reign.
Jo Houplin – D – Western Washington – Another familiar face for the Reign, with Houplin having been an amateur call-up for last year’s side, though she did not see match action. Has also seen action as a player for the Philippines WNT in recent years. Was a solid but unexceptional player in lower division college soccer before a strong senior campaign. Should provide depth at full-back, though one wonders how many opportunities she’ll receive given the fact that all of the club’s first choice defenders should be with the team for the duration.
Lyndsey Patterson – F – Seattle Sounders Women (Tennessee) – The grand dame of journeyman WoSo strikers. Quick and snappy attacker might not have the top gear she once had at age thirty-two, but she has plenty of experience at many stops, including in Seattle over the years. Probably doesn’t have enough in the tank to make the full roster but could be a decent call-up.
Chelsea Archer – MF – Washington – This would be the Archer who played as a left-winger with the Huskies last season and not her twin sister, who played as a central midfielder. I think. A former U20 international, Archer’s never been a full-time starter here outside of her sophomore season and has hardly been the most productive option for UW, with just six career goals, including two this past season. Considering the club has plenty of midfield options and that Archer isn’t prolific in front of goal, she’s probably a longshot to stick.
Kate Bennett – MF – Washington – Came good as a fifth-year senior after a rather nondescript beginning of her collegiate career, first at Cal, and for her final two seasons, at Washington. Settled into a role as the club’s attacking midfielder behind a trio of forwards and finished with six goals, a career high. Scored some ridiculous goals from distance with UW and has a rocket of a shot from range. Not very efficient with the ball though and undersized for a primary attacking midfielder, meaning she’s a longshot to stick.
Savannah Coiner – D – Clemson – Towering center-back was a big part of Clemson’s rapid defensive improvement this season. Not the quickest player in central defense but has made a habit of winning last ditch tackles with nicely timed slides. A physical, uncompromising marker in defense. Was used on occasion as a target forward for the Tigers but unlikely to feature in a similar role at this level despite striking a nice ball. Thorns need defensive depth through the WWC, so she’s got a shot.
Taylor Comeau – MF – Cal – Deep-lying playmaker in midfield who found her offense as a senior, netting eight goals and seven assists as Cal’s best scoring threat with Ifeoma Onumonu sidelined. Is an Energizer bunny in midfield who doesn’t stop running and buzzes around as a ball winner. That’s not to say Comeau can’t provide scoring though, as she showed this season. Nice vision on the ball and has an explosive first step and the pace to play at this level. Crowded field in midfield for the Thorns, but Comeau’s a nice sleeper to stick.
Kelsey Haycook – F – La Salle – Metrics darling who excelled as a target forward and key goalscorer in four seasons for the A10 powerhouse Explorers. Plays the target forward role well, dominating in the air and being able to post up and hold the ball up for teammates to get in the game. Efficiency numbers are off the chart, and she also managed eleven goals against RPI Top 100 teams. Not just good with the ball off her head, a composed finisher with the ball at her feet as well. Doesn’t possess gamebreaking pace but is a pure scorer. Good shot to stick here early and should get paid somewhere to score.
Jazmyne Avant – D – Boston Breakers (Florida) – It’s probably going to be “three strikes, and she’s out” for Avant, who has already started and been released by Portland and Boston through the first two seasons of the NWSL. Last year, Avant was cut adrift midseason despite starting at left-back early for the strugglers. A player who can motor up the line but whose defense leaves much to be desired, Avant may have value as an energy player off the bench. Her pro experience may also give her a leg up going into the new campaign.
Allie Bailey – MF – Texas A&M – The reigning senior Four Factors champion, highlighting efficiency and efficacy in front of goal against top teams. Nine of her ten goals in 2014 were against RPI Top 100 teams, with six of those coming against RPI Top 50 sides. Bailey also scored with roughly one in every five shots while putting nearly sixty percent of her efforts on target. She’ll be a winger at the next level, likely on the left side, where she starred for A&M last season. A sleeper who the metrics say could be much more.
Jordan Day – GK – Texas A&M – Another off the conveyor belt of goalkeeping talent for the Aggies and probably one of their best netminders in their long history. Would’ve been All-America candidate had she not missed a chunk of 2014 through injury. Has great size and athleticism for the position and is a plus level shot stopper. Fearless in the air and has great command of her area while also being quick to spring off her line and into action. #3 here in all likelihood this year and has a great chance of sticking in the league long-term.
Kim DeCesare – F – Duke – Former Boston Breaker draft pick is back stateside after spending time in Sweden with Eskilstuna United. Scoring record with the Swedish club wasn’t exactly sterling, with just two goals in that stint but will hope for better fortunes back in the U.S. Is a big, powerful target forward who likes to bulldoze her way into the box to attack balls and excels in the air. Not too many other dimensions to her game at this level at this point though, and Sarah Hagen basically checks all the same boxes, so DeCesare will probably be fighting for minutes off the bench or plying her trade back overseas.
Molly Dreska – F – Maryland – Employee from Sporting Kansas City of MLS is here for a third straight season. Local status obviously helps out if the club needs an amateur player but faces a steep climb towards a regular roster spot considering club’s numbers in midfield and attack.
Dominique Richardson – MF – Missouri – Back for another go after briefly sticking with Houston last year. Looked like rounding into one of nation’s best central midfielders after a great junior season but hit a wall as a senior. Found a home at defensive midfielder for the Tigers but also packed a little bit of offensive punch as well. Is she big enough (5’6″) to be a holder at this level? Listed at defender on the preseason roster but hard envisioning her on the backline.