Monthly Archives: November 2015

Requiem for the W-League

The New Jersey Wildcats were the W-League team to beat in the mid-2000s. This is the 2005 championship team. Recognize some familiar faces?

The New Jersey Wildcats were the W-League team to beat in the mid-2000s. This is the 2005 championship team. Recognize some familiar faces?

Where would we be without the W-League? Morgan Brian, Lori Chalupny, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Amy Rodriguez. Those are the only players on the world champion US National Team who never played in the W-League. Everyone else – from Carli Lloyd to Becky Sauerbrunn to Abby Wambach – honed their craft at that level before moving on up. (26 additional players for Canada and Mexico’s WWC teams also had W-League experience.)

The W-League was founded in 1995 with 19 teams from the Boston Tornado to the San Diego Lady Top Guns, with two teams folding during the course of the season. Despite several west coast teams leaving after the 1997 season to form the WPSL, the league grew to the point where by 1998 it had 34 teams in two levels. The two-table setup continued through 2001, when the league had 38 teams.

The league took a hit in 2001, when the WUSA formed and gave the best women players the opportunity to play professionally. Of the 120 players in the initial draft, at least 37 had played previously in the W-League. As for the Founders – the 24 players who formed the core of the league, based on the team that won the 1999 Women’s World Cup – at least a third had played in the W-League, including Kristine Lilly, Cindy Parlow, Tracy Ducar, Sara Whalen, Christie Rampone, Danielle Fotopoulos, Tisha Venturini, and Siri Mullinix.
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NWSL – Chris’ Quick Mock Orlando Pride Expansion Draft

Whipped this up in about fifteen minutes, but here you go…

1 – WSH – Ashlyn Harris – GK

Why exactly the Spirit are letting Harris walk without compensation is an absolute puzzler, but all signs point towards the Pride picking the USWNT’s #2 up to fill the void at starting goalkeeper. They’ll, of course, need good cover since Harris is likely to be with the U.S. at next year’s Olympics. Harris has played behind some shambolic defenses in her time with the Spirit, which should provide good practice considering the Pride aren’t likely to possess an airtight defense in their first year of existence.

2 – SEA – Meghan Klingenberg – D

The Pride are expected to ship this pick right to Portland. It should at least allow Seattle to keep the core of their team intact as they can’t lose another player in this draft. Klingenberg would probably shift to right-back if Steph Catley stays in Portland and move to left-back if the Australian departs. She should, at the very least, be a major upgrade to the Thorns’ defense.

3 – CHI – Taryn Hemmings – D

(Chicago protects GK Michelle Dalton.)

It’s tempting for the Pride to pick up Dalton as Harris’ understudy, but Hemmings was one of Chicago’s unsung heroes during their excellent 2015 campaign. Capable of playing in the center of defense or out wide, Hemmings should also provide some much needed veteran leadership to a squad that figures to have a good deal of youth on it in 2016.

4 – POR – Lianne Sanderson – F/MF

(Portland protects MF Meleana Shim.)

This one seems to be churning through the rumor mill as of late. If Sanderson is willing to stay in the U.S. this seems like an absolute no-brainer. Sanderson is in the prime of her career and could provide an invaluable spark to the attack when the likes of Alex Morgan are gone for the Olympics. Capable in an attacking midfield or forward role, Sanderson’s another battle tested player at this level who will be counted upon to be a big factor right away if she comes to the Pride.

5 – FCKC – Frances Silva – F

(FC Kansas City protects the rights to MF Jenna Richmond.)

Silva has looked like a player waiting for a chance to bust out as a full-time starter. She hasn’t had such a chance in an understandably crowded frontline for FCKC but has two rings and has had some great moments for the two-time champs. She’d probably be an immediate factor on the wing for Orlando and could develop into a solid starter in the league for the Pride.
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