(Keep updating this page throughout the afternoon for draft analysis)
LIVE! From the AWK Fortress O’ Doom, it’s Chris’ NWSL Draft reaction and analysis as he inches his way up the league’s official Twitter feed and tries to resist the urge to look at spoilers! It’s the annual tradition where yours truly gleefully questions league general managers’ sanity/logic/stubborn insistence of not following my beliefs of how things should be done. So kick back, enjoy, and stop asking me where I was when this thing actually happened!
I glanced at the previous WPS Drafts to get in the mood again, and boy, some of those were on the crazy train. Remember when Briana Scurry and Brandi Chastain was drafted in the 2009 draft? Remember when the Beat took one player in 2010 that actually ended up playing a game for them? Remember when Philadelphia took the same player two years in a row? Remember when the Beat ended up with Kylie Wright in a draft round that featured Alex Morgan, Sinead Farrelly, Meghan Klingenberg, Christen Press, and Keelin Winters? Sadly, the 2012 WPS Draft ended up being less crazy than all the others and somewhat less fun to cover.
This year looks oh so different though. There’s generally little agreement as to how to rank a lot of the top prospects, and I’m taking the fact that I was basically the only major source of a mock draft as an indicator that nobody generally knows what the hell is going to happen. Well, except for the fact that I’m going to stick my head in an oven if Mewis doesn’t go first. I’m not sure I can handle being wrong on that first pick two years in a row.
1 – Chicago – Zakiya Bywaters – M/F – UCLA
Wait, what? I’d run to the oven if I wasn’t in utter shock.
I don’t think I can quantify how bizarre this is for a first overall pick. I had Bywaters as a potential option in the second round, but taking her with the top pick borders on insanity. She’d be a great complimentary piece for a club with a lot more attacking talent on paper, but I’m just not sure what role she fills for the club so bereft of other attacking options right off the bat. If they wanted a playmaker, Mewis and Nairn were on the board. If they wanted a true finisher, Caroline Miller and Tiffany McCarty were much better options. Bywaters is not going to be a pure playmaker, as if she plays in the midfield, it’s going to have to be on the wing. If she plays as a forward, it’s difficult envisioning her as a 5’1″ center forward, meaning she’s likely going to have to be stationed out wide. Yeah, she scored fifteen goals as a senior, but she also had only scored eight COMBINED in three previous years. The Red Stars had two main functional problems entering this draft: they didn’t have a reliable top level goalscoring threat, and they didn’t have someone to get the forwards the ball. You could argue that they didn’t solve either problem with the first overall pick in the draft. That’s stunning.
2 – Washington – Tiffany McCarty – F – Florida State
OK, that’s no less shocking, but a lot more forgivable considering the club’s needs. Washington entered this draft in some desperate need of some offense after their allocation basically left them with little outlet for goals. The club had local links with almost every top midfielder or forward, but the question was which one would they tab for their first pick? It’s seemingly becoming very clear that clubs are putting a big priority on forwards over playmakers early on based on this evidence. There was little separating the top two forwards, McCarty and Caroline Miller, and the Spirit may have ultimately been more comfortable with the former given her presence on some of the franchise’s W-League teams in their former incarnation. The Seminole star has been a consistent source of goals for the entirety of her collegiate career, though she was a bit more hot and cold this season. She got hot at the right time of year though, going on a tear in the postseason to lift her club to the College Cup semi-finals. On the whole, it’s a solid pick, but you have to wonder how McCarty’s going to get the ball, as the midfield still looks very functional without a playmaker.
3 – FC Kansas City – Kristen Mewis – M/F – Boston College
While FCKC probably would’ve loved for the local AD Franch to fall into their hands, at this point, Mewis is too good of a value to turn down. I don’t think the Midwestern club believed in their wildest dreams that either Mewis or Christine Nairn would fall into their laps with this pick. You could make an argument that grabbing a midfielder that can be a top-notch playmaker is the biggest need facing a very solid Kansas City team right now, and the club appears to have solved it with this selection. Mewis was absolute dynamite for four seasons for the Eagles and had to be considering how inconsistent her attacking allies were for much of her tenure with the club. There might have been some concern that her stock could slip after the club’s early NCAA Tournament exit, but that was hardly at her feet, as the club’s defense was consistently atrocious. Mewis is more than a simple playmaker though, as she can also serve as an auxiliary forward either centrally or out wide, though serving as the club’s #10 will be her likely calling card. This is a fantastic pick on paper and continues a great start to life as a professional team for FC Kansas City.
4 – Sky Blue FC – Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall – D – BYU
This one’s a question of need for me, and I don’t think SBFC really needed a center-back as one of their top priorities going into this draft. Granted, they got the best one on the board by a mile, but you really have to ask yourself who’s going to be the creative force on this club, especially when you consider that Christine Nairn was right there on the board waiting to be taken. As is though, SBFC nabbed themselves an elite level center-back with the upside to break into the full USWNT setup. It’s a pretty good fit stylistically with Christie Rampone already on the club as well, as Lisonbee Cutshall’s strength and size should balance out the back four centrally a bit. The BYU superstar has a full toolkit of ways to stop opponents dead in their tracks, being able to keep up with speedy forwards while outmuscling bigger ones. She’s also a great asset going forward with the ball at her feet and also excels at dead ball situations. It seems clear that Jim Gabarra’s building a defense-first club from this pick, and SBFC should have a great chance of having the best center-back pairing in the league when all is said and done this year.
5 – Boston – Casey Short – D/M – Florida State
This is a fairly sizable gamble on upside. Short could easily end up turning into this draft’s fifth-best player, but this is basically a pick on a season’s evidence at full-back (albeit a great season there). Again, I may sound like a broken record on this, but it seems like most pressing needs have been ignored by a club. While it’s true that Boston did come into this draft with a hole at left-back, they also had a pretty big deficiency further forward for a central playmaker. In a sense though, it might have been a case of the club just not wanting to add another youthful piece into an attack that has tons of them at the moment on paper. The club really needed some size and strength in the middle of both defense and midfield, but there’s not another elite center-back that’d be worth it here, while it’s also probably a round too soon for one of the top defensive midfielders in this class. Short was a quality member of an elite FSU defense last season but also is just a year removed from a serious injury that caused her to miss an entire season. She’s got great upside though and could easily blossom into an elite full-back with more time at the position and will certainly have a great mentor in right-back Heather Mitts. I’d have probably sprung for Kendall Johnson if I were looking for a left-back at this stage, but Short’s fine, though perhaps a round too soon. Honestly, I’m wondering if Boston will regret not taking Nairn if the offense struggles for creativity, though.
6 – Western New York – Adrianna “AD” Franch – GK – Oklahoma State
Well, it’s not exactly rocket science, is it? Team needs starting calibre goalkeeper. Team drafts potentially elite level goalkeeper. There was no doubt whatsoever that, with their goalkeeping situation, the Flash were going to jump all over Franch if she was available at #6. Thankful that FCKC didn’t opt for their local heroine, the Flash probably didn’t take ten seconds to get the card to the draft officials. Akin to Bianca Henninger last season, Franch is a five-star goalkeeping prospect with great size, explosiveness, and command of her area. She was a human highlight reel at Oklahoma State and will likely do much of the same for the perennial pro WoSo champion Flash. WNY filled their most pressing need emphatically, and there’s a good chance this will look like a steal in a few years.
7 – Seattle – Christine Nairn – M – Penn State
I understand that at some point value has to trump need, but boy, if there was one club in this draft that didn’t need another flair player in midfield, it was Seattle. The Reign now have to figure out some way to squash Nairn, Megan Rapinoe, and Teresa Noyola all into the same unit without severely unbalancing the side in the process. While this would seem to indicate that Rapinoe will be stationed on the wing as opposed to being an interior playmaker, is a midfield with Nairn and Noyola going to mesh well? Nairn is a bit more athletic and has more goalscoring talent than the Mexican international, but that still leaves a big question of balance considering the closest thing the club seems to have to a defensive midfielder at this point is Kaylyn Kyle, who is really more of a “connective”, running-type midfielder than a flat-out destroyer, which might be needed now that Nairn and Noyola are both in the same midfield. Really, this team didn’t need another midfielder though, even if not taking Caroline Miller at this spot could serve as a giant vote of confidence towards Amy Rodriguez up top. But seeing one of the top two players on the board fall to you at #7 turned out to be too much for Seattle to resist in the end. They’ll undoubtedly have a very motivated Nairn on their books as well, as I can’t imagine the surprising tumble to the end of the first round didn’t light a fire under the Hermann Trophy finalist.
8 – Portland – Kathryn Williamson – D – Florida
When you end up with the allocation that Portland did, you can afford to take some risks with your picks, and make no mistake about it, Williamson is a major risk given her injury history. But in between missing most of two seasons with knee injuries, Williamson was one of the nation’s top defenders on a consistent basis and is a true top ten talent in this class if you overlook that injury history. An extremely mobile center-back at collegiate level who wasn’t shy about diving into tackles, Williamson’s presence probably indicates a direction in which the club will go with Rachel Buehler on the backline, as playing both at center-back would leave the club woefully short of height in the center of defense. Given Williamson’s pace, she might be the one moving out wide, though she doesn’t have great attacking instincts, as can be evidenced by her non-existent goal total while at Florida. All in all though, Portland needed a defender to help balance out their attack heavy allocation and got a pretty good one if she can stay healthy.
Well, things settled down a bit after the shocking opening to the draft, though there were a few notable reaches with Bywaters (pretty much indefensible) and Short (a little more defensible). Given the seeming lack of attacking depth in this league right now, it’s really puzzling that Caroline Miller hasn’t come off the board yet. Also a bit of a surprise that if Kendall Johnson did declare for the draft she hasn’t been selected. Why do I get the sense that things are going to get stranger from here?
Peeked at my e-mail and discovered Melissa Henderson’s playing with FC Kansas City this year. Yeah, I’m really excited about Mewis teeing up Henderson. Perhaps, they do know what they’re doing…
OK, Chicago, let me try and mentally point you towards Erika Tymrak here…
9 – Chicago – Rachel Quon – D – Stanford
Well, that’s not as bizarre as the first pick, even if it doesn’t really fill the most pressing need for the club right now. A player from Illinois, the local ties obviously help, and the club needs help at full-back for sure. Quon’s easily this class’ best right-back and has been a key member for Stanford’s dominant club over the past four years. She also has experience at left-back, though I’m guessing the Red Stars will keep her at her natural spot on the right flank. As I’ve said before, Quon isn’t Cami Levin, but she’s still a very good full-back who’ll help fortify the defense which may be necessary considering this club could have some severe goalscoring issues.
Hey, it’s another team that could use Erika Tymrak in the midfield…
10 – Washington – Caroline Miller – F – Virginia
So Washington definitely needed forwards, but I’m not sure they needed two of them back-to-back with their first picks considering some of the other needs the club were saddled with in the allocation. Most notably, who the hell is going to get McCarty and Miller the ball up front? Perhaps Miller was just too tantalizing an add from a value standpoint though. The Spirit ends up with the two top-rated forwards on the board, which may look great on paper, but running with a strikeforce of rookies is going to place a lot of pressure on the duo to be consistent from the get-go unless there’s some veteran additions to the frontline. Miller herself is a great pick at this spot though and, like McCarty, proved herself in the crucible that was the ACC. She’s a big-time scorer and like her new teammate also has ties to the local area. If Washington can get her the ball, she might end up being the better of the rookie scoring duo, but that looks like a big ‘if’ at this point.
OK, I don’t think FCKC needs Erika Tymrak. Perhaps a defender?
11 – FC Kansas City – Erika Tymrak – M – Florida
Yeah, this pick hurts my brain. Look, I know at #11, Tymrak is exceptional value, but did you really need that second playmaker with your second pick in this draft? It’s difficult to envision with the club plans to do to squeeze both players into the lineup unless they plan to move Mewis higher up into a pseudo-creator/winger role ala Megan Rapinoe. This really seems like a luxury pick in my mind, and though FCKC has certainly started out well enough, I think they could have fortified the backline a little more before adding another #10. Tymrak herself is a creative genius, potentially the most creative player in this draft. She’s crafty with great technical skill and has exceptional vision. But she’s also slight of frame, isn’t going to be very versatile, and will definitely need protecting from some midfield muscle. It could work out well down the road, but it just seems like an overemphasis on value rather than need at this point.
We’re now into much more murkier territory. I’m expecting to be exasperated on a consistent basis from now on.
12 – Sky Blue FC – Kendall Johnson – D – Portland
Well, there’s the confirmation that Johnson really was in this draft after I was beginning to have an inkling of doubt. This also illuminates some more of what Jim Gabarra may be thinking with his defense. This all but guarantees Kelley O’Hara being deployed in the attack, while also keeping the erratic Melanie Booth on the bench in all likelihood. A backline featuring Johnson, Lisonbee Cutshall, and Rampone already looks top notch on paper, though there are plenty of deficiencies further forward that raise questions. Johnson might have been ranked higher in my eyes had she not come into this draft with a knee injury that cost her all of 2011. She leaves Portland with a year of eligibility on the table, but in a class that was pretty weak on defenders, she’s clearly striking when the iron is hot in terms of her draft stock, which rose again after she proved she was healthy in and in form with the Pilots this year. Johnson really is the embodiment of the modern full-back, composed in defense and fearless going forward. I think we’ll look back on this pick in a few years wondering how in the world Johnson fell this far and how lucky SBFC were to pick up such a talent.
I would’ve ranked Johnson sixth on my big board had I’d known she was entering before compiling it. Basically, my top nine players ranked and ten of my top eleven went in the top twelve…so not bad on my end, I suppose.
13 – Boston – Mariah Nogueira – M – Stanford
Great pick for Boston. They really need a playmaker, but with all of the elite ones off the board, they get around to tightening up the midfield from a defensive standpoint with the class’ best defensive midfielder. Nogueira tackles like a chainsaw and has a shot like a rocket. She’s also got the ability to leap out of the gym and is a very dangerous threat to get on the end of set pieces. I actually like this pick much better than their first one of Casey Short and feel that this could end up being a real steal. Boston needed a defensive stopper in midfield badly after Leslie Osborne’s departure and found a great solution here with Nogueira.
14 – Western New York – Amy Barczuk – D/M – Colorado
Call it a case of need trumping value, though not by much. Barczuk toiled away on some wretched Colorado teams the past four seasons but was a real unheralded gem despite those trials and tribulations. A versatile player with great size who’s comfortable with the ball at her feet, Barczuk grades out as a center-back in my eyes but could conceivably be used as a defensive midfielder if needed as well. The Flash needed a goalkeeper and some size in defense more than anything else coming into this draft and got both with their opening two picks. This is probably a little too early for Barczuk value-wise, but she was the best remaining center-back on the board, and the Flash went aggressive to fill a pressing need.
15 – Seattle – Mallory Schaffer – M/F – William & Mary
After adding yet another piece to the midfield with their opening pick, the Reign try to add some help for Amy Rodriguez up front with the versatile Schaffer. Schaffer was a mid-major star for William & Mary whose stock slipped slightly as her offensive numbers dipped in 2012 after an explosive junior season. There’s no question this helps out with the club’s offensive depth, but with the likes of Tiffany Cameron and Colleen Williams on the board still, this seems like a bit of a reach, even if Williams’ game may not have fit the club’s current personnel.
16 – Portland – Nicolette Radovcic – F – UCF
The first truly baffling reach of the day goes to the Thorns. First of all, this team doesn’t need another striker, certainly not with one of their first two picks in the draft. There are much greater needs in the defense, even with the pick of Williamson, while there are also holes to fill in midfield and in goal with someone to push Karina LeBlanc. Second of all, Radovcic came into this draft with a free agent grade on her, and it wasn’t even close. She was the second best player on a sometimes inconsistent offense though the New Jersey native did have her strongest season yet as a senior. She’s got plenty of workrate and tenacity, but there were much more polished forwards still on the board, while they could have quite easily signed Radovcic as an undrafted free agent after the draft.
My grades based purely on “value” after two rounds:
T1. FC Kansas City
T1. Sky Blue FC
T3. Western New York
Still some great value on the board going into round three, including Tiffany Cameron, Colleen Williams, and Holly King. Will someone get a great steal, or will Chris be left scratching his head?
17 – Chicago – Taylor Vancil – GK – Florida State
Well, that probably seals Chicago’s place at the bottom of the value board. Vancil wasn’t even listed on my big board after what can only be described as a checkered college career. After looking like the next big thing in goal as a youth product, Vancil never ended up developing as a collegian at Louisville and ended up transferring to Florida State for her final two seasons. She couldn’t end up beating out a very vulnerable Kelsey Wys for the starting job for the Seminoles and honestly goes down as something of a recruiting bust, having failed to live up to expectations with either of her collegiate clubs. The Red Stars are gambling big time that they can pull off a successful reclamation project here after passing over much more well rounded and proven keepers. But in a league where carrying two goalkeepers looks to be the norm, it looks a bizarre move. This is the kind of gamble a club with the likes of Hope Solo and Nicole Barnhart as starter can make. For these Red Stars, who have plenty of holes to fill elsewhere and the inconsistent Erin McLeod in goal, it just looks foolish.
18 – Washington – Holly King – M/D – Florida
Along with Western New York taking AD Franch when available with their first pick, this might be the most predictable pick of the afternoon. I’m not really sure where King fits into this midfield, as it’s pretty functional already with Lori Lindsey and Diana Matheson in the middle. But King was a star for the former incarnation of this club in the W-League last season and was also great for Florida as a senior this season. She’s tough in the tackle, experienced in a system that puts a value on possession, and almost indomitable in the air. Might she get tried out at center-back with her size? It’s a tough ask with a fellow rookie there in Alina Garciamendez, but it’s a possibility. It probably didn’t fill a huge need, but it’s still great value at this spot for the Spirit.
19 – FC Kansas City – Whitney Berry – M – Kansas
Well, they can’t all be perfect picks, I suppose. This one just screams of the club grabbing a local player. That’s not to say Berry’s not a very talented player, but she’s pretty much the same player that Mewis and Tymrak are, albeit not anywhere in the same class as those picks. I know I said FCKC needed playmakers, but they also needed some defenders as well, which they’ve left unaddressed to this point. Berry could round into a solid depth player, but it’s tough seeing her crack the lineup given the playmakers ahead of her on the theoretical depth chart.
20 – Sky Blue FC – Ashley Baker – GK – Georgia
What is it with this franchise and picking players who aren’t likely to be able to play for them immediately? Baker’s an England U23 international in contention with being the full WNT’s goalkeeper of the future, but she’s also signed professionally with Lincoln Ladies at last check and would seemingly be in England for a good part of the NWSL season. Even so, there were far more consistent options in goal on the board at this point, and it’s highly unlikely that the club couldn’t have picked her up as an undrafted free agent had they still coveted her.
We’ve clearly hit the part of the draft where I’m going to be banging my head against a wall repeatedly.
21 – Boston – Jo Dragotta – M – Florida
More steel in the middle of the park for the Breakers, who pick up one of the SEC’s top central midfielders in Dragotta. Dragotta formed a fantastic defensive midfield partnership for the Gators along with Holly King and really blossomed late in her career into one of the league’s top midfielders. Her offense really came along as a senior, and Dragotta should also be an asset on set pieces. I think Dragotta will be more of a “connective” midfielder in Boston’s lineup, with Mariah Nogueira alongside her as the destroyer-in-chief. All in all, not a bad pick.
Hey Gator fans, this is the time where I remind you that you had four of the top twenty-one picks in this draft and were eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament three times and once in the Sweet Sixteen. Think about that.
22 – Western New York – Victoria DiMartino – F/D – Boston College
*sigh* Really? Did I wake up at the end of 2010 again? Because that’s the last time DiMartino was actually worthy of a draft spot anywhere near this level. She was an absolute stone cold killer in front of goal for two seasons for Boston College but then proceeded to fall off a cliff for her final two seasons with the ACC club. She scored one goal in the run of play for BC as a senior this past year. One. Goal. What do you do with her at pro level? Try to convert her into a left-back like her youth international days? Hope you can bring the goalscoring touch back out of her after those two horrid seasons? With a roster of twenty players, I just don’t know whether she’s worth the risk, especially with a third round pick.
23 – Seattle – Kristen Meier – M – Wake Forest
Yay! I really like this pick! Even if it does add yet another midfielder onto a really stacked bunch in the middle of the park for the Reign. Meier was always one of those players with Wake who was never going to be privy to the limelight with some of the high value talent around her but who was absolutely invaluable to the club’s recent run of success in the ACC. She never really captured a ton of plaudits at collegiate level but was a steady force offensively, including fifteen assists these past two years and a handful of goals as a senior as well. Probably going to be strictly a reserve from the start but could be key for depth down the line.
24 – Portland – Amber Brooks – M – North Carolina
That’s a very intelligent pick. The Thorns are in the position where they can probably take on more risk than other clubs thanks to their allocation, and Brooks is a great investment, even if it is going to be a real short-term investment this season. I don’t anticipate her playing much in the NWSL if she does make it back during the offseason of the Frauen Bundesliga, but whatever Brooks can provide should be a decent sized bonus for the Thorns. Brooks is a lionhearted battler in the middle of the park with fine long service who’s also a strong presence in the air for her size. If Portland can get any decent sized contribution out of Brooks this season for what would be a short stint, it’ll still be a wise investment at this spot.
My pure “value” ratings after three rounds:
2. FC Kansas City
3. Western New York
7. Sky Blue FC
Why do I get the feeling I’m going to be avoiding an angry pitchfork mob by the end of the night?
25 – Chicago – Jen Hoy – F – Princeton
It’s late, but this was a very savvy pick from the Red Stars. Hoy was immense as a senior, netting eighteen goals in nineteen games in a brilliant final season for an excellent Tiger team. A very efficient forward who isn’t afraid of putting in the hard running needed to defend from the front, Hoy could round into a very serviceable forward for Chicago who might be needed right away up front for the club.
26 – Washington – Colleen Williams – M/F – Dayton
What a great pick. Honestly, on paper, the Spirit have absolutely knocked it out of the park today with their four picks from a value perspective. I’m still a little wary of the club potentially leaning on Matheson as a playmaker for the attack, but they’ve certainly given her no shortage of weapons with the addition of Williams to the pack. I’m guessing with Miller & McCarty already on board, Williams might be tried out as a playmaking attacking midfielder or a super sub forward option off the bench. Whether she can play the post up game that worked so well for her at collegiate level is up in the air, but those numbers at Dayton don’t lie.
To summarize, Washington ended up with four of the top fourteen rated players (if you don’t include Amber Brooks in that mix and do include where I would have rated Kendall Johnson) on the board. That includes three of the top five forwards on my board. I’d be excited Spirit fans.
27 – FC Kansas City – Nia Williams – D – Missouri State
OK, this isn’t actually as big a shock as you might expect on paper. Namely because Williams is the daughter of FCKC assistant coach Huw Williams. Far from being a purely nepotistic pick though, Williams is a very talented player, having won the MVC Defensive Player of the Year award as a senior this past season for Missouri State. Is she big and athletic enough for the next level? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s a low risk addition for a club that didn’t have a bad draft, even if Williams probably could’ve been had as an undrafted free agent.
28 – Sky Blue FC – Becky Kaplan – M/F – Maryland
Versatility’s going to be a big part of who gets picked at this stage of the draft, and Kaplan certainly ticks a lot of those boxes. The Terrapin star played in both attacking and defensive roles in the middle of the park in previous seasons before taking up a forward role this season. She was incredibly efficient in front of goal as well, with twelve goals in fifty-three shots in 2012. Given the above, I’d say she’s got a pretty good shot of sticking for SBFC this year.
29 – Boston – Maddy Evans – M – Penn State
An unheralded but key member of Penn State’s national runner-up squad this season. Capable one the wing or in the middle for the Nittany Lions, Evans helped shield the three player backline in the club’s 3-5-2 this year. Not going to be an offensive dynamo but willing to do all the hard running as well as able to get stuck into opponents with little hesitation. Could be another late round gem for the Breakers.
30 – Western New York – Jackie Logue – D/M – Wake Forest
Great pick. Logue’s a top twenty-five talent who somehow slipped to the end of the fourth round, despite there being a need for full-backs by just about every team out there. A left-back with elite size for the position, Logue, like teammate Kristen Meier, was an often unheralded part of Wake’s rise up the ACC hierarchy the past half-decade. Also capable of playing in midfield in a pinch, Logue offers up a little bit of offense but will likely be more valued for her defensive skill. I wouldn’t be shocked to see her get more starting time this season than you might expect for a fourth rounder.
31 – Seattle – Haley Kopmeyer – GK – Michigan
The Reign need an understudy for Hope Solo and got a pretty good one in the form of Kopmeyer, who was a pillar of strength for the Wolverines the past four seasons. The Michigan keeper has tons of experience in goal and saw her stock soar in 2012 after an impressive senior seasons. I’m not sure she’ll round into a starter, but she could be a quality backup with patience and good coaching.
32 – Portland – Roxanne Barker – GK – Pepperdine
Well…that counts, sort of. Barker’s a South African international, but I think she qualifies as an American citizen having been in the U.S. for high school and college. She played for Banyana Banyana in the Olympics and has been a rising star for Pepperdine in recent years. Capable of some brilliant saves but lacks top flight athleticism and some consistency. Could turn into a creditable backup, but I’m not sure she’ll push LeBlanc for major minutes.
Final pure “value” rankings:
2. Western New York
5. FC Kansas City
7. Sky Blue FC
Obviously, those odd goalkeeping choices really hurt the bottom two in those rankings, but both still had solid picks otherwise for the most part. More analysis to come in the next few days.