NWSL – Preseason Dossiers – Sky Blue FC

Sky Blue FC

Projected 2013 Sky Blue FC Starting Lineup

Free Agency

Danesha Adams – F

Well traveled forward was a budding star at both youth and college levels, combining a productive stint with UCLA with great success at U20 level for the U.S. Found professional level much harder post-UCLA though, doing very little of note with Chicago in one season before moving to Philadelphia. Wasn’t exactly prolific with the Independence but did score some big goals for the club in her two years there. Following the dissolution of the league, Adams has had reasonable success in both Norway and Sweden, most recently with Vittsjo. With questionable proven firepower on the frontline, Adams should have every chance to nail down a starting spot this year, and her production could be crucial for SBFC’s postseason aspirations.

Brittany Bock – M

Notre Dame alum has played in just about every corner of the country in a career that has seen her bounce from the heartland as a collegian to both coasts as a pro. Made a name for herself as a rookie in WPS with finalists Los Angeles before going on to collect a winner’s medal with WNY Flash in the league’s final season in 2011. Bock would play in Colorado for the Rush club in the W-League last year before a stint in Sweden. One of the league’s most versatile players, Bock can do a job at the heart of a defense or up top as a target forward, though her most likely role could be as SBFC’s defensive midfielder, shielding the defense and giving some protection to the club’s smaller playmakers. A big season for Jim Gabarra’s side could mean a long awaited recall to the full USWNT setup.

Lisa De Vanna – F

Australian can’t keep her name out of the headlines, for better or for worse, with a FFA suspension coming this past Winter after creating a furor with some incendiary comments on Twitter. Jim Gabarra will be hoping that his former charge from his days with the Washington Freedom is making headlines on the pitch this season as an important member of the club’s likely frontline. De Vanna exploded onto the scene in Sweden with AIK a half decade ago and has been a dangerous threat ever since in her homeland, the aforementioned Sweden, and the U.S. Likely to feature on the right wing for SBFC and may need to be a consistent performer on offense for the New Jersey club to challenge for the postseason places this season.

Manya Makoski – D

A bright, shining example of the power of persistence. Suffered a severe knee injury before the 2010 season with Atlanta that threatened to curtail her career but rebounded in some style in Europe. Was a goalscoring terror in Iceland and then Finland in 2011 and 2012, more than earning another shot at this level with SBFC. Looked likely to be the club’s starting right-back before the signing of Caitlin Foord, but said acquisition could free Makoski up to fill other holes as needed for the New Jersey club. Goalscoring prowess might make her an interesting alternative for Lisa De Vanna on the right wing, while her attacking thrust could also be useful in the middle of the park, either right from the start or as a much needed super sub for the club.

Supplemental Draft

5. Katy Frierson – M

Jim Gabarra’s side certainly didn’t hesitate in snapping up Frierson, who was surprisingly not signed as a free agent by a club after a strong rookie season in WNY Flash’s title winning effort in last year’s WPSL Elite campaign. One of the SEC’s best ever players at Auburn for four seasons, Frierson brought her playmaking skills to the next level and showed her flair for occasion with two brilliant showings in the WPSL Elite playoffs to help lead the Flash to another top-level title. Slight frame shouldn’t be as much of a problem with SBFC, as likely starting midfield partners Sophie Schmidt and Brittany Bock have enough muscle to ensure Frierson has a chance to roam forward and cause problems for opposing defenses. Can strike a ball with precision and could also be a dead ball specialist for SBFC this year.

13. Brittany Cameron – GK

Backup goalkeeper emeritus for the past half decade in the pro and semi-pro ranks, Cameron looked poised to take up that mantle this year for SBFC before Jillian Loyden’s broken hand. Cameron picked up winner’s medals with FC Gold Pride and WNY Flash in WPS in that understudy role and looked set to take over as starter for the latter last year in WPSL Elite but missed time with a broken jaw suffered in the regular season. Cameron was a natural fit to be drafted to SBFC given her assistant coaching job with Dartmouth, with the pick looking like an astute piece of business after Loyden’s injury. Will again be looking to prove herself this year with a long desired shot as a club’s #1 in between the pipes, even it probably is only until Loyden returns.

21. CoCo Goodson – D

Former All-American at UC Irvine was a star at college level for the Anteaters with her thundering drives from distance and impeccable ability in the air for UCI as the program rose in stature. After WPS’ collapse, Goodson landed on her feet in Holland with powerhouse club FC Twente and has been a rock at the heart of the defense for the Dutch side ever since. Getting the towering center-back on the roster was a shrewd move for the New Jersey club, and Goodson should be right in the mix for a starting spot on the backline for SBFC. Goodson’s size and prowess in the air also make her an intriguing target forward if the club needs to switch gears up front.

29. Meghan Lenczyk – F

Big forward was a dangerous if somewhat inconsistent presence in college with Virginia but showed some sparks of talent in a WPS stint with Atlanta despite not getting a whole lot of service up top. Caught on with New York Fury in WPSL Elite last season, though she hardly pulled up trees for the often offensively challenged club. Something of an astute supplemental draft pick considering her size and the relative lack of it on SBFC, but early indications are that Lenczyk isn’t interested in joining up with the club for the 2013 season.

37. Kandace Wilson – D/F

Versatile option in both defense and attack recovered from a devastating hip injury in 2009 to take home winner’s medals with FC Gold Pride in 2010 and WNY Flash in 2011 in WPS. Clearly looked to be on the downside of her career in her stint in Rochester though, having not been able to crack the starting lineup with any great degree of consistency. Would’ve likely contended for a starting spot in defense on a young backline or served as a valuable option in either defense or attack from the bench but is not expected to suit up for SBFC this season according to early reports.

45. Allison Falk – D

The fact that Falk, a former finalist for WPS Defender of the Year honors, was chosen this late should probably give you some indication as to the chances of her suiting up for SBFC this year. Considering Falk was a dominant defender back with both Los Angeles and Philadelphia in the heyday of WPS, the flyer Jim Gabarra and co. took certainly seems warranted. But Falk was also plagued by injuries late in her Philadelphia stint and hasn’t played at a top level in two years and doesn’t appear interested in a comeback this season either.

Discovery Players

Caitlin Foord – D/M/F

SBFC scored a massive coup by unveiling Foord as their first discovery player, bringing the Australian to the NWSL after many had figured she’d land in the collegiate ranks in the U.S. Foord, who won the Young Player of the Tournament award at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, looks like having the potential of being one of the best players of this generation for an Australian side on the rise in the worldwide hierarchy. A modern full-back in every sense of the word, Foord is ambitious with her forays forward but has the pace and tenacity to defend as a right-back as well. While she can also serve as a right-winger, Foord figures to get every shot to hold down the starting spot at right-back this year for SBFC. Though she will almost assuredly be the league’s youngest player this year, Foord has talent beyond her years and could become a crowd favorite for her club as a rookie and could be a key to the team’s success this year.

Taylor Lytle – M

At college level, a prime example of how one gifted player can help turn an entire program around. A key part of the revolution that turned Texas Tech from college soccer wasteland to rising force, Lytle was a dynamic force in midfield for the Red Raiders despite missing her true freshman season with a serious knee injury. Through two seasons, Lytle looked set to become one of the nation’s best in the middle of the park, but injuries and a downturn in form as a senior sapped some of the momentum from her cause. Lytle would still earn a spot on a preseason tour of Japan for SBFC in 2012 and apparently did enough to earn an invite for the inaugural NWSL season. A U23 international who can both create for forwards and go directly for goal herself, Lytle figures to push Katy Frierson for time in the midfield as the club’s offensive orchestrator this season.

What They Still Need

Besides keeping their goalkeepers in bubble wrap? Not much from a starting lineup perspective. The first XI pretty much picks itself, which could be considered a good or bad thing, depending on your viewpoint. While Jim Gabarra probably doesn’t have any real holes in that starting group, squad depth could be a concern, as at least half of the club’s supplemental draft picks don’t look likely to suit up for SBFC this season. Besides Rampone, the club’s likely starting back four is extremely young. A few more veteran heads on the backline certainly wouldn’t hurt the team’s cause.

Depth could also be an issue further up the field. The midfield is very talented, potentially one of the league’s best, but there’s no experienced depth there, with the cover likely coming in the form of rookies Nayeli Rangel and Becky Kaplan. The frontline has a fair amount of experience on it, but none of the three likely starters and top reserve Monica Ocampo have proven to be consistent scorers at this level, which could be problematic as far as consistency is concerned. Another point of concern could be the club’s lack of size up front, with the tallest forward on the team being 5’6″ Danesha Adams. Unless the club can find a target forward in preseason, it might be up to Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall or Brittany Bock to play the role of big striker up top if Gabarra needs a Plan B chasing a game late.

5 thoughts on “NWSL – Preseason Dossiers – Sky Blue FC

  1. sec

    Is O’Hara really going to play on the front line? She’s going to play 20-something professional matches as a forward, and then periodically return to USWNT as an outside back? That makes no sense for her own career, or for the USWNT (for which the NSWL was formed, at least in part). She still has so much to learn as a fullback, and needs to play there, week after week. And Sky Blue would be better served with her as a fullback, because she’s a better (more effective) player in that position. I’m aware of her resume at Stanford, but her future (and present) is not playing forward for her club or the USWNT.

    Anyway, if Chris’s projected starting IX holds true, this team is going to have major difficulty scoring goals (no matter where O’Hara lines up). However, they look to have a good defense, and I hope this season provides the younger defensive players — Johnson, Lisonbee Cutshall, and Bock — a real opportunity to grow and improve.

    Reply
    1. Chris Henderson Post author

      I just don’t see O’Hara at left-back since they drafted Kendall Johnson. I guess theoretically they could play 4-4-2 with Johnson as a left midfielder and O’Hara at left back, but the formation doesn’t really suit the players the club has.

      Reply
  2. Anon

    It is obvious that it would benefit KO to learn the nuances of playing left back. However, I don’t think it is right for the USSF to step in and say “you have to play her at left back”. Yes, the NWSL was formed partly for the USWNT, but that is far from the only reason. The NWSL is a league like any other. The teams are supposed to try their best to win. If Sky Blue believes it is better off with KO in the attack, so be it.

    I do wonder though, if all parties would be better off with a trade somewhere.

    Reply
  3. John

    Ah, the uncharted waters of funded allocation. What are the federations paying for? The possibility that their players will play or for guaranteed starts. Canada and Mexico have to be asking that question even more than USSF. USSF can say they went f/ name recognition to help NWSL, but it appears they funded 5 players no longer in the national team pool (Mitts, Lindsey, LePeilbet [post injury], A Rod [post birth] and Winters). Should players in the pool be funded to compete in overseas leagues? Many have/are developing quite nicely yonder. Mexico has the situation of Garciamendez-what’s the lesson going forward f/ federations there? If you’re a club coach how to you see your role. Are you creating a true competitive environment or are you sending out the players most fans know, or following a NWSL/federation agreement? All questions aside we all have to get out and support this somewhat flawed league.

    Reply
  4. sue Becker

    Correction needed= Sky Blue Brittany Cameron did not break her jaw last season but bones around her eye. She missed 2 games and then continued as a starter eventually winning and playing in and winning as the keeper in the Championship for Western New York Flash WPSL.

    Reply

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