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NWSL – Allocation Breakdown, Team Needs, & Potential Draft Targets

posted by All White Kit
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 8:41am EST

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Boston Breakers

What They Got – Firepower. Though Heather O’Reilly is probably considered the anchor player for the Breakers, it’ll be Sydney Leroux that is likely to take upon much of the scoring burden this season. A super sub at international level, Leroux will be counted upon for goals right off the bat. Given the youth around her, she may also have to serve as a mentor to some of the club’s younger forwards. Canadian Adriana Leon and Mexican Anisa Guajardo are both packed with upside, but neither are anything close to a polished product at the moment and may be more apt to a role off the bench early on. O’Reilly should provide energy and endeavor from the flank, with her experience likely to be needed as well in stabilizing a young core.

Mitts returns to Boston after having been displaced by Alex Scott during her earlier stint with the club. She proved she’s still got something in the tank during her days with the Beat and recent run with the USWNT and should be the prohibitive favorite to man the right-back spot despite the presence of Canadian Rhian Wilkinson. Capable of playing in many roles, Wilkinson could be the club’s Swiss army knife in 2013, filling needs wherever they may arise on the pitch. Goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago is talented but still incredibly young and, at best, needs a mentor, and at worst needs some veteran competition between the pipes.

What They Need – The Breakers’ needs aren’t all going to be filled through the draft. For instance, they could probably do without another young keeper with Cecilia Santiago already on the roster. Boston will probably be in the market for a veteran stopper who could, ideally, come in as a starter while Santiago is groomed for the future. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty short list, with the likeliest candidates being Alyssa Naeher, if they can lure her back from Germany, or Val Henderson. Boston probably doesn’t need too many more young strikers as well, with Leroux, Leon, and Guajardo already all on deck.

Getting those forwards the ball looks to be paramount, and while Heather O’Reilly should help out with that in some respects, a true #10 is in order. Kristen Mewis and Christine Nairn are probably too good to pass up if the club gets one of the top picks, while Erika Tymrak wouldn’t be such a bad consolation prize. The Breakers also need some size and strength in the middle of defense, but options there look sparse after the loss of Alina Garciamendez to the allocation process. It’s slim pickings after Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall, and the club could end up taking a flyer on someone in the later rounds. A defensive midfield enforcer is also needed, with Mariah Nogueira and Holly King both solid mid-round targets. A full-back in the later rounds to groom to replace Mitts could also be in order, but it doesn’t seem like the highest priority.

Potential Early Round Targets – Kristen Mewis, Christine Nairn, Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall, Erika Tymrak, Mariah Nogueira, Holly King, Kathryn Williamson, Ally Miller

Potential Late Round Targets – Amy Barczuk, Carson Michalowski, Kylie Louw, Natalie Norris, Bri Rodriguez, Betsy Hassett, Erica Hollenberg, Domenica Hodak, Alex Balcer

Potential Local/Undrafted Free Agent Targets – Victoria DiMartino, Jenna Roncarati, Amelia Pereira, Jillian Kinter, Jessica Morrow

Chicago Red Stars

What They Got – Battle tested legs, for better or for worse. The Red Stars shouldn’t have any worries about being bossed around in midfield given the presence of Shannon Boxx and Keelin Winters in the middle of the park. There’s very little Boxx hasn’t done for club and country, while Winters was one of the brightest rising stars in WPS after being drafted by Boston in 2011. The other allocated American, Amy LePeilbet, should be more comfortable manning the middle of the Red Star defense, though worries about her health have lingered through the offseason.

The international allocations are a mixed bag. Erin McLeod has plenty of professional experience and was first choice for Canada at the Olympics, but she can be frustratingly inconsistent at times and will likely need competition between the pipes. Moscato’s been a mainstay in the Canadian defense, though said rearguard hasn’t always been the most airtight. Dominguez is a real wild card. She looked to be on the downslope of her career after Mexico failed to qualify for the Olympics, but she’ll keep trucking on as her country begins to integrate a new Golden Generation into the mix. Dominguez is unquestionably talented, but she hasn’t played top level club ball in nearly a decade and isn’t going to be able to carry an offense on her back. The other allocated Mexican, midfielder Dinora Garza, has a score of international experience but is still something of an unknown commodity at this level

What They Need – A lot. More specifically though, this team needs some firepower in attack. Anything they can get out of Dominguez would be great, but the club is clearly in need of some youthful legs up front to help ease the pressure on the Mexican. That in mind, the likes of Caroline Miller and Tiffany McCarty could be high on the priority list. Getting the forwards the ball should also be a priority in acquiring players, as the midfield looks extremely functional right now with Winters and Boxx both combative options in the center of midfield. For the sake of balance, the Red Stars badly need a playmaker to help open things further up the pitch, while midfield width also needs to be a consideration depending on how Rory Dames chooses to play. As such, Kristen Mewis and Christine Nairn are certainly possibilities if the club picks high in the order.

It’s not all peachy in defense either. With questions over LePeilbet’s health lingering, the club could use another center-back to help out Moscato if the former Sun Devil misses time through injury. The Red Stars also obviously need full-backs given their allocated defenders both are projected to man the middle of the rearguard. Amy Barczuk and Carson Michalowski could be worth a look late in the draft, while Rachel Quon could be a prime target early at full-back. Given the seeming lack of width in attack as well, the club might find finding some wide defenders even more important to their cause. Grabbing someone to challenge McLeod in goal would also be worth looking into, but given the gaping holes elsewhere, it might not be the biggest priority.

Potential Early Round Targets – Kristen Mewis, Christine Nairn, Caroline Miller, Erika Tymrak, Tiffany McCarty, Rachel Quon, Zakiya Bywaters, Tiffany Cameron, Colleen Williams, Kaitlin Bast

Potential Late Round Targets – Amy Barczuk, Carson Michalowski, Alexa Gaul, Cynthia Jacobo, Natalie Norris, Haley Kopmeyer, Tara Campbell, Erin McNulty, Alex Balcer

Potential Local/Undrafted Free Agent Targets – Lauren Granberg, Natalia Gaitan, Steph Panozzo, Jess Kodiak, Rachel Brown

FC Kansas City

What They Got – Better than most expected in all likelihood. With goalkeeping a big worry for many teams, FCKC ended up with arguably the allocation’s second biggest prize in goal in Nicole Barnhart, whose steadiness should be a major asset for the club in their pro league debut. She should be playing in front of a solid defense as well, with the club having been allocated Becky Sauerbrunn and Lauren Sesselmann as well. Sauerbrunn has steadily developed into a top-notch defender for the USWNT and should be one of the league’s top defenders this season. Sesselmann’s had an unlikely second act to her career after an unimpressive journeyman stint in WPS. Now regarded as one of the Canadian WNT’s top defenders, FCKC will undoubtedly be hoping Sesselmann’s star turn for country carries over to her club form. With crunching Canadian midfielder Desiree Scott ahead of them, the Midwestern club will surely be a favorite to pack one of the league’s meanest defenses in 2013.

All that defensive muscle came with a tradeoff, of course, namely that the club’s options in attack and midfield look somewhat sparse. Lauren Cheney is obviously the offensive anchor of the club, though it’ll be interesting to see how she’s used by head coach Vlatko Andonovski considering the former Boston Breaker’s varied uses for the USWNT. Given the club’s lack of proven firepower now, he may have little choice but to throw her up front to spearhead the formation. The development of Renae Cuellar could help open options up though. The young Mexican international is one of her country’s brightest hopes for the future and will relish having some support after having to carry clubs on her back during her collegiate career. She’s going to need time to develop but has star potential and could end up being one of the league’s new stars in time.

What They Need – Playmakers and full-backs mostly. Scott should handle the dirty work in the middle, but unless the club tries to lean on Cheney as a type of playmaker in the middle, they’re going to need someone to get the ball up to Cheney and Cuellar up front. As is the case with so many teams in this draft, Mewis and Nairn will be appealing targets if FCKC picks early. A “runner” type midfielder might also be of use to the club, though those seem to be in short supply in this year’s draft class. The other pressing need is on the flanks in defense. Sesselmann played full-back for Canada, but honestly, she seems better fit for a center-back role and adds little to the offense at any rate. Sauerbrunn could also theoretically be used out wide, though she’s likely too valuable to move from the middle for the club. Beyond Rachel Quon though, this class lacks elite full-backs, meaning the club might have to look at free agency to fill that gap.

Otherwise, the club could also use some depth in the forward corps. Mallory Schaffer can play both in midfield and attack, while Erica Hollenberg can also be a playmaker. Nadia Link and Tishia Jewell had great strike rates at collegiate level and could also be worth a look late.

Potential Early Round Targets – Kristen Mewis, Christine Nairn, Erika Tymrak, Rachel Quon, Colleen Williams

Potential Late Round Targets – Mallory Schaffer, Nadia Link, Erica Hollenberg, Tishia Jewell

Potential Local/Undrafted Free Agent Targets – Whitney Berry, Megan Marchesano, Whitney Sharpe, Hayley Abbott

Portland Thorns

What They Got – Some seriously envious looks from their rivals. The Thorns somewhat improbably got two of the world’s best forwards in hometown idol Christine Sinclair and USWNT superstar Alex Morgan, immediately making them a likely offensive juggernaut. If that wasn’t disheartening enough for their rivals, Portland also managed some great complementary pieces for that dynamic duo as well. Tobin Heath should provide some necessary creative spark in midfield and should ensure that the Thorns may be one of the few clubs not in desperate need of a creative influence in midfield come draft day. While Heath has often flattered to deceive at club level, Thorns fans will be hoping for a breakout season for the team this year.

Defensively, for all her foibles at USWNT level, Rachel Buehler has remained a steady performer at club level and should be a fine leader on a backline that otherwise has a few questions. Marlene ‘Rubi’ Sanoval and Luz Saucedo certainly aren’t lacking experience, having combined for one hundred sixty-one caps for their country, but how they handle the increased level of competition at this level certainly bears watching. Karina LeBlanc has tons of experience and won no small amount of plaudits during the early days of the WPS but has since lost her starting job to Val Henderson in Philadelphia before an erstwhile emergency stint with MagicJack while also slipping to second choice behind Erin McLeod for Canada. Odds are she’ll be solid, but LeBlanc still likely needs some young competition in goal.

What They Need – Well, they certainly don’t need a frontline striker, that’s for sure. Heath should provide a good deal of creativity in the midfield as well, though given her inconsistency at club level, they might want to try and grab some depth there later on in the draft or in free agency. Midfielders that can stretch the field laterally might be worth looking into, but given the hand they were dealt, a defensive midfielder that can help snuff out attacks is probably one of the club’s top priorities going forward. In that regard, Mariah Nogueira, Holly King, and Ally Miller are appealing targets.

In a broader sense, the club could certainly do with some defensive additions. They got three allocated defenders, but there’s always the chance that Buehler’s USWNT woes could carry over to club level, while neither of the Mexican defenders are a proven commodity at this level despite their experience. Whether Buehler’s deployed out wide or in central defense could well dictate how the Thorns proceed in the draft and in free agency. Given the lack of defensive value in this draft though, the club might want to trade down from an early pick if Lisonbee Cutshall isn’t available. There’s good value later on in defense, with the likes of Amy Barczuk and Carson Michalowski possibilities in the middle, and Casey Short and Jackie Logue options out wide. It’s not a big priority, but the club would probably also like a young goalkeeper to push LeBlanc and to groom for the future. Alexa Gaul, Cynthia Jacobo, and Haley Kopmeyer are among the contenders that could be looked at late.

Potential Early Round Targets – Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall, Rachel Quon, Mariah Nogueira, Zakiya Bywaters, Holly King, Kathryn Williamson, Ally Miller

Potential Late Round Targets – Amy Barczuk, Carson Michalowski, Alexa Gaul, Casey Short, Jackie Logue, Cynthia Jacobo, Natalie Norris, Betsy Hassett, Haley Kopmeyer, Tara Campbell, Domenica Hodak, Erin McNulty, Alex Balcer

Potential Local/Undrafted Free Agent Targets – Scout Libke, Kari Davidson

Seattle Reign

What They Got – The world’s best goalkeeper is a pretty good start. Hope Solo isn’t without injury worries and isn’t a stranger to controversy, but the hometown heroine is without peer when at the top of her game. Besides the strong situation in goal, the Reign also got dealt a great hand in midfield. Though Megan Rapinoe could be abroad until June, once the club has all its pieces together, they could be a dynamo in the middle of the park. It remains to be seen whether Rapinoe will be terrorizing opponents on the wing or pinched in as an interior playmaker, but the University of Portland product will make an impact wherever she’s situated. She’ll surely be keen to overturn a reputation as an underachiever at club level and will be eager to continue in her rich vein of international form. Until Rapinoe returns, much of the creative onus likely falls upon Teresa Noyola, so impressive in college a few years ago and now a well entrenched member of the Mexican WNT. Canadian Kaylyn Kyle will do much of the hard running in midfield and only amplifies the talent in what could be the league’s best midfield on paper.

The front and backlines certainly will need addressing though. The mercurial Amy Rodriguez has been growing increasingly marginalized at international level and will be desperate to rekindle her glowing form with WPS’ Philadelphia to keep her spot on the USWNT. Depending solely on Rodriguez to lead the line is a risky move though, even if she figures to get great service. Emily Zurrer shined at youth level for Canada but has been up and down at international level and will be looking to finally make her mark in North America in the Reign’s defense, while Mexico’s Jenny Ruiz has collegiate and Summer league experience in the U.S. but also is something of an unknown commodity at this level.

What They Need – It’s really simple for Seattle, much more simple than many of their brethren in the NWSL at the moment: They need defenders and forwards. Preferably, they’d get a big target forward to play off of Rodriguez’s pace up front, but that’s not the strength of this draft, so they may just have to hope they can shoehorn in Caroline Miller or Tiffany McCarty. Colleen Williams operated like a pseudo-target forward at Dayton but may not have the size to do that at this level. Zakiya Bywaters is an intriguing option as well, as a lineup with Bywaters and Rapinoe on the flanks could be pure dynamite.

This draft isn’t exactly rife with great defenders, so it’s critical the club ends up with one of the likes of Rachel Quon, Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall, or Kathryn Williamson if they don’t want to be rolling the dice later on. Given the club’s a little better off centrally with Zurrer in the mix, Quon might be the weapon of choice late in the first round. It’s being a little picky, but if Seattle can afford it, they may want to invest in a late round goalkeeper to groom as a long-term option behind Solo as well as a midfield enforcer to help add a little more steel to the middle of the park.

Potential Early Round Targets – Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall, Caroline Miller, Tiffany McCarty, Rachel Quon, Zakiya Bywaters, Tiffany Cameron, Colleen Williams, Kathryn Williamson, Kaitlin Bast

Potential Late Round Targets – Amy Barczuk, Carson Michalowski, Casey Short, Jackie Logue, Mallory Schaffer, Nadia Link, Natalie Norris, Tishia Jewell, Alex Balcer

Potential Local/Undrafted Free Agent Targets – Lucretia Lee, Tiana Brockway, Kari Davidson, Brandi Vega

Sky Blue FC

What They Got – Defenders here, there, and everywhere. The obvious anchor is the ageless Christie Rampone, who shows no sign of slowing down despite her increasing years and still looks like a world class defender for the USWNT. The consummate leader on and off the pitch, Rampone’s experience will be crucial for a club that could be in a bit of flux on the defensive end around her. Kelley O’Hara has been a constant at left-back in recent months for the USWNT, but there’s no guarantees she stays there given her history at club level as an attacker. Complicating matters for head coach Jim Gabarra is the fact that the club was allocated another left-back, Canadian Melanie Booth. Booth has often been on the fringes of the Canadian WNT, but her presence could allow O’Hara to move further up the pitch to help out a needy looking offense right now. Jill Loyden will finally get a chance to sign as the prohibitive starter in goal for the club going into 2013. Whether she’s the elite keeper the club likely needs to contend is certainly up for debate though, and the club will likely have an eye on someone who can provide legitimate competition going forward this year. Shielding the back four in all likelihood will be Canadian youngster Sophie Schmidt, already one of her nation’s top talents. Far from being a pure destroyer though, Schmidt can contribute offensively as well, and her goals may be needed given some of the club’s seeming offensive shortcomings.

Those shortcomings look severe on paper, even if O’Hara does move into the attack. The former Hermann Trophy winner certainly has attacking talent, but it’s doubtful that she can carry an offense on her back and best works as a complimentary attacking option. The only other recognized striker in the allocation to SBFC was Mexican veteran Monica Ocampo. While Ocampo certainly knows where the goal is, she’s not going to be winning too many footraces against swift defenders and isn’t going to thrive without service, be it from the midfield or other forwards. Young midfielder Nayeli Rangel was the other allocation to the club and is one of her nation’s brightest young talents. While she can pull the strings on her day, she’s still a very young player, and the club will want further options for playmakers.

What They Need – Offense, offense, offense. Even if O’Hara shines after getting thrown up front and Ocampo works out, the club is still going to need someone to get them the ball, meaning there’s a good chance that first round pick is going to be spent on a playmaker. Kristen Mewis and Christine Nairn are no-brainers if SBFC gets an early pick, while Erika Tymrak could work if they don’t. They could use with forwards too, though it’s clearly second on the priorities list at this point. Caroline Miller and Tiffany McCarty probably won’t be on the board if the playmaker spot is addressed first, meaning they may have to look towards the likes of Zakiya Bywaters, Tiffany Cameron, and Colleen Williams to fill that hole.

Later on, the club could use some defensive depth and goalkeeping competition. Amy Barczuk and Carson Michalowski would add needed size at center-back, but it’s slim pickings at right-back after Rachel Quon, meaning they might be more apt to go the free agent route to fill that hole. Goalkeeping wise, there are a deluge of potential backups to go with, so there’s really no reason for the club to not use one of their later picks on a netminder for cover for Loyden.

Potential Early Round Targets – Kristen Mewis, Christine Nairn, Caroline Miller, Erika Tymrak, Tiffany McCarty, Zakiya Bywaters, Tiffany Cameron, Colleen Williams, Kaitlin Bast

Potential Late Round Targets – Amy Barczuk, Carson Michalowski, Alexa Gaul, Casey Short, Jackie Logue, Cynthia Jacobo, Natalie Norris, Haley Kopmeyer, Tara Campbell, Erin McNulty, Alex Balcer

Potential Local/Undrafted Free Agent Targets – Shannon Woeller, Jen Hoy, Nicolette Radovcic, Adelaide Gay, Alison Nabatoff

Washington Spirit

What They Got – What they wanted or some headaches depending on who you believe. Former Washington Freedom player Ali Krieger’s homecoming will be a big boost for the club, with the former Penn State star now healthy again after a serious knee injury. Defense looks to be a strong suit for the club, though the club was allocated a second right-back in the form of Canadian Robyn Gayle. How head coach Mike Jorden juggles the situation could be crucial. The club got a steal with their allocation pickup of Alina Garciamendez, one of the best center-backs from this club who could be the heart of the defense for a long time to come. Ashlyn Harris is a solid addition in goal, but the contract wrangling with Duisburg in Germany could keep her out of action for a little while. Free agency might be the desirable route, considering the club likely doesn’t want to stick a late-round rookie in a starting role for an extended period of time.

There’s a whole lot of hustle in midfield, with Lori Lindsey and Diana Matheson set to run opposing teams into the ground. Lindsey’s been increasingly on the fringes of the USWNT but has experience in D.C. earlier in her career and was a strong contributor for much of her tenure with Philadelphia in WPS. Matheson’s long been a gem in midfield for Canada, and despite her lack of size, could be an early lynchpin in the middle of the park for the Spirit. Lacking a true playmaker or defensive midfielder though, the club might need to spring for some of those late, but…

What They Need – Someone who can put the ball in the back of the net, obviously. Getting allocated zero forwards tends to require some serious scrambling for attacking options. Though getting a chance to draft either Kristen Mewis or Christine Nairn would be too good to pass up in all likelihood, the Spirit should be dead set on grabbing either Caroline Miller or Tiffany McCarty in the first round. Then again, with zero forwards on the roster right now, they might need multiple options in that department early on in this draft.

Getting a left-back probably is in order as well, with Casey Short and Jackie Logue great options a little deeper in the order. The club also probably needs a veteran center-back to work with, as they already have a rookie in Garciamendez pencilled into one of the spots. Getting a backup they’d be comfortable with sticking in right away would be a plus, though as stated above, an experienced option might be more desirable this year. Grabbing a true enforcer like Betsy Hassett or Domenica Hodak in the later rounds would be a luxury considering some of this team’s needs, but they could be appealing options depending on how everything shakes out.

Potential Early Round Targets – Kristen Mewis, Christine Nairn, Caroline Miller, Erika Tymrak, Tiffany McCarty, Zakiya Bywaters, Tiffany Cameron, Colleen Williams, Kaitlin Bast

Potential Late Round Targets – Alexa Gaul, Casey Short, Jackie Logue, Cynthia Jacobo, Betsy Hassett, Haley Kopmeyer, Tara Campbell, Domenica Hodak, Erin McNulty

Potential Local/Undrafted Free Agent Targets – Cortlyn Bristol, Becky Kaplan, Alison Nabatoff, Nichole Schiro

WNY Flash

What They Got – Well, they got Abby Wambach for starters. The newly crowned FIFA Player of the Year keeps on scoring and should have no shortage of motivation playing in front of her home fans. Considering the team was the unlucky one to be allocated just six players, they desperately needed a talent like Wambach to help make up that gap. The allocation for WNY looks heavily tilted towards offense, with internationals Veronica Perez and Jodi-Ann Robinson also set to contribute in the attack. Perez scored arguably the biggest goal in Mexico WNT history in 2010 CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers against the U.S. and looks like one of her nation’s fixtures for the future. Robinson has over a half-century of caps, though she’s still an unfinished product at this level. Goals are also bound to come from midfield, with attacking midfielder Carli Lloyd having enjoyed a rich vein of form on the international stage in recent years.

It’s slim pickings defensively though. Right-back Bry McCarthy looks like a budding star for Canada, but she’s obviously going to need some help beside her on the backline. There are even more pressing needs in goal, where the club received the short straw in goalkeeper allocations, getting Mexican backup Pamela Tajonar, though the Flash keeper should be familiar to the club having played with them in their earlier days before joining the WPS.

What They Need – Almost the polar opposite of what Washington needs. The Flash look talented in attack but need a whole lot of defenders, be it through free agency or the draft. That looks better achieved through the former though, as the crop of top defenders was reduced with McCarthy and Alina Garciamendez’s allocations. Still, the club is in desperate need of some center-backs and a left-back, though they’ll also be looking for experience and someone to be the general of what could be an otherwise young backline. The other pressing need is obviously in goal, where going into the season with a goalkeeper who was beaten out by a teenager for a starting job (even at international level) doesn’t seem like the greatest idea.

A little further up the pitch, the club could do with a defensive midfielder to help balance out the midfield given Lloyd’s presence as an attacking midfielder. Though the upper reaches of this draft class are populated by a good number of playmaking midfielders, how they’d be compatible with Lloyd is certainly a question worth asking before committing a pick to such a player. On the whole, grabbing a “runner” type midfielder with one of the club’s later picks seems like a wiser course of action. It’s not a big priority, but the club could also use some pace up front to help vary the offense up in the face of having Wambach’s powerful presence spearheading the line.

Potential Early Round Targets – Adrianna Franch, Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall, Rachel Quon, Mariah Nogueira, Holly King, Kathryn Williamson, Ally Miller

Potential Late Round Targets – Mallory Schaffer, Nadia Link, Tishia Jewell

Potential Local/Undrafted Free Agent Targets – Jen Hoy, Lexi Marton, Alyscha Mottershead, Becky Kaplan, Jillian Kinter

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