By DAN LAULETTA
Now that the 2010 Women's Professional Soccer draft is in the rear-view mirror, clubs can sew up their final international deals and set their sights on training camp ahead of the upcoming season. Before they do, let’s take a look at how all nine WPS teams fared on draft day. Keep in mind that no draft can be completely analyzed for many years and that what follows are mere opinions.
FC Gold Pride (A)
Kelley O’Hara figures to be the perfect compliment for Christine Sinclair and Ali Riley is a speedy outside back capable of joining the attack. That pair should help FC Gold Pride see immediate dividends from their first round. Later picks such as defender Becky Edwards and goalkeeper Erin Guthrie provide much-needed depth. Combine them all with recent trade acquisition Camille Abily and FC Gold Pride has enjoyed a fruitful offseason.
Los Angeles Sol (A-)
Five years from now we may well look back and say the Sol were the ultimate winners of the 2010 draft. For now they will have to be patient. No. 5 overall Nikki Washington and No. 14 overall Michelle Enyeart are both recovering from knee injuries. Washington could be ready for the season while Enyeart has June or July circled on her calendar. That leaves Casey Nogueira as the immediate centerpiece of their draft. Nogueira slumped for parts of her senior year at North Carolina but has a flare for the dramatic like few others.
Washington Freedom (B+)
Jim Gabarra wanted to improve defensively and got a jewel right off the bat, Colorado’s Nikki Marshall at No. 7 overall. Getting North Carolina defender Kristi Eveland at No. 36 was a coup and Lauren Robertson will provide key goalkeeping depth. Freedom stayed away from forwards though so it will be important for Abby Wambach and Lisa De Vanna to pick up where they left off in ’09. Carly Dobratz was a strong pick at No. 18.
Atlanta Beat (B)
Wound up with the player most likely to make an immediate impact when they took Tobin Heath with the top pick. South Carolina defender Blakely Mattern could wind up being a pleasant surprise and Gareth O’Sullivan used most of his back end picks on players capable of filling the back of the net. Internationals aside that appears to be the Beat’s weak point heading to camp.
Boston Breakers (B)
The 2009 Breakers struggled to finish and took an immediate stride to rectify that by taking Lauren Cheney at No. 2 overall. Head coach Tony DiCicco said the opinions he solicited were unanimous that Cheney was the best forward available. The Breakers then filled two more needs by making Alyssa Naeher the first goalkeeper off the board and later grabbing Santa Clara back Jordan Angeli. Gina DiMartino’s stock fell off some during her senior season, but who thought she would be there for DiCicco at No. 56? She could be the steal of the lower rounds.
Chicago Red Stars (B-)
The Red Stars were the anomaly of the league in 2009. Emma Hayes correctly went with defense when she took UNC’s Whitney Engen at No. 4, even though the club’s eclectic mix of attacking talent failed to produce even a goal per game last season. Second round pick and Engen’s college teammate Jessica McDonald could help rectify that. Losing Caroline Jonsson on the eve of the draft forced their hand to take a keeper at No. 24, but they wound up with a quality one in Kelsey Davis.
Sky Blue FC (B-)
The league champions had only two of the first 26 picks, but made good on both taking versatile Brittany Taylor at No. 6 and Penn State product Katie Schoepfer at No. 26. Taylor figures to help defensively while Schoepfer could be of use in the goal-scoring department—despite the title run, it should not be forgotten that Sky Blue FC notched just 19 goals in 20 regular season matches. Taylor is currently participating in a National Team camp which can only aid her transition to WPS. A late day trade brought the rights to Jennifer Anzivino, who grew up less than an hour from Yurcak Field in Middletown, NJ and played her college ball there for Rutgers.
Philadelphia Independence (C)
The Independence had the worst day of any team at the draft, but this grade comes with the caveat that the club used its glut of picks to acquire veteran players Amy Rodriguez, Allison Falk, and Val Henderson. That trio will help tell the tale of the day as much as any of their five picks (the rights to a sixth pick were traded). They had only one pick in the top 30 and veered slightly off the beaten path by going with LSU midfielder Malorie Rutledge. Taking Dani Collins made for a nice story, but they could just as easily have invited her to training camp and used the pick on someone else.
Saint Louis Athletica (D)
The last team to pick when it was finally their turn at No. 17, Athletica spent the day bolstering their attacking presence. Kristina Larsen and Veronica Perez will vie to be a suitable partner up top for Eniola Aluko. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris will have her work cut out for her playing behind Hope Solo but is undeniably good enough to play professionally.