June 9, 2009

WPS Draft Revisited-FC Gold Pride

For the second installment on the 2009 WPS draft, we'll take a look at FC Gold Pride.

Who They Drafted
1st round (#3)-Christina DiMartino, UCLA; 2nd round (#12)-Carrie Dew, Notre Dame; 3rd round (#17)-Tiffany Weimer, Penn State; 4th round (#26)-Marisa Abegg, Stanford; 5th round (#31)-Ameera Abdullah, Florida; 6th round (#40)-Leigh Ann Robinson, San Diego; 7th round (#45)-Brandi Chastain, Santa Clara; 8th round (#54)-Allison Whitworth, Auburn; 9th round (#59)-Alissa Oldenkamp, Arizona State; 10th round (#68)-Stacie Alberico, San Jose State.

FC Gold Pride started by taking two young players, both with extensive experience on the US Junior National Teams, with DiMartino and Dew. They followed that by taking the 2nd oldest player taken in the first three rounds and one with international club experience, Tiffany Weimer. In later rounds, they took two of the oldest players drafted, Brandi Chastain and Stacie Alberico. There doesn't seem to be any preference as to age, geographic area, or position. Although Gold Pride did pick several players from the traditional west coast powers, they also looked east for a few of their picks.

Current WPS Status
For FC Gold Pride, 7 of their 10 draft picks are still on the roster, 3 were released.

Full time starters (4)-DiMartino, Dew, Weimer, Robinson.
Part time starters & other full roster players (2)-Chastain, Whitworth.
Developmental players (1)-Abegg.
Released (3)-Abdullah, Oldenkamp, Alberico.

What They've Done
DiMartino-9 G, 9 GS, 774 Min, 9 shots, 4 SOG
Dew-8 G, 8 GS, 638 Min, 1 goal, 2 points, 4 shots, 2 SOG
Weimer-10 G, 8 GS, 583 Min, 1 goal, 3 assists, 5 points, 14 shots, 5 SOG
Robinson-10 G, 8 GS, 705 Min, 1 goal, 2 points, 3 shots, 2 SOG
Abegg-2 G, 1 GS, 126 Min
Chastain-3 G, 53 Min, 2 shots

Whitworth-1 G, 1 GS, 90 Min, 6 saves, 2.00 GA

Total Offensive Output-42 G, 34 GS, 2879 Min, 3 goals, 3 assists, 9 points, 32 shots, 13 SOG.
Total Goalkeeper Output-1 G, 1 GS, 90 Min, 6 saves, 2.00 GA.

G=Games; GS=Games Started; Min=Minutes; SOG=Shots on Goal; GA=Goals Against Average.

The Players

Christina DiMartino-Though often overshadowed by her midfield teammates, DiMartino has played well for FC Gold Pride. In the game I saw her play in person, there were periods where she seemed to be all over the field. She maneuvers well in tight space and is good at distributing the ball. She is probably the best young player in the league with the ball at her feet. Her size prevents her from being a force in the air and she can be muscled off the ball on occasion, but her quick feet can also dispossess opponents. Her skills probably fit Gold Pride as well as any team in the league as they concentrate on passing and possession. I don't know if she will ever be a great player, but she can be very, very good.

Carrie Dew-Talk about a roller coaster season, Dew has had one. I thought she was an excellent pick at #12. She started the first game at holding midfielder and did a nice job frustrating Kelly Smith for the 1st half of that game. She followed that with a goal against Sky Blue. Then she missed nearly two full games because of injury, but seemed to be settling in after that, until.... She had a rough time of it againt the Sol, getting called on a foul and penalty, and was beaten a few times by the speedy LA attackers. Then came the double yellow card against Washington and suspension. Like Rachel Buehler and Leslie Osborne, she goes in strong on the tackle, but she needs to be more discriminating as to when she uses that talent. Dew's height and athleticism make her a natural in the air. I still think she was a solid pick and a good player. Her main position in college was center back, but she has also been used at defensive mid with Gold Pride and I wonder if that might ultimately be her better position.

Tiffany Weimer-No player burst onto the WPS scene with a bigger splash than Weimer. Her 1st half against Boston in the opener was a great half of soccer. She has excellent ball skills and can be a magician at times. About the best compliment I can pay her is that she thinks like a Brazilian, always looking to create and in fact, she did spend time with Santos. Sometimes, it seems like she attempts to do too much with the dribble, but that could be because the mids are slow in support. She had a goal and three assists in her first four games. But then, what happened? She was very quiet against Athletica and then spent a large portion of the next three games on the bench. In her last 5 games, she has attempted only 2 shots. I hope that Weimer can bounce back from this lull, because she is truly a joy to watch when she's at her best.

Marisa Abegg-Abegg started the year as a developmental player, but she saw her first action against the Freedom, followed by a start and a full 90 against Chicago due to Dew's suspension and Wilson's injury. She and former teammate Allison Falk helped to form one of the best back lines in college soccer at Stanford.

Leigh Ann Robinson-The 6th round pick has contributed nicely to Gold Pride, playing in all 10 games and starting eight. Like teammate Kandace Wilson, she can be dangerous making overlapping runs, although she doesn't quite have Wilson's blazing speed. She scored the game winning goal, coming off the bench in the 2nd Sky Blue game with a nice run and beautiful finish. It seems to me, at least at this point in her career, that she is much more comfortable going forward than defending.

Brandi Chastain-You have to take your hat off to any player that can compete in this league at age 40. She's still in top shape, although the amount of quality minutes that she can give has surely declined. She's been bothered with injuries, but has looked pretty good in the games she has played and she just missed scoring a goal on a header against Los Angeles.

Allison Whitworth-With Nicole Barnhart's call up, she got the start against the Sol, not exactly the easiest debut. She played outstanding, making several nice saves and keeping her team in the game. It was impressive that the young keeper didn't let the penalty rattle her and she actually seemed to gain confidence as the game wore on. She makes sound decisions and has good height and quickness. She could be a prime target in the expansion draft.

Gold Pride has gotten a lot out of their draft. DiMartino is already a good player and has one of the best skill sets of any young player in the league. Dew was a solid pick and with some experience, she should be a fine player for many years. Weimer could have been the steal of the draft at #17, but she needs to be more consistent. Gold Pride also did pretty well in the bottom half of the draft with Robinson and Whitworth. Abegg, given time and experience, could develop into a nice player. Quite frankly, I was shocked that Abdullah didn't make the team. The one thing I can perhaps fault this group on is their consistency.

I think perhaps the biggest problem is that, with Wilson's injury, Gold Pride is now getting absolutely zilch out of the October draft. Therefore, several of these players are being pushed into roles before they have had time to develop. I'm puzzled that they didn't keep Jill Oakes, injury or not, to give them more depth and experience on defense, which may have helped young players like Dew and Robinson. Still, it's a pretty good draft when you can get four starters out of it.