June 24, 2009

WPS Draft Revisited-Washington Freedom

For the fifth installment on the WPS Draft, we'll take a look at the Washington Freedom.

Who They Drafted
1st round (#7)-Allie Long, North Carolina; 2nd round (#8)-Alex Singer, Virginia; 4th round (#22)-Jill Gilbeau, Texas; 4th round (#23)-Parrissa Eyorokon, Purdue; 5th round (#35)-Briana Scurry, Massachusetts; 6th round (#36)-Rebecca Moros, Duke; 7th round (#49)-Sarah Senty, Virginia; 8th round (#50)-Kati Jo Spisak, Texas A & M; 9th round (#63)-Claire Zimmeck, William & Mary; 10th round (#64)-Christen Karniski, Illinois

Well, let's see now. Alex Singer, Rebecca Moros, Sarah Senty, Kati Jo Spisak...all Washington Freedom 2007-08. Jill Gilbeau and Christen Karniski...both Washington Freedom 2008. Do we detect a pattern here? Yes, Jim Gabarra is definitely loyal to his former W-League players. Most of the draftees were young with five of them playing college soccer in 2008. The Freedom also seemed partial to ACC players, choosing four. They were one of the two teams to choose two goalkeepers in the draft, which turned out to be a good idea, given McLeod's visa problems. The Freedom also made a minor trade.

Washington traded their 3rd round pick (#21) to Saint Louis for Joanna Lohman and Athletica's 4th round pick (#23). The trade ended up being Elise Weber for Lohman and Parrissa Eyorokon. Eyorokon started the season injured and Lohman has seen minimal action, while Weber is now starting for Saint Louis. Lohman has strong ties to the Washington area, so it almost seemed like a trade of convenience for both teams.

Current WPS Status
For the Washington Freedom, 9 of their 10 draft picks are still on the roster, with the 10th, Claire Zimmeck making the squad and playing, but recently being waived.

Full time starters (3)-Long, Singer, Gilbeau.
Part time starters & other full roster players (5)-Eyorokon, Scurry, Moros, Senty, Spisak.
Developmental (1)-Karniski.
Released (1)-Zimmeck.

Note that Gilbeau will likely be a sub for the rest of the season, now that Ali Krieger has joined the team. Moros has been starting more lately. Scurry and Spisak shared the starting position in goal before the arrival of McLeod. Technically, Spisak is a developmental player, but she has either been the starter or the backup for most of the season.

What They've Done (through 11 games)
Long-11 G, 11 GS, 844 Min, 1 goal, 2 points, 23 shots, 8 SOG
Singer-10 G, 9 GS, 793 Min, 1 shot, 1 SOG
Gilbeau-11 G, 6 GS, 661 Min, 2 assists, 2 points, 4 shots, 2 SOG
Eyorokon-2 G, 21 Min
Moros-10 G, 5 GS, 560 Min, 2 goals, 4 points, 11 shots, 6 SOG
Senty-1 G, 26 Min
Zimmeck-4 G, 1 GS, 63 Min
Karniski has not played.

Scurry-3 G, 3 GS, 270 Min, 11 saves, 2.00 GA
Spisak-2 G, 2 GS, 180 Min, 9 saves, 3.00 GA

Total Offensive Output-49 G, 32 GS, 2968 Min, 3 goals, 2 assists, 8 points, 39 shots, 17 SOG.
Total Goalkeeper Output-5 G, 5 GS, 450 Min, 20 saves, 2.40 GA.

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

The Players

Allie Long-The former UNC star was probably the closest thing to a surprise pick in the 1st round and even she wasn't much of a surprise. I had her going early in the 2nd round. Long has started every game for the Washington Freedom, playing both as an attacking midfielder and a forward. Early in the season, it didn't seem to me that she had a high work rate or that she was particularly aggressive, perhaps because she seems to run effortlessly. However, in recent games, she's been far more active and I thought she played one of her best matches against Athletica last weekend. Her lone goal of the season came against FC Gold Pride, but she has taken 23 shots which is among the highest shot totals of anyone in the draft. She has good height and with a little aggressiveness and experience, could become a good target forward. If she continues to improve and works hard, she can become a versatile attacking player.

Alex Singer-20 seconds into the opening game, Singer had the ball at her feet, with Marta on her back. About two seconds later, she was frantically racing after Marta after being dispossessed. Welcome to the WPS, Alex Singer. Actually, Singer recovered on that play and went on to play a fairly decent game. Later in the season, she has taken a couple of knocks, a hard elbow to the head courtesy of Christine Latham and a collision with Ally Wagner that left her with a concussion. Overall, Singer has played a solid outside back, playing the first game on the right side, but she has spent most of the time on the left. She has excellent speed, although she did get beat by Alex Scott in a game against Boston. Her ball skills are good. Comparing her to fellow Freedom draft pick, Jill Gilbeau, I would say that Singer is better defensively, while Gilbeau is better going forward. Singer is a steady performer, a good pick and would have started every game so far if it had not been for the injury.

Jill Gilbeau-Gilbeau was drafted early in the 4th round, shortly after her former Longhorn teammate, Stephanie Logterman. Gilbeau has started just over half of the Freedom's games, playing outside right back for the most part, although she actually subbed in as a forward recently. As a defender, she is very good going forward on overlapping runs and she has hit several nice, accurate serves from the right wing. She has a couple of assists for the season. Defensively, she has played pretty well, but had a tough game against Gold Pride, getting beat by runs to the back post twice in that game. Gilbeau is certainly a nice weapon to have on the back line and if she continues to improve her defense, she could be a very good player in this league.

Parrissa Eyorokon-She missed several games early on with an injury and has seen just 21 minutes of action so far. At Purdue, Eyorokon was a terrific offensive player, scoring 27 career goals for the Boilermakers and being named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2007.

Briana Scurry-When the Freedom made this pick, I thought it was a smart choice. However, Scurry did not get off to a good start for Washington and hasn't started since early in the season. In her case, it was probably a combination of bad luck (the Allison Falk goal in the opener) and below par play. She is certainly not the keeper she was 10 years ago. Her leg strength is not very good and her kicks rarely make it near the midfield line. In Scurry's defense, she had not seen a lot of action leading up to camp. I still think she could make a good backup keeper, but her days as a starter may be over.

Rebecca Moros-If there is one player who symbolizes the Freedom, it would be Moros. She is an overachiever, who works hard all the time. Moros isn't going to beat you with her one-on-one skills, but she's darn sure going to make you work your butt off to beat her. It was that work ethic that led to her scoring the winning goal in the Freedom's 1-0 victory over Saint Louis, blocking a clearing effort, collecting the ball, and putting it over the keeper's head. She can play both midfield and forward. Moros distributes well and is a very accurate passer. She will chase defenders ceaselessly, attempting to force them into a mistake. She has two goals for the year. This was a great 6th round pick by the Freedom.

Sarah Senty-Senty recently joined the team after finishing up her studies at the University of Virginia. She has played in just one game to this point.

Kati Jo Spisak-Spisak is the tallest player in the league at 6-2. She started two games for the Freedom, winning one and tying one, but she has a lackluster goals against of 3.00. This was certainly not all her fault, however. She moves well side to side, but will occasionally give up a rebound that she probably shouldn't. Her height is a definite advantage on balls in the air.

Claire Zimmeck-She started the season opener against the Sol, but got very few touches in that game and saw only 20 more minutes of action in 3 matches after that. She was recently waived by Washington. The former William & Mary captain scored 57 goals in her college career.

Christen Karniski-The former University of Illinois defender made the Freedom as a developmental player and has yet to see any action.

Any time all ten of your draft picks have made the squad at one time or another, you've had a pretty good draft. Long, Singer, and Gilbeau were solid picks and have contributed quite well to the Freedom. Moros was a gem in the 6th round. Scurry and Spisak haven't quite panned out as well as the Freedom would have hoped, but McLeod was probably going to be their number one keeper anyhow and either of those two could make a decent backup. It's really too early to know about their other picks since we haven't seen much of them, Eyorokon because of injury, Senty because of school, and Karniski being developmental. Zimmeck was cut, but she wasn't a bad pick and she accomplished more than most of the other 9th round picks.

This was a pretty good draft and could be a very good one, if the players at the top continue to improve and the later round selections get some playing time. They are the only team in the league that all ten are either still on the roster or contributed to the team at some point. There are good points and bad points to being so single minded with respect to drafting so many players from the W-League version of the Freedom. But there is certainly something to be said for bringing in players that you are confident of their work ethic and that already know the system. Over the next couple of years, we'll find out if this was just a good draft or even better.