July 2, 2009

WPS Draft Revisited-Boston Breakers

In the sixth installment on the 2009 WPS draft, we'll look at the Boston Breakers.

Who They Drafted
1st round (#1)-Amy Rodriguez, USC; 3rd round (#15)-Kasey Moore, Texas; 5th round (#29)-Jenny Nobis, Missouri; 6th round (#41)-Kelly Schmedes, Texas; 6th round (#42)-Ariel Harris, North Carolina; 7th round (#43)-Lindsey Vera, North Carolina St.; 8th round (#56)-Ashley Nick, USC; 9th round (#57)-Allison Martino, Texas A & M; 10th round (#69)-Stacy Bishop, Florida; 10th round (#70)-Jaimel Johnson, Tennessee.

With the first overall pick in the draft, the Breakers went with the obvious choice taking USC forward Amy Rodriguez. Boston chose a lot of offensive players early, going with Rodriguez, Nobis, and Schmedes. They definitely went young, with five college seniors and three 2007 college players. The oldest player they drafted was Schmedes who was 25 at the time of the draft. They really didn't pick anyone with ties to the northeast except Allison Martino who had played with the Boston Renegades in 2008. They also made a trade with Chicago.

Boston made a major trade with the Red Stars. They traded their 2nd and 4th round picks (#14 and #28) to Chicago for the rights to international player Alex Scott and Chicago's picks in the 6th and 10th round (#41 and #69). The trade ended up being Brittany Klein and Chioma Igwe for Alex Scott, Kelly Schmedes, and Stacy Bishop. It was a great move for the Breakers, because it gave them Scott, one of the best outside defenders in the WPS. Schmedes has started a majority of the Breakers' games. Bishop was recently waived, but contributed a couple of assists for Boston.

Current WPS Status
For the Boston Breakers, 4 of their 10 draft picks are still on the roster, 6 were released, including Bishop who played in 9 games before being waived, Harris who made the team but never played before being waived, and Johnson who made the Chicago Red Stars' roster as a developmental player.

Full time starters (2)-Rodriguez, Schmedes
Part time starters & other full roster players (2)-Moore, Nobis
Released (6)-Harris, Vera, Nick, Martino, Bishop, Johnson

What They've Done
Rodriguez-12 G, 9 GS, 740 Min, 1 goal, 2 points, 16 shots, 10 SOG
Moore-9 G, 6 GS, 478 Min, 3 shots, 2 SOG
Nobis-4 G, 1 GS, 187 Min, 1 goal, 2 points, 5 shots, 2 SOG
Schmedes-11 G, 8 GS, 739 Min, 2 assists, 2 points, 8 shots, 5 SOG
Biship-9 G, 6 GS, 529 Min, 2 assists, 2 points, 4 shots, 2 SOG

Total Offensive Output-45 G, 30 GS, 2673 Min, 2 goals, 4 assists, 8 points, 36 shots, 21 SOG

G=Games; GS=Games Started; Min=Minutes; SOG=Shots on Goal

The Players

Amy Rodriguez-She was a gold medalist at age 21 and everyone's consensus choice for Boston's number one pick. So expectations were unrealistically high, which is dangerous for a young player. When she didn't score in the first 10 games, the "what's wrong with A-Rod" questions were popping up everywhere. Additionally, she was being compared to her Breaker teammates Kristine Lilly and Kelly Smith, both of whom are soccer legends. Personally, I thought she played well in the opener against Gold Pride, making several nice runs and only just missed finishing when Nicole Barnhart came up big or the shots just weren't well placed. As the season progressed, her timing just seemed off and her playing time was reduced. And watching her, it almost seemed like she wasn't having any fun at all.

She certainly has great speed and is one of the fastest players in the league. She has very good skills, but it's much easier when you're one of several great players on a national team rather than being a go-to forward on a club team. As she didn't score, the pressure began to mount. She finally scored her first goal against Chicago and that could be the start of a lot of good things to come. Rodriguez is only 22 and only a handful of young players are having great years...Marta, Eniola Aluko, Brittany Bock, and Allison Falk come to mind. Maybe she isn't tearing up the league yet, but she very well could in time.

Kasey Moore-Moore is a sturdy defensive midfielder who starred at the University of Texas. She has considerable experience on the US Junior National teams. In all fairness to Moore, the games I've seen her play have not been her best. She had a number of bad touches in the opener against Gold Pride, although her defense was sound enough. She was able to get some playing time with Boston's WPSL affiliate and that seemed to help her as she has been playing better for the Breakers lately.

Jennifer Nobis-The University of Missouri product is a strong, physical forward. She gained a lot of international experience playing club soccer in Europe. Nobody is going to push her off the ball and she will go in hard to win the ball in the air. She scored her first goal against FC Gold Pride, tying the game late in the 2nd half. Perhaps one of her strongest suits and a role that Tony DiCicco uses her for often is on long throws, where she is one of the best in the WPS. Although she will probably never be a featured forward in any offense at this level, she does enough things well to enable her to contribute nicely for the Breakers.

Kelly Schmedes-The University of Texas grad has two assists to her credit through 12 games. She was the oldest player selected by Boston in the draft and has several years of W-League experience. She can play forward or attacking midfielder. She is not particularly strong, but she does possess good speed. Her best asset is her work ethic. Defensively, she does a nice job pressuring opposing defenders. She doesn't get off a lot of shots, but they are usually on goal. On the same team with Smith, Lilly, and Rodriguez, she is bound to be overshadowed, but she has performed well for the Breakers.

Stacy Bishop-One of my most vivid draft day memories was watching as the draft was winding down into the 10th round of selections. By that time, the once overflow crowd had thinned out to maybe 50 or 60 people. Boston was up at #69 and announced that they had selected Bishop. To my right, a group of 10-12 people let out quite a roar, probably the biggest I heard after the selection of Brandi Chastain back in the 7th round. Every time I've watched Bishop, she's played well. She distributes nicely and accurately. She earned two assists in the Breakers' first 5 games. She probably could stand to improve her defensive skills, but that could come in time. At one point, she started five consecutive games, but then she got waived. I was very surprised, as I thought she had done enough things well to earn a roster spot. I hope she gets a second chance somewhere.

If you look at just the draft selections, you can't really say this was a very good draft at this point. The Breakers' top four picks are still with the team and all contributing, but they got nothing from the bottom of the draft, except for Bishop's efforts. But you have to take into account that Boston traded down with two picks in order to acquire Scott, who is a top notch outside back. If expectations get more realistic and as she gets more experienced, I think Rodriguez will be just fine and a dangerous goal scorer. Moore, Nobis, and Schmedes are all nice role players, but none of them are game changing types of players. That being said, Nobis has a goal and Schmedes has two assists, so they are already contributing to the Breakers. I thought Bishop played pretty well and she added two assists. Although many of the draft picks didn't make the roster, to his credit, DiCicco has gotten a lot out of those that did make the team, with the obvious exception of Rodriguez.

There is no doubt that the trade for Scott was a great move for the Breakers. There is no way they would be where they are now without her. As for the draft itself, the success probably hinges on how Rodriguez performs over her career. I think she will eventually become an offensive force in this league, but it may take time and patience.