September 13, 2009

WPS Expansion Draft-Let the Speculation Begin

On Tuesday, the powers that be in the WPS will meet via conference call for the WPS Expansion Draft. The league's two new teams, the Philadelphia Independence and the Atlanta Beat, will be allowed to pick up to 9 players each from current WPS rosters. It will be the beginning of teambuilding for the two new entries into the league and may give us an idea as to their philosophies as well.

What do we know about the expansion draft? Well actually, not a whole lot. We know the rules. Each current team may protect 10 players, but must leave at least 6 unprotected. Every team must have at least one player chosen from their roster before a 2nd player can be chosen from any team and likewise for a 3rd player. Every team will lose either 2 or 3 players. After one player is chosen from a roster, that team may protect 2 more players. After a 2nd player is chosen from a roster, that team may protect one more player. Internationals are subject to this draft, although it will affect the International Draft which will be held the following week. Developmental players are supposedly not subject to this draft, because they are technically free agents. The draft order has Atlanta choosing 1st and 4th, Philadelphia 2nd and 3rd, and then alternating picks thereafter.

But beyond the rules, we know very little. The WPS has decided to keep a closed-mouth approach to the expansion draft, which means any info that we know in advance would be either leaked or speculation. One of the nation's top soccer writers, Steven Goff of the Washington Post, has apparently obtained the Washington Freedom's list. The surprise on that list is that Lori Lindsey was not protected. But that's pretty much the only one I've seen anywhere, so for now, we're pretty much in the dark.

For current owners, gm's and coaches, this becomes quite the chess match. Who can they risk? Which players are likely to be chosen and which passed over? What players may be more valuable to the team's future? Will the expansion teams go after international players, considering there will be an international draft the following week? All of these are important questions to ask.

For players and fans, it becomes a waiting game, a guessing game, although not really a game at all. So like everyone else, I will speculate and note that it is just that...speculation. I do not have any inside info. Note that this assumes that all are under contract, which is a pretty big assumption since WPS contracts are also not made public.

Sky Blue FC
Who I Think They'll Protect-Anita Asante, Yael Averbuch, Jen Branam, Keeley Dowling, Natasha Kai, Heather O'Reilly, Christie Rampone, Rosana, Meghan Schnur, and Kacey White.
Biggest Question-This was one of the easiest 10 to select, but that doesn't mean there couldn't be a surprise, especially with so many midfielders. There are four midfielders that I could see making a case to be protected, including Jen Buczkowski, Kelly Parker, Collette McCallum, and Francielle. That makes some pretty talented midfielders available, but the only one that isn't an international is Buczkowski.
Who That Leaves-Karen Bardsley, Jen Buczkowski, Francielle, Kerri Hanks, Noelle Keselica, Collette McCallum, Kelly Parker, Julianne Sitch.
Most Likely Players Taken-It could be any of the 8, but I do think Sky Blue will be one of the teams that loses 3 players.

Los Angeles Sol
Who I Think They'll Protect-Camille Abily, Brittany Bock, Shannon Boxx, Stephanie Cox, Allison Falk, Martina Franko, Karina LeBlanc, Marta, Aya Miyama, and Aly Wagner.
Biggest Question-To me, the first 9 are pretty easy, but the 10th comes down to Martina Franko, Manya Makoski, and possibly McCall Zerboni or Katie Larkin. There seemed to be some disappointment in Han Duan's play and Los Angeles has the negotiating rights to Laura Del Rio of Spain, so I don't think they'll protect Han.
Who That Leaves-Liz Bogus, Johanna Frisk, Han Duan, Val Henderson, Katie Larkin, Manya Makoski, Sharolta Nonen, Keri Sanchez, Christie Shaner, McCall Zerboni.
Most Likely Players Taken-Henderson, Larkin, Makoski, or Zerboni.

Saint Louis Athletica
Who I Think They'll Protect-Eniola Aluko, Lori Chalupny, Amanda Cinalli, Daniela, Tina Ellertson, Kendall Fletcher, Kia McNeill, Hope Solo, Sarah Walsh, and Angie Woznuk.
Biggest Question-Too many to include here. Will they really protect 5 midfielders (Chalupny, Cinalli, Daniela, Fletcher, and Woznuk)? Out of several young defenders (Stephanie Logterman, Elise Weber, and McNeill), who will they protect, if any? Will they leave versatile Niki Cross unprotected? How about veterans Melissa Tancredi, Sara Larsson, and Christie Welsh?
What That Leaves-Niki Cross, Sara Larsson, Stephanie Logterman, Jillian Loyden, Lisa Stoia, Melissa Tancredi, Elise Weber, Christie Welsh.
Most Likely Players Taken-Loyden, Cross, Logterman, or Weber.

Washington Freedom
Who I Think They'll Protect-Sonia Bompastor, Lisa DeVanna, Sarah Huffman, Ali Krieger, Allie Long, Erin McLeod, Becky Sauerbrunn, Homare Sawa, Abby Wambach, and Cat Whitehill (per Steven Goff's list).
Biggest Question-Why did they leave Lindsey unprotected?
What That Leaves-Parrissa Eyorokon, Jill Gilbeau, Emily Janss, Lori Lindsey, Rebecca Moros, Briana Scurry, Sarah Senty, Alex Singer, Kati Jo Spisak.
Most Likely Players Taken-Lindsey, Singer, Moros, or Gilbeau.

Boston Breakers
Who I Think They'll Protect-Fabiana, Angela Hucles, Amy LePeilbet, Kristine Lilly, Allison Lipsher, Heather Mitts, Amy Rodriguez, Alex Scott, Kelly Smith, and Sue Weber.
Biggest Question-Will they protect A-Rod? High expectations also make for big disappointments and the speedy forward didn't and probably couldn't possibly have met the expectations that greeted her in Boston. By the end of the season, the relationship between her and Coach Tony DiCicco appeared to be downright icy on the surface. I still can't believe they would give up on her this quickly though.
What That Leaves-Candace Chapman, Nancy Goffi, Christine Latham, Kristin Luckenbill, Kasey Moore, Jennifer Nobis, Kelly Schmedes, Maggie Tomecka.
Most Likely Players Taken-Nobis, Schmedes, Tomecka, Latham, or possibly Goffi by Atlanta.

Chicago Red Stars
Who I Think They'll Protect-Karen Carney, Cristiane, Marian Dalmy, Ifeoma Dieke, Caroline Jonsson, Brittany Klein, Carli Lloyd, Kate Markgraf, Megan Rapinoe, and Lindsay Tarpley.
Biggest Question-Would they leave Carli Lloyd unprotected? The hero of the 2008 Olympic final was by most accounts, a disappointment last year with the Red Stars. But was she a big enough disappointment to leave unprotected? The Red Stars would hate to lose Ella Masar and they could protect her over someone, but whom?
What That Leaves-Rumor has it that Frida Ostberg may be retiring. If that's true, it would leave Danesha Adams, Heather Garriock, Chioma Igwe, Nikki Krzysik, Ella Masar, Jill Oakes, Natalie Spilger, and Lydia Williams.
Most Likely Players Taken-Masar would be the most likely if left unprotected, but any of the others could be taken beyond that. Lydia Williams would be a tempting choice, but she did not see a minute of action last year and there will be several keepers available in this draft.

FC Gold Pride
Who I Think They'll Protect-I'd like to just answer this "I haven't got a clue", but I guess I'll take a stab at it. There are rumors swirling around that they may only protect one of their internationals, Christine Sinclair. My guess for the first 8 is Nicole Barnhart, Rachel Buehler, Carrie Dew, Tina DiMartino, Tiffeny Milbrett, Leslie Osborne, Christine Sinclair, and Kandace Wilson. Beyond that it gets increasingly dicey. If rumors about the internationals are true, Kristen Graczyk and Leigh Ann Robinson are possibilities.
Biggest Question-Pretty much everything once you get past a hand full of players. How many of the internationals will be back and how many of them want to be back? Eriko Arakawa and Formiga were part of the foundation of the team last year, while young Brazilians Adriane and Erika are loaded with potential, but didn't contribute a lot due to injuries. From the outside, it's very tough to judge what's going on here, but Gold Pride was showing improvement toward the end of the season.
What That Leaves-In addition to the internationals, Marisa Abegg, Brandi Chastain, Tiffany Weimer, Allison Whitworth, and Kimberly Yokers. But who knows?
Most Likely Players Taken-I would think Weimer would be chosen and possibly Whitworth.

The other thing to keep in mind about this draft is that every time one player is selected in the first 7 picks, it takes three players out of play...the one selected plus two more protected by their team. And it takes all players from that team out of play until someone has been chosen from each team.

The expansion draft will be held at 2:00 eastern time on Tuesday. The WPS has stated that they will release the results of the draft later in the day on Tuesday. Good luck to all involved!

Note: The correct time of the draft is 1:00 eastern, noon central, 10:00 pacific. Sorry for the error.


maire on September 14, 2009 at 9:45 AM said...

There are rumors that Melissa Tancredi is applying for her green card which would mean taht she wouldn't be considered an international player anymore. She may look better to the Athletica because then they could add one more international player. Besides, Tancredi is a beast and is rarely beaten by another player physically.

I don't like Walsh. She didn't show me anything this season. I would rather keep Tancredi over Walsh.

I would pick either Tancredi or Cross over Walsh.

KC said...

I agree that Walsh didn't do a lot with St. Louis. But she does add the element of speed and she did hit the post late in the season on a shot that looked like it should have went in. Two other things about Walsh...I don't think she was at full speed yet after recovering from the injury and they gave up two young players to get her, so you would think that it was for more than 4-5 games.

The other thing you have to look at is who the other teams are likely to take. For the moment, Tanc is considered an international and I don't think that's changing in the next 7 days. My feeling is that because of her age, injury problems, and the fact that she is international (for the moment), it is highly unlikely Philly or Atlanta will take her.

I like Cross's versatility and her shot. But she started very few matches. It's kind of shame she wasn't converted to forward earlier in the season so we could have seen more of her in that spot. You could very well be right, however.

Thanks for your comments!

tri-village said...

I found this news about Chicago's plans:


Baze on September 15, 2009 at 10:28 AM said...

Walsh was coming back from injury. She is an excellent player, but shouldn't have been put in by St. Louis that quickly.

KC said...

Regarding Tullock, she was born in England, but she has been in the US National Team camp before in 2004, so she would most likely be a US citizen. That would exclude her from becoming a discovery player. Schelin is Chicago's unsigned (they have the WPS negotiating rights to her) discovery player, but currently under contract with Olympique Lyonnais, the last I had heard. Neither Tullock nor Schelin are currently on the Red Stars roster, so they couldn't be chosen in the expansion draft anyhow as far as I know.