January 10, 2010

GM for a Day - It's Harder Than It Looks

I was contacted on Friday by WPS Director of Communications & Broadcast Relations, Robert Penner, about taking part in a WPS mock draft that was being held on Twitter by the good folks over at Bleacher Report. I happily, although somewhat warily, accepted. Participating in a mock draft always leaves one open to criticism for those who want to second guess the second guessers.

First, I want to thank Rob for contacting me and everyone over at Bleacher Report for allowing me to participate. It was challenging, but fun. The results of the draft are on this link. They have done a nice job providing info and a short bio on each of the selections that were made. Please check it out.

I was chosen to play the part of Ilisa Kessler, the GM for FC Gold Pride. I also want to thank Ilisa, who was kind enough to respond to my tweet and email for advice.

I kind of thought it might be interesting to go through my thought process as the mock GM. I had already made a pretty good list of who I thought the top players at each position were and Todd Civin at Bleacher Report provided me with some additional statistical information to help. I had already assessed FC Gold Pride's needs in a series I have been doing for Women's Soccer Weekly. My assessment is that they need a forward/scorer, a defensive midfielder, an outside back preferably on the left side, and a backup keeper. I tweeted Ilisa asking for advice and luckily for me, she was thinking along the same general lines as I was.

So before the draft, I'm thinking I'm probably going to get Kelley O'Hara or Lauren Cheney with the 3rd pick. My guess was O'Hara would be the one available. Here is the draft progressed:

1st Round

Atlanta-Tobin Heath, MF, North Carolina (No surprise here).
Boston-Kelley O'Hara, F, Stanford (That caught me off guard. I had thought they would either go for Cheney or Engen. I was still going to get one of the two forwards I had targeted).

FC Gold Pride-Lauren Cheney, F, UCLA (I expected O'Hara, but I still got Cheney and I'm happy. My next target for the 10th pick is Becky Edwards, defensive midfielder/defender from Florida State. It's my feeling that she is the best holding midfielder in the draft).

Chicago-Whitney Engen, D, North Carolina.
Los Angeles-Kara Lang, MF, UCLA.
Sky Blue-Casey Nogueira, F, North Carolina.
Washington-Becky Edwards, D/MF, Florida State (Okay, I have to go to plan B now. I don't see another pure defensive mid that I value that highly, so my next target is the outside defender).
Los Angeles-Nikki Washington, MF, North Carolina.
Los Angeles-Gina DiMartino, F/MF, Boston College.

FC Gold Pride-Ali Riley, D, Stanford (I consider Riley to be an excellent outside back that is good both defensively and offensively. Additionally, she is one of the few top outside backs that plays the left side. I've now accomplished two objectives and am very happy with the way things are going, in spite of not getting Edwards).
Boston-Michelle Enyeart, F, Portland.

2nd Round
(Okay, I'm up again. Now I have a tough decision to make. Again, I don't see an available defensive mid that I value quite this high in the draft. However, my other need is goalkeeper and none have been taken yet. There are at least 3 or 4 that I would be plenty happy with. So what do I do here?)

FC Gold Pride-Alyssa Naeher, GK, Penn State (I decided to go ahead and get the keeper. I kind of figured that once one had been chosen, there might be a run on keepers and I didn't want to take that chance. I would have been happy with Naeher, Kelsey Davis, Ashlyn Harris, or even Kristin Olsen. In the end, it was pretty much a coin flip for me between Naeher and Davis and I chose Naeher).

Philadelphia-Ashlyn Harris, GK, North Carolina (At this point, I'm thinking here comes the run on keepers and maybe it was a good idea to use the number 12 pick for one. As it turned out, it didn't really happen, but I was still happy with my choice).
Los Angeles-Jill Hutchinson, F, Wake Forest.
Chicago-Kate Megna, MF, UW-Milwaukee (Now I'm starting to think about the defensive mid for the 20th selection. My target for this pick is now Carolyn Blank of West Virginia, who I consider the best defensive mid left on the board).

Boston-Brittany Taylor, D, Connecticut (I'm extremely surprised she fell this far. I was thinking top 10, maybe top 8).
Saint Louis-Katie Schoepfer, F, Penn State (Again surprised she fell this far. I had her as the 4th forward on my board behind O'Hara, Cheney, and Nogueira and considering Enyeart's injury).
Washington-Kristi Eveland, D, North Carolina (Had she played the left side instead of the right, I would have strongly considered her when I made the selection at no. 10).
Saint Louis-Emily Pallotta, MF, Boston University.

FC Gold Pride-Carolyn Blank, MF, West Virginia (I got my player. A very tough and tenacious defender. Since we're only going 3 rounds in the mock draft, I'm through for the day).

3rd round

Atlanta-Dea Cook, D, UCLA.
Los Angeles-Mick Imgram, MF, Tennessee.
Atlanta-Kristin Olsen, GK, USC.
Chicago-Erin Guthrie, GK, Rutgers.
Boston-Jessica Fuccello, F, Pennsylvania.
Sky Blue-Kelly Henderson, D, Boston College (Another player I thought would go earlier).
Washington-Nikki Marshall, F/D, Colorado (Also a good value for the 3rd round).
Saint Louis-Carly Dobratz, MF, Washington State.
Sky Blue-Sylvia Kowalski, MF, Canisius.

That concluded the draft. I was stunned that a few players weren't chosen like Kelsey Davis, Kaley Fountain, Kiersten Dallstream, Kat Reynolds, and Jordan Angeli. I also wasn't sure about the WPS international status of Kara Lang and Sylvia Kowalski, both of whom are Canadian. Michelle Enyeart's injury is the only thing that prevented me from considering her in the first round.

If I had to do this in real life, I would die of stress within a week. It was even a bit nerve-racking doing this on a mock level. The unpredicatability of the process calls for a Plan A, B, C, and maybe even Plan D. And that is only the start of the fun. Then you have to worry about the business end of it...contracts, budgets to sign the players, etc. Then there are the uncontrollables like injuries. Make no mistake, a general manager's job is not easy. And of course there's us, the second guessers...the analysts...the woulda, shoulda, couldas.

Good luck to all teams and general managers on Friday!


Kat said...

Great post Kevin! I guess both of us had our eye on Becky Edwards in the first round. I felt Washington needed a M/D, looking back at last season. And maybe this would also give Homare Sawa to take on a more attacking role, where she is best at. Edwards also played for Washington in the W-League so she's familiar w/ the team's style of play & the coaching staff familiar w/ her abilities. Sorry I took her away from you, ha! ;)

KC Albertina said...

I agree that they need to move Sawa up where she can be more effective. Edwards would fit perfectly, but at least I had a plan B. Thanks Kat and it was fun doing the mock draft with everyone at Bleacher Report. You do a great job.