Four Backline Soccer writers sat down and had a draft of NWSL players who have gone through the NWSL drafting process. Below are the results of that draft.
Anthony Merced - Building a team is always something that sounds easy on paper but when you sit down and try it - even through a fantasy draft where so many fantastic players are available - you find out just how difficult it can be. You have to go in what a plan from either a tactical or aesthetic direction and mine was one of seeking out pure entertainment.
Goalkeepers: Jane Campbell, Emily Boyd
Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper, Amanda Frisbie, Mandy Freeman, Julia Bingham, Kendall Johnson
Midfielders: Mariah Nogueira, Rebecca Quinn, Julie Doyle, Dani Weatherholt, Paige Nielsen
Forwards: Lynn Williams, Rachel Daly, Raquel Rodríguez, Jen Hoy, Imani Dorsey
This is obviously a team built to score goals. Lynn Williams and Imani Dorsey would be relied on to deliver the magic in front of goal while Rocky Rodríguez and Jen Hoy provide the death that could see them more on the score sheets than they currently are in their clubs. A free-flowing style and a focus on explosive counter attacking can create the entertainment that I enjoy from a majority of the club teams I watch on a weekly basis.
From a defensive standpoint, much of the team would rely on the leadership of Abby Dahlkemper. My number one overall draft pick was selected because of her experience. Despite being only 26-years old, Dahlkemper has already won a World Cup, played as an Olympian and won three NWSL Championships.
On paper, and on the field, this could be a complete disaster of a team. Too many strong personalities could sink a team during the rough times but it is worth the risk for the high points. This is why a woman manager would be necessary more than a tactician. I won’t go into who could potentially be the coach, perhaps that’s another piece for another time.
RJ Allen - Goalkeeping wise I had to go with Casey Murphy and Haley Kopmeyer. Murphy has shown herself during the 2019 season of being an extremely talented goalkeeper who has the talent to take herself to the highest levels of the league. Kopmeyer has been a solid backup for her many seasons in the NWSL. She is steady, able to step in if needed and a good force in the locker room.
I admit that I dropped the ball and didn’t take enough defenders. But having Casey Short, Emily Menges, Kristin Grubka and Erica Skroski is not a bad back four to have. I do have Kristie Mewis as an outside back if I need her and Short could move inside in I needed. So not the deepest but still I’m happy with the speed, toughness and height I have here.
Rose Lavelle was my first pick in the draft and I am pretty darn happy to have her. It seems like everything is possible when Lavelle is on the pitch. Add in the one two punch of Danielle Colaprico and Vanessa DiBernardo, plus Christina Gibbons and Kristie Mewis? Not bad, not bad at all. Not the widest midfield but I have some forwards. If I put myself in a 4-3-3 the center being so strong saves me a bit.
My forward corps of Ashley Hatch, Shea Groom, Kristen Hamilton, Kealia Ohai, Kayla McCoy, Lo’eau LaBonta and Savannah McCaskill all bring a different flavor of forward to the party. If I need someone to come in like a wrecking ball I have McCaskill. Hatch can stretch defenses with her play, Ohai with the speed, Groom will out tough you. McCoy and LaBonta can put the ball on a dime. And oh, the things Hamilton has shown she can do.
It might not be the most conventional 18 put together but they do have a blue collar grit to them that will wear you down and then sneak a goal past you for the win.
Charles Olney - I managed to get two of the top three players on my board, in Julie Ertz and Crystal Dunn. They’ll anchor the defense and attack. Alongside Dunn I have Sophia Smith and Sofia Huerta, two incredibly talented players with modest question marks. They each bring creative potential and let the attack play with a ton of fluidity.
In the midfield alongside Ertz, I’ve got Morgan Brian. Her time in the NWSL has been a bit up and down, but she was electric for Houston when she entered the league and has been excellent for Chicago. Happy to have her linking defense and attack. Ahead of them is Christine Nairn. I’m hoping for a 2016-level campaign from her, but will be okay with her normal fare. Playing ahead of Ertz and Brian, she won’t need to do much defensively, and can really focus on dictating play.
Anchoring the defense are Megan Oyster and Emily Sonnett, two of the best defenders in the league over the past few years. The fullback pool in the draft was pretty weak, so I’m happy to have Sarah Gorden and Arin Gilliland. The two Red Stars stalwarts aren’t quite world class, but they’ll get the job done.
Finally, Adrianna Franch is my goalkeeper. She’s been one of the best in the league for years, and I’m thrilled to have her.
My bench features a ton of great contributors. Sarah Killion somehow fell to like the 13th round. I don’t ‘need’ her, but am happy to have someone who ought to be starting available off the bench. Leah Galton and Erika Tymrak bring high peaks if you’re lucky, solid depth if not. Meggie Dougherty Howard offers flexibility in both midfield and defense, while Sam Staab and Tegan McGrady are rock solid backups for the backline. Sabrina D'Angelo was the MVP for an NWSL title winner, and makes for a sturdy second keeper.
Bill Blatchley - Made up almost exclusively of players that play more than one position, this lineup is sure to give other teams headaches all over the pitch.
With speed up top and on the flanks, defenders will be run ragged by halftime. Able to shut down Viens’ speed? Watch out for Daniels on the overlap. Trying to breakout down the center of the pitch? Twin Towers of Power, Mewis and Kornieck will crush the attack before it starts. Throw Sullivan at a false 9. Davidson can play a 6. Hell, Purce can play outside back, outside mid, and forward.
This lineup is pure organized chaos with technically abilities and grit throughout—all anchored by the best goalie in the league, Kailen Sheridan. And with Mace and Sanchez coming off the bench, the future looks bright for this young and talented squad.
So, who do you think has the best squad?