With the WPS draft fast approaching, FC Gold Pride is looking to improve upon last year's performance where they finished in sixth place. With the expansion draft, free agent signings, international signings, and a blockbuster trade the week before draft day, let's breakdown FC Gold Pride’s current roster.
WHAT THEY KEPT:
- The Pride have two huge names in former US Women’s National team stars forward Tiffeny Milbrett and midfielder/defender Brandi Chastain.
- Current US Women’s National Team members backup goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart and defender Rachel Buehler.
- The Canadian Player of the Year in forward Christine Sinclair.
- Japanese international Eriko Arakawa.
WHAT THEY'VE LOST:
- Goalkeeper Allison Whitworth and a third-round pick to the Atlanta Beat (10/29)
- Defenders Marisa Abegg and Brazilian international Erika
- Defender Leigh Ann Robinson in the expansion draft
- 2009 top selection and US National team pool midfielder Christina DiMartino in an early January trade to the LA Sol along with the 14th overall pick in the 2010 WPS draft.
- US National team midfielder Leslie Osborne and Tiffany Weimer, both to free agency.
WHO THEY'VE ACQUIRED:
- Canadian midfielder Candice Chapman as a free agent from the Boston Breakers.
- Defender Niki Cross, a free agent from the St. Louis Athletica.
- Norwegian midfielder Solveig Gulbrandsen.
- WPS All-Star and French National Team midfielder Camille Abily in a trade with the LA Sol that sent midfielder Christina DiMartino to LA along with the 20th overall pick in the 2010 WPS draft.
FC Gold Pride may be looking to add an additional attacking personality to play up top with the likes of Christine Sinclair and Japanese international Eriko Arakawa. There is an extremely talented group of attacking players coming out of college this year, led by Kelley O'Hara (Stanford), Lauren Cheney (UCLA)—both forwards—and midfielder Tobin Heath (UNC). With the number three overall pick in the draft, a top attacking player will definitely still be available.
Both Cheney and O’Hara played their collegiate soccer on the west coast, which would definitely draw fans and help the club on the field at the same time. With Atlanta holding the top pick and Boston following them, the Pride will have to wait to see which of those three are still available when all is said and done.
With the No. 10 overall pick at the end of the first round, top quality defenders or a defensive midfielder may still be available. Florida State midfielder/defender Becky Edwards would be able to fill either need if she’s still available at that pick. Stanford outside back Ali Riley would also be a good choice to fill the outside defender need. A former forward, Riley can also get into the attack, providing the Pride with another threat on the offensive side of the ball.
West Virginia midfielder Carolyn Blank could also potentially fill the hole left at defensive center mid with the loss of Osborne. If Edwards goes between the Pride’s two first-round picks to Chicago, Sky Blue, LA, or Washington, Blank would satisfy the need quite nicely.
With Megan McCray being a free agent, FC Gold Pride is left with only one goalkeeper in US Women’s National team's Nicole Barnhart . With all nine WPS teams having their starting goalkeeper already, the top keepers should still be available by the start of the second round.
FC Gold would have the luxury of choosing between Portland’s Kelsey Davis, Penn State's Alyssa Naeher , UNC's Ashlyn Harris, USC's Kristen Olson, and Rutgers' Erin Guthrie. Any of these keepers would be capable of stepping in should Barnhart be called up to national team duty.
We only have to wait until Friday to see who the Pride will add to bolster their roster before their 2010 WPS season kicks off against Sky Blue FC at home on April 17, 2010.
To follow the WPS Draft LIVE, visit www .twitter.com/womensprosoccer on Friday, January 15, 2010 at 10 AM ET/7 AM PT.