The 2014 NWSL College Draft takes place today and FC Kansas City currently holds six picks through the four rounds (5th, 12th, 16th, 19th, 20th, 35th).
Expansion side Houston Dash has the second pick overall but the first pick in all the other rounds. It seems that the NWSL did not want to deprive the Washington Spirit of the first overall pick after they tried so hard to finish last in 2013.
Teams will have five minutes to make their selection in the first round and three minutes in each of the other rounds. Teams will also have one five-minute timeout per round, which may be used for further discussion, rule clarification, or trade discussion at any time in that round.
Since last season for FC Kansas City
Players In: Nikki Kryzsik (Seattle), Amy Rodriguez (Seattle), Liz Bogus (Seattle), Cecilia Santiago (Allocation)
Players Out: Tiffany Cameron (waived), Courtney Jones (Boston), Teresa Noyola (Allocation), Kristie Mewis (Seattle/Boston), Lauren Sesselmann (expansion draft), Sinead Farrelly (Portland), Bianca Henninger (Houston)
Needs: More depth. Andonovksi blamed the poor performance in the playoffs last year on using too few players throughout the season. He wants to expand the starters from 12 players up to 16 and rotate though the roster more often.
The great unkown: Desiree Scott is still on the roster but it remains to be seen how that contract dispute will be settled. The Blues may already have deals with discovery and foreign players in place but not announced yet. Since the NWSL let Sarah Hagen's name slip as one of the discovery players during the Expansion draft there is a good chance that the Blues will be attempting to sign her at some point.
What will the Blues do?
With no clear needs other than depth, Coach Andonovski has a lot of freedom in the draft to take the best players he can find.
"We feel very comfortable with where we are at right now," Andonovski explained. "Going into the draft we can take any position. We can go forward, midfielder or defender. It puts us in a really good situation because we are going to go with the best available. If the best available is Maya Hays we are taking her, if the best available is DiBernardo we are taking her or if the best available is Kallman we are taking her. So it all depends on who the best available is at the fifth pick so we are going to play a little bit off Chicago, Houston and Washington."
With six picks in the draft, FC Kansas City has more than any other team.
Coach Andonovski thought that there might be additional trades prior to the draft but was prepared to use all of the picks if he still had them available. "I would not be surprised if we have moved a couple of those picks," Andonovski observed. "But if we don't I feel good with the amount of good players that are in the draft right now and also with the number of good local players that are in the draft. It is something we did last year and we want to do it this year as well, we want to draft local talent, homegrown talent."
Last year FC Kansas City won the draft when they selected Kristie Mewis and Erika Tymrak in the first two rounds, then the Blues went local with Whitney Berry from Kansas and Nia Williams from Missouri State with Williams making the final roster.
It would not be a surprise for the Blues to repeat this year and select the best available for two or three picks and then go with Kansas City area women. The good thing about this year is there are several very good players from the Kansas City region in the draft although most of them are good enough that they may not be around in the late stages.
Women in the draft from the Kansas City area
Frances Silva - forward - West Virginia - Silva helped lead West Virginia to the Big 12 title and was a clutch performer. Will probably not be on the board in late rounds.
Maegan Kelly - midfielder - Marquette - Sister Katie Kelly already plays for the Blues. Maegan is a quality passer and could add depth on any team right away.
Mandy Laddish - midfielder - Notre Dame - Talented, tenacious and energetic. Her coach at Notre Dame now coaches Houston so she may not fall too far down the board.
Jordan Jackson - forward - Nebraska - Can play a lot of attacking roles up top and in the middle as well.
Morgan Marlborough - forward - Santa Clara - Tall and powerful forward that can be difficult to stop, Tends to play more direct than FC Kansas City likes but you can't teach size, you can sometimes teach patience.
Probable top picks overall
These players should probably all go in the first round and could very possibly be the first six picks. Perhaps not in this exact order but really any team could use anyone of these players. Truthfully, if one of these players is not taken in the first round it will be a bit of a surprise.
Crystal Dunn - Defender/Midfielder - North Carolina
Julie Johnston - Midfielder/Defender - Santa Clara
Kassey Kallman - Defender - Florida State
Vanessa DiBernardo - Midfielder - Illinois
Kealia Ohai - Forward - North Carolina
Maya Hayes - Forward - Penn State
This is a strong draft for forwards, midfielders and defenders (not keepers) but after those six players the top becomes much less clear and will be more about what individual coaches see in them.