Sky Blue has released their official roster. Without further ado, here are the players and their jersey numbers:
Aubrey Bledsoe (21), Brittany Cameron (1)
Lindsi Cutshall (18), Caitlin Foord (4), Kristin Grubka (13), Hayley Haagsma (17), Cami Levin (22), Meg Morris (32), Kelley O’Hara (19), Christie Rampone (3)
Katy Freels (10), Shawna Gordon (2), Sarah Killion (14), Taylor Lytle (6), Nikki Stanton (7)
Jonelle Filigno (16), Maya Hayes (11), Samantha Kerr (20), Lo’eau LaBonta (42), Nadia Nadim (9), Monica Ocampo (8)
For those who haven't been following the NWSL off-season, the big additions for Sky Blue has been the permanent Nadia Nadim, the trade for addition of Australian attacker Samantha Kerr and 2nd overall draft pick Sarah Killion. The team also traded away fullbacks Kendall Johnson and lost starters Jill Loyden and Coco Goodson to retirement.
Some more general thoughts on the roster
1. The R Word
Going into year three of the NWSL, everyone looked to the past and saw the history of the leagues folding. However the off-season talk has been about the high number retirements. Sky Blue lost both defender CoCo Goodson and Goal Keeper Jill Loyden to retirement. While Cameron has shown that she could successfully step into the starting spot between the sticks, the roster does not have a lot of experienced center backs for Sky Blue to call on.
2. Fullback depth may be a problem
The good news is that when they have their full team, Sky Blue have two great full backs in Kelley O’Hara (who’s versatility may see her play up top in Head Coach Jim Gabarra’s 4-3-3/4-2-3-1) and Caitlin Foord. Over the off season the team traded away up and down fullback Kendall Johnson. Expect Camille Levin to slide into one of the fullback spots but the other one is will most likely feature untested talent.
In the past goal scoring has been a big problem for the Sky Blue squad. That being said, when the team has its full roster they look dangerous on paper. While everyone is talking about the addition of Nadim, rightfully so given her goal scoring record, the addition of Kerr and the anticipated continued growth of Ocampo and Hayes gives the forward position some dangerous depth. Freels and Killion have shown that they can be dynamic this preseason controlling the midfield. Throw in two fullbacks, Foord and O’Hara, who quite familiar with the attacking half and the team looks to have the makings of a high powered offense.
While the full roster looks balanced the "depleted" Pre-World Cup Roster itself presents some questions in defense and attack. For example, who starts next to anticipated starter Lindsi Cutshall? While Jeff Kassouf at Equalizer Soccer is reporting that Grubka will start next to her, the question remains if the rookie from Florida State will be able to make the leap. Luckily, Captain Christie Rampone will be present for the first 3 games, and will hopefully help Grubka make a smooth transition.
On the offensive side, the loss of Ocampo and Kerr, will mean that Nadim and Hayes will have to score goals. It’ll also be interesting if Gabarra will stick to a 4-2-3-1 or adjust his formation to deal with absence of some of his international attacking power.
If you have any other thoughts or questions, don’t hesitate to contact me on twitter @Huanandonly or e-mail the Once a Metro Mailbag at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned to Once a Metro for your local Sky Blue coverage. We’ll be back with previews, recaps, and much much more.