Flynn’s Draft Preview: Midfielders
With just two days remaining until the 2012 WPS Draft in Kansas City on Friday, teams are putting the final touches on their draft lists and depth charts. There are hundreds of eligible players to choose from. While the 5 WPS teams have been tirelessly gathering intel on the players with their insider knowledge and scouting networks, the common fan isn’t going to put in that much work. That’s where I come in. This is the third in a four part series leading up to Draft Day 2012 detailing some of the likely players to get drafted, their backgrounds, and their accolades.
A very finicky position, the midfielders available in the 2012 WPS Draft will be subjected much more to WPS coaches’ tendencies and styles of play. Midfielders come in a wide variety, from holding/defensive types to quick wingers with a knack for goal, box to box hustlers to creative visionary playmakers, so their draft position could swing wildly depending on what the teams’ needs are. A deeper position relative to others, but beware. With the amount of free agents lurking around, many 2012 hopefuls may have to go the route of preseason training camps to latch on to teams.
NAMES TO KNOW
Teresa Noyola – Stanford
Mexican WNT (extensive USWNT youth experience)
2011 Hermann Trophy winner, 3-Time NSCAA All-American
Analysis: A well-travelled international, Noyola spent seemingly her whole childhood in the United States youth national team age brackets (exaggeration, but not really), before an allegiance switch to being a full-fledged international representing Mexico. An incredibly gifted, creative/attacking midfielder, she’s a lock for the first midfielder chosen in the 2012 draft with the departure of Ingrid Wells overseas.
Katy Frierson – Auburn
2-Time NSCAA All-American
USWNT U-23 (& U-20, U-17, etc.) experience
Analysis: Extremely hard worker who is seemingly tireless on the field, Frierson was First Team All-SEC for all 4 years she was with the Tigers. Good leadership abilities and a good heart will mix well chemistry-wise with whichever team selects her. Lack of speed and small frame project negatively, but other characteristics put her over the top.
Courtney Barg – Notre Dame
USWNT U-17 experience
Analysis: Unlucky with injuries for her junior and senior seasons at Notre Dame, Barg should hear her name selected with previously detailed defender (and childhood friend) Jessica Schuveiller as well as soon-to-be detailed player (and also childhood friend … protip for soccer parents: move into this neighborhood!) Melissa Henderson. Durability a question mark, but poise under pressure should make it easy for any team to find the link from defense to forward through her creative play.
Tori Huster – Florida State
USWNT U-23 experience
Analysis: An attacking midfielder who is more than capable of scoring goals when needed, Huster should be another player multiple teams will look at closely on Draft Day. Smartness on the field must have rubbed off from book-smarts, as she’s received numerous academic awards while at Florida State.
Jessica Luscinski – Boston
2-Time America East Striker of the Year
Analysis: Okay, I guess technically a “forward” on the field, Luscinski is listed as a midfielder and has the versatility to play there as well. Small stature would most likely see her transition into midfield at the professional level against bigger, stronger opponents. However, her skills and penchant for putting the ball in the back of the net will garner attention on Draft Day.
WILD CARD: Ingrid Wells – Georgetown, but now professionally in Sweden. She would have battled Noyola for top-midfielder billing, but elected to ply her trade overseas. However, this may not stop forward-thinking teams from drafting her. I caught up with Melanie Fitzgerald, Manager of League Operations for the WPS, in regards to her draft eligibility. The league policy is as such:
A Team that has drafted or otherwise acquired a player (the “Rights-Holding Team”), shall have the exclusive right to negotiate with that player for the longer of:
a. a period of one year, provided the team is able to evaluate the player* and has offered the player a full-time contract; or
b. if the player is under a non-WPS playing contract that prevents the Rights-Holding Team from immediately negotiating with the player, the period from the time the rights are acquired through the close of the first transfer window during which that player can be transferred without a fee, even if that is in a second year.
Meaning that with a large free-agent market, a team could theoretically take a flier on Wells (even though she’ll be initially unavailable) while filling their needs in the mean time with free agents. Once Wells becomes available, in layman terms, “dibs”.
Just something to discuss until Draft Day 2012.