Feel the draft..?

Note that I will update this post as new players declare for the draft: last updated 1/11/24

As of this writing we have nine six five days one day until the 2024 NCAA NWSL draft.

Another wonderful graphic from the gifted Yaoyao Ma Van As; “Instant Stress”

Also as of the original posting (Wednesday, January 3rd) the sale of the Thorns to the RAJ Group headed by members of the Bhathal family has been finalized. We finally have a stand-alone “Thorns FC” owner and club organization.

Mind you, that means that RAJ is going to have roughly ten weeks to stand things up before the first kickoff of 2024. I’m hearing that much of the Peregrine FO is going to be here at least through the winter to manage the transition, and possibly beyond. The Bhathals have sports-ownership-experience but no soccer-ownership-experience, so I can’t see how they can get their own people in quickly.

So presumably now-ex-Peregrine-and-at-least-temporarily-RAJ GM Karina LeBlanc and head coach Mike Norris will still be in charge of draft day (and, probably, all the way into the season…but we’ll see as I discuss at the end of this piece).

That means those two will choose eligible college-age players using the club’s (again, as of this writing) five picks:

11th overall (11th pick in the first round),
23rd overall (9th pick in the second round – this was from the 2022 trade with ACFC),
25th overall (11th pick in the second round),
39th overall (11th pick in the third round), and
53rd overall (11th pick in the fourth round.

In this post I’d like to discuss 1) the current state of the roster, 2) the apparent needs of that roster, and 3) the likely-looking draftees who could be useful filling those holes.


State of the Roster:

As of November 30th – the last time we heard anything comprehensive about the state of the squad – the Thorns had 16 players under contract for next season.

Of those 16 two – Emily Menges and Hannah Betfort – were traded for expansion draft protection, leaving only 14. A fifteenth, Gabby Provenzano, is supposed to have been tendered and offer and is in negotiations

Two players were waived; Natalie Beckman and the Otherwise Inexplicable Rikke Sevecke. Both are gone, and I cannot find evidence that either has been picked up anywhere. Rumor has it that Sevecke is injured.

On 11/30 the Thorns had eight free agents. Two are gone; Michele Vasconcelos was not tendered an offer and has now signed with the Utah expansion franchise. Crystal Dunn noisily exited the club before the end of the season and has signed with NY/NJ Gotham.

Of the remaining six, two are “restricted” free agents, meaning that the Thorns can match or beat any outside offer for Natalie Kuikka and Taylor Porter. Neither has been reported as having been re-signed.

Four – Christine Sinclair, Tegan McGrady, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Meghan Klingenberg – are “unrestricted” free agents, meaning they can accept any offer without giving the Thorns a chance to meet it. None of these four has been reported as under contract, either.

But before we go on…

A Brief Reminder About Peregrine Sports:

To repeat something I’ve said here repeatedly; Peregrine is the World’s Biggest Utter Shit at Communications. They’re terrible, the worst. Their ideal form of “communication” is glum silence, and that was before they lost the “director of communication” to Bay City this past autumn.

Year after year I’d wait to write a piece about the preseason roster only to wait and wait and wait and get nothing from the club. Zero. Zip. Nada. Instead, the Thorns version of “Kremlinology” was peering at snapshots from the first day of training to guess who’d been signed by who was present: “Is that Carpenter? Looks like Carpenter! No? Who the hell is that, then..?”

So here’s what we know:
1) There are a total of seven players from 2023 that have not been announced as having been re-signed for 2024, but
2) Peregrine Sports is notorious for not announcing news like contracts, so
3) They may have been re-signed. Or not. Because when you’re dealing with Peregrine,
4) The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

And tight now that’s ALL we know. We’ll have to see if the Bhathals have anything more ambitious planned, like actual “communications” of things like signings. I won’t be shocked if we’re deluged with a wave of signing announcements over the next couple of days.

But: here’s what the pitch looks like this very moment:

Couple of things about this.

I’ve put Hina Sugita there twice, because I’m honestly not sure what Mike Norris is going to do with her next season.

In 2023 he used her most often at right wing, but that was because Janine Beckie was out with a SEI. Now that Beckie’s back, does he move Hina-san to her natural #10? That would make sense! But 1) when do “Mike Norris” and “that makes sense as a matchday XI” appear in the same sentence, and 2) what then to do about Captain Sinclair?

So I dunno; could be RW, could be ACM.

The other thing is…look at the distribution of bodies!

As of 1/3/24 the Thorns are overrun with left backs (assuming as I did that you put Reyna Reyes there, which seems plausible because it was her best position in 2023) and keepers.

But there’s no depth on the wings, none at all at centerback (even if you put Nally there; it’s her weakest position), and right back (tho that’s a Nally-reserve-possible position…).

There’s really nobody behind Weaver at left wing (I was unimpressed with Beckie in her shifts there, and I think Norris’ go-to is Sugita-senshu at RW and Beckie as winger depth, left and right…)

Center forward? Depends on whether you think Izzy D’Aquila has any sort of growth potential. She was pretty dire in 2023, but she’s young, and young players develop in spurts.

Here’s another possible look, with the club in the double pivot:

Kind of the same problem; no depth anywhere but at left back, plus some big questions still open elsewhere because of 1) our lack of solid news regarding re-signing free agents and 2) the value of players we saw nearly nothing of in 2023 such as Provenzano and McGrady, and 3) players who disappointed when we did see them such as D’Aquila and Nally.

So what does this squad need?

Obviously depth almost everywhere. But some positions lack starting quality. Let’s work our way forward. Who needs help?

Update 1/11/24: Here’s an interesting graphic courtesy of our premiere college knowledge guy, Chris Henderson. In case scale makes it hard to read, the keys are player position from GK at left working up to F at right and player need from critical-red to none-green.

I’m intrigued because while I generally agree on his Thorns-needs colors I’d consider (as we’ll discuss) centerback orange should be red, whether Sauerbrunn returns or not, and I’m baffled as to where Henderson thinks all those forwards are coming from? Green? No! Yellow at best and probably orange.

But we’ve already got there, so let’s go.



The only real question is “Hogan or Bixby?”. To my mind Bella Bixby’s value was destroyed in Los Angeles last October. Even if her confidence can be restored, that debacle repeatedly highlighted severe technical problems she had all season and should not, as a player of her vintage, continue to display.

Hogan. Kozal as backup, Bixby as third string.


Yes, but not critical.

Presuming Kuikka and Klingenberg re-sign there’s starting quality in Reyes on the left, Kuikka on the right, and Klingenberg as depth on the left, Reyes as depth on the right, and Nally as third-string depth for both. I’m honestly unsure what the hell to do with McGrady; she seems likely to be decent depth, but we’ve seen so little of her it’s hard to tell if it’s even worth holding a roster spot for her.

But the quality is tenuous. Kuikka had some utterly appalling outings in 2023, Klingenberg is being hunted by the reaper, and McGrady is a complete blank. Reyes is the only solid-looking FB, and she’s very young.


Ohhellyes. Critical

To my mind this is the single most critical area of need. Right now the Thorns have a senior citizen with a history of recent injury (Sauerbrunn), a veteran who returned to her appallingly derp-prone form of earlier seasons last year (Hubly), and two low-quality reserves (Nally and Provenzano).

At least one starting-quality centerback is an essential get, and a second if possible, and a solid reserve if not a second starter. Put “centerback” at the top of the shopping list, then.

And this is a position I’d be thrilled if the new owners didn’t fill through the draft but traded or dealt for a professional. I’d love to see the Bhathals poach Moeka Minami from AS Roma. If that’s the very next press release? I’ll be a happy camper.

Update 1/8/24 (p.m.): The club announced the signing of Danish centerback Isabella Obaze…

…from Rosengard.

She’s tall and young and while she’s technically a professional her professional experience is limited to the first half of Rosengard’s 2023-34 season. So still learning her trade.

One thing I noticed while poring over the SofaScore site I linked to above is that Obaze’s ratings have kind of a pattern; in the Damallsvenskan matches she’s nearly almost in the 7.0 range (i.e. “good game”). In the Champions League matches? Not so much; 6’s, mostly (“decent game”). As you can see above, when compared to an international in peak form Obaze isn’t there yet.

But remember my wanting to sign Moeka Minami? Wellll

How ’bout that?

So well done, new owners and LeBlanc or whoever else was involved; this looks like a promising young player.

But we still need centerback depth, and the draft is a good place to go fishing.

Defensive Midfielders

Only depth, if possible.

Sam Coffey is the best in the league. Meaning she’s likely to get an Olympic callup and be gone for other WNT matches. Rodriguez is a Costa Rican international, so similar issues. Taylor Porter is not starting quality, and while Olivis Moultrie is a solid midfield player she’s primarily an attacker. I’m not sure whether any of the other reserves could fill in here; I think Provenzano has played in midfield and wasn’t horrific.

So kind of a “second or third round” need. This isn’t a “sell the cow for magic beans” deal. But a decent cheap DM? That’d be great.

Attacking midfielders

Not really. Like the DMs, depth if possible.

Between Moultrie, Sugita, and Rodriguez the front side of starting midfield is solid. Sinclair kind of depends on whether she and Norris will insist on starting her; if so, no. She’s barely depth at this point.

It’d be nice to think that current reserves like Porter or Provenzano could step up here, but a decent new reserve might be worth a lower round pick or a bargain trade, just like the DMs.


Depth, absolutely yes.

Assuming Beckie shows better than she has to date both starting wingers are either decent or outstanding. But D’Aquila hasn’t shown anything at center forward but was even less effective as a winger, and there’s no one behind her.

This and center forward are the “right behind the centerbacks” needs.

Center Forward

Again, depth if possible.

There’s no one who can be Sophia Smith. But even a legend needs a break now and then, and Hannah Betfort proved that even a tough, high-energy forward can’t play Smith hero-ball the way Smith does.

We’ll talk more about this moving on towards Opening Day, but Smith needs a decent backup. If D’Aquila can be that? Great, but she’s showed little signs of it as of now. If not, the Thorns really need a good reserve forward. As noted above, this is a “high-second-in-line” need to pick up.


  1. Starting centerback
  2. Reserve centerback (or second starting CB)
  3. Starting/reserve fullback? Possibly reserve winger here, instead.
  4. Reserve center forward
  5. Reserve midfielder

Five needs, five picks. Nice how that works, eh? Let’s take a look, then!

Meet the Draftees

Chris Henderson has published his usual invaluable table of potential draftees. Let’s see what he’s got:

Centerback Draftees

As of today (1/5/24) Henderson has fifteen players in his “Tier A”. Here’s the best twelve, with Top Drawer Soccer’s Top 100 national ranking (in parentheses) if they’re ranked; Kennedy Wesley (7), Eve Gaetino (10), Maycee Bell (15), Hannah Anderson (28), Samantha Cary (65), Bridget Rieken, Celia Gaynor, Ashley Barron, Victoria Haugen, Maggy Henschler, Cori Dyke, Autumn Weeks, and Talia Staude.

Let’s look at the top of this list:

Kennedy Wesley (Stanford) is a grad student (i.e. fifth-year redshirt) from California. She’s short for a centerback (5’5″) but must leap like a salmon – she won almost 64% of her aerial duels last season.

Henderson likes her, rating her fourth in his “Tier A” group. Not surprising; she won 73% of her defensive duels and passes well (72% completed including 47% of her long passes).

Noted in passing is that she attended a Christian high school; nothing wrong with that, but let’s not forget the Nasello Incident and the Daniels Dilemma. In 2024 America religious fundamentalism often equates to reactionary politics. Hopefully she’s kept her socials free from that kind of stuff or, if not, that the club checks first…

Eve Gaetino (per Henderson) has withdrawn her name from the draft. Checking the final list her name has disappeared, so he’s correct.

Maycee Bell (University of North Carolina) is a redshirt senior out of Kansas. Tall (5’11”) but surprisingly mediocre in the air (54% of aerial duels won).

Henderson ranked her seventh of his top tier ten based on her overall duels-won ranking (63%).

Hannah Anderson (Texas Tech) is a grad student and another tall drink of water (5’10”) and is in the top three aerial threats (63% duels won).

Overall, though, she won only 58% of her defensive duels. She’s a good passer – 75% completion overall and 47% of her long passes (and the Tier A centerbacks typically completed only about 30-40% of their long passes) and successful making progressive runs out of the back.

Samantha Cary (Iowa) out of Missouri is only 5’8″, another redshirt senior. Henderson likes her defensive duel percentage – 72%, third-best – but her passing is pretty shifty; only 59% completed.

Unsurprisingly she only won 46% of her aerial challenges. She’s also got another worrying stat; her “lost balls” (I can’t find how Henderson defines this but I’m guessing a mix of turnovers from tackles-for-loss and passes) exceeds her tier by almost a factor of two; almost everyone else is in the 7-9 losses per match range. Cary is over 17. Ouch.

Bridget Rieken (Washington State) is a six-footer out of Idaho.

She’s not ranked by Top Drawer but has some of the best metrics of Henderson’s Tier A group; 76% overall defensive duels won, including 58% in the air, and a terrific passer out of the back (51% long pass completion).

Update 1/11/24: Henderson has an interesting addition to his centerback list in Savy King, freshman out of North Carolina.

King is, obviously, young (19) and only average size (5’6″) for a centerback but seems to be really well regarded. She was on the US U-20’s that were the CONCACAF runners-up.

Henderson has her at the top of his list, the only “five star” centerback on a 1-5 scale; to give you an idea of how much he likes King the top centerback on this page, Kennedy Wesley, Henderson rated “four stars” (but at left back), and Maycee Bell, Top Drawer’s #15 nationally get only three stars at centerback and is down at #8 on Henderson’s CB sheet.

So, okay; super promising (but very young) potential international that Henderson says he’d take with Utah’s #1 overall pick. Hmmm.

Any of these young players could be a promising addition.

But, again, I think the Thorns’ backline needs steel, and more than a rookie – even King! – will provide. My hope is that the Bhathals deal for a professional centerback in her prime.

We’ve mentioned Minami. How about Mapi Leon at Barca? Stealing her away would also solve the left back issue. Unfortunately she’s down with a torn meniscus, so not for the coming season, but long term? Worth at least a shot, if the Bhathals are throwing money.

Maybe her teammate Irene Paredes?

At this point it comes down to whether the Bhathals have the kind of silly money it’d take to pull these kinds of internationals. Right now we don’t know.

Other defensive backs

Makenna Morris (Clemson) is a 5’5″ true senior right back out of Maryland. She’s #2 on Henderson’s Tier A RBs and #12 overall on Top Drawer’s national rankings.

Morris was an assist monster at Clemson her senior year; serving up 5 on an xA of about 4.2 in a tier where assists typically ran from 0-3. Decent defending (about 63% of her duels won), okay passer that looks likely to push up.

Henderson has several decent left backs on his list, but PTFC needs another left back like we need a hole in the head.


The one that jumps out at me is Courtney Brown, 5’7″ grad student and defensive midfielder out of Utah

She’s not nationally ranked but her metrics look terrific; she won 64% of her defensive duels in her senior year, and that was heavily involved – over nine per match in a Tier A group that averaged closer to seven. She can provide (xA 0.21 per 90) and score (3 goals on an xG of about 2.6).

Update 1/5/24: Brecken Mozingo, 5/6″ true senior out of BYU, is ranked #2 overall by Top Drawer soccer.

She’s rostered as a forward/midfielder at BYU tho Top Drawer lists her as a midfielder. Henderson lists her as a winger, tho her senior stats (83 shots in 25 appearances, 38 on frame, 14 goals tho 5 were PKs) suggests a bit more of a true striker; she led all BYU players in 2023 in goals scored. Given her c.v. might be a stretch to see her lasting into the second round.


Update 1/6: A big name jumped in late this week: Lauren Flynn, 5’6″ senior from Florida State.

I’m putting her with the forwards because she’s ranked #6 nationally at Top Drawer as a forward. However, it looks like she was shifted to the backline in 2023 and FSU has her listed as a defender. I’m guessing centerback, but fullback is a possibility.

That kind of versatility could be a big help for filling Portland’s gaps. With her c.v. she’s a likely target, though. We’ll see if she hangs on late in the round…

Most of the other big names haven’t declared yet, and at #11 it’ll be unlikely that – if they do – they’ll still be on the board when the Thorns have a chance at them.

It’d be terrific to nab Lexi Missimo out of Texas, or Onyi Echegini out of FSU (16 goals in 23 games? Ohhellyes! That’s worth an international slot!)…but I don’t have any real favorites yet. We’ll have to check back next week to see how many new names are on the board.

Unknown Unknowns

The sale has thrown a lot of turbulence over the club’s immediate future. And I get it; that can be scary!

But those winds can also be a good thing – they can clean out stale air and bring in a fresh breeze – so we shouldn’t be nervous about what’s going on behind it.

But it makes the run-up to the draft harder to predict.

Who’s actually going to be calling the shots? The wording of the Oregonian piece about the sale was odd; it described Karina LeBlanc as “…widely expected to continue in a leadership role on the soccer side of the club’s new front office.”


If she’s going to be the GM why not say “continue as general manager”? Did the “Thorns spokesperson” Ryan Clarke cites as his source deliberately avoid saying that to smoke over KK getting eased upstairs?

The same source says that RAJ will “take over soccer operations immediately”. That seems to include coaching and training, so does that include a headhunt for new gaffer?

If so it will probably be done on the downlow; announcing publicly that Mike Norris is on the way out is how you undermine a coach’s position. Better, if RAJ is going to give him the boot ASAP, to just come out with it and get your new manager in. Will they?

Selfishly – because Norris seems like a decent man, well-liked by his players, and I hate to wish bad cess to him – I do hope the new owners are looking. It’s possible that Norris has grown from last season. But I’m not confident, and more than any draftee the most critical piece for the Thorns to bring in is a manager with a clear, consistent, creative, effective vision of the club on the pitch.

For that, however, we’re just going to have to wait and see, I suspect.

Personal favorites?

So…anyone with a favorite player – draftee or professional – they’d like to see here? Let’s be realistic; no, Lindsey Horan or Tobin Heath ain’t coming back – but beyond that?

Let’s discuss in the comments!

John Lawes
Latest posts by John Lawes (see all)

18 thoughts on “Feel the draft..?

  1. It feels like Gotham has snatched up all of the best NWSL free agents. Meaning we’ll have to look abroad for top-notch players, and since it’s mid-season almost everywhere, we’ll have to pay transfer fees for them. So a bunch of our cap money will have to go to that instead of free-agent salaries…. another casualty of KK’s inaction this offseason. Aaaaargh.

    On a side note, how the hell does Gotham manage to sign all those players and stay under the salary cap?!

    1. So…1) Re: Gotham…they probably don’t. If they worried that the league would sanction them they’d probably come up with some sort of financial gimmick to work around the cap. But after the crickets we heard after the blatant cheating involved in the OL/OLR French mercenary shenanigans? I’m sure they’re not worried.

      2) I’m happy to slag off on LeBlanc – I don’t think she’s very good at her job – but I think she gets a pass for this offseason. Paulson wasn’t going to drop any coin and the Bhathals couldn’t. I’m not sure if she could have done anything, but the externals suggest probably not.

      Either way…yes, it’s going to make things more difficult for the rebuild. We might have to look deep in the Euro or South American or Asian weeds, and I’m damn sure we don’t have the scouting to do that well.

  2. P.S. Really sad news about Rikke Sevecke having to retire because of a heart condition. Best wishes to her in whatever she chooses to do.

    I have to wonder if she was the Thorns’ plan for shoring up our back line, a plan that’s now all in pieces. The silence from our front office is deafening.

    1. Yeah, that was painful to hear, to be fighting that so young, Sport is a tough living.

      I’m guessing she was at least part of the plan at CB. As for the FO…I guess my thought would be…what could they say? “Sorry, sucks to be you and sucks for us”?

      I’d be curious to know if Peregrine got a physical clearance before signing her. If they did, then either the doc was incompetent or they fucked up and misread it. Not sure how you miss a life-threatening heart condition…

      Mind you, this kind of comes back to the whole “Who does Peregrine have scouting players?” It isn’t the first time they got burned on stuff like this; think Nasello or Sandra Yu, or Brian Hernandez on the Timbers side. Hopefully the Bhathals invest in better scouting and player development.

      1. Re Peregrine and the physical, perhaps the deal would have been made formal only after her physical exam — I think that’s how it’s usually done — and the physical turned up the problem. So perhaps she was never contractually a Thorn, or was contracted to be on the team pending the physical. KK or whoever decided to announce it because it seemed pretty certain – how often do players fail physicals? – only to have it all go south.

        Who knows, really.

        1. And a heart problem at 27? How often does THAT happen?

          Just hard, hard for her and all her friends and loved ones who shared her dream.

  3. On the Defensive line I liked what you reported on Hannah Anderson and Bridget Reiken a WSU grad that is tall and looks strong sounds an interesting prospect. For the midfield what they are saying about Courtney Brown suggests she would be good cover for Coffey.
    On the forward line I have actually watched Onyi Echegini play and she looks ready to start in the NWSL as does her freshman teammate Jordynn Dudley. True that Onyi will be playing for Nigeria so she will not always be available. I feel awful saying this but maybe Dudley could be coaxed out of college early.
    Sigh… too bad we couldn’t bring back Yaz Ryan.

    1. I’d love to bag Echegini…but I’m gonna bet she’s gone by the 11th pick. If she’s not…well, we still need a starting centerback more, so…but I’m hoping the new owners are already scouring land and sea for a veteran professional to plug in there, so perhaps…perhaps.

      Worth noting: Lauren Flynn, defender out of FSU, has declared. Top Drawer #6 overall. FSU rosters her as a defender but she has also played up front, so very versitile!

      1. I just watched her hat trick against North Carolina State. Incredible, she is one active player in the mosh pit. Definitely take her if available, she also seems to be very durable as well.
        Yeah, maybe she won’t be available by the 11th pick, but I remember wanting Morgan Weaver and that seemed unrealistic, but Parsons traded up and got her at two. I was like Wow a dream come true, but is Weaver better than Ashley Sanchez? Well I think she is now!

  4. Looking at some of the predicted draft picks from various sources it is hard to say who will be available at 11 in the first round. Either this is a deep pool or there are a lot of good players and not a clear first five. But the Thorns seem to have grabbed a Danish international Centerback Isabel Obaze 5’10” and a former Full back only 20 years old.
    Probably depth mostly this year but very promissing.

    1. Added Obaze, and she’s worth a look; see how she compares to the professional I was liking, Moeka Minami – they’re practically twin sisters of a different mother. This is a very promising young player.

      1. I watched highlights or should I say low lights against Barca in Champions league. The score was 5-0 and she seemed sort of OK, but not great. However, against Las Galacticas, few defenders are going to look very good. She did seem calm, but Barca was carving them up.
        Listening to the interview before the World Cup she appears to have her head screwed on and very self critical of her performance at that point with her National team. I think she will grow into a starter fast, but she might have a rough start. What she has is a huge upside. This was a good get, but I will feel a lot better when they sign Sauerbrunn and Kuikka. Also, Kuikka is a Center Back for Finland so that is an Ace in the hole for that position.

  5. Thanks John for this column–super helpful analysis in what seems like an info vacuum. Looking forward to hearing your when the draft fires up.

    1. I typically do a “Drafts and Deals” post right after the draft and plan to do one for this. I’ll also us it discuss the (to me) peculiar coaching hire of Sarah Lowdon as Norris’ assistant as well as the Obaze signing.

  6. My concern is CB is such a high demand position that the good ones will be gone by the time the Thorns pick. That being the case, Thorns should go conservative and old school: take the most talented player available regardless of position. Parsons was a good scout and judge of talent. (He scouted a couple of OSU women’s matches). I don’t want him in the box, but scouting talent. Yeah, that would work.

    1. I tend to agree that Parsons looks like a promising potential GM…with the caveat that it’s hard for me to be sure how much was him alone and how much was the Vulcan mind meld between him and Gavin Wilkinson. I know that GW was kind of a shit person, but he made a pretty fair number of good deals, at least in NWSL 1.0.

      As far as the picks go…take a look up at Henderson’s “team needs” table. Basically he’s got one team with critical CB needs – Chicago – and four that need at least depth or an upgrade; us, Utah, San Diego, and Racing.

      Of the four, San Diego picks 12th overall unless they trade up, so at least for now they’re out of the picture. Chicago has critical needs at GK, and big holes to fill pretty much everywhere else other than midfield…so there’s no real telling where they’re gonna jump.

      Utah is gonna go with the likely – as you suggest – “best player”. ESPN has a top 15 list, with Kennedy Wesley at #2 and Savannah King (see the latest update) at #3, and they get two bites before we get a nibble (their natural #1 and the #4 they got from KC). So one or both of those players is likely to be gone by our #11.

      Racing also gets in before we do, at #6 overall…but Henderson, at least, considers their biggest need is up front for a winger. So if they agree with him that might leave a good centerback on the board for us.

      Or not! This is where all the strategizing fails; as we used to say in the Army, no plan survives contact with the enemy. We’ll see tomorrow how well the newly-RAJ-refurbished KK and Norris have done their planning…

  7. Thanks for this write-up John!

    I don’t have the time or brain space to organize my thoughts better (thanks covid!) so this will probably just be stream of consciousness style rambling haha, but….I think Henderson missed the mark for the Thorns a little bit, as you mention. Even if Brunn re-signs, we need a promising CB and it should be our first pick considering the defensive depth in general of this draft class (I guess I just mean CB/RB- but two of our needs, so, GOOD!) Depending on if Kuikka re-signs, we either need one starting quality RB AND a backup, or, just a backup (which we can pick-up in the draft, I think…it’s a decently deep RB class.) LB we’re probably good on considering at least one of Kling or McGrady will prob be back and this LB class is barren. About 4 quality RB’s in this class according to Henderson (3 “4 star” and 1 “3 star”.) We may be able to pick one up in the 2nd round also, if we’re lucky. Zoe Burns has 3 stars here, but is a WA native, so pretty local. Would be nice to have as a Kuikka backup (assuming she comes back.) If she’s not coming back, I hope they’re in the market for a quality starting RB and not counting on the draft for that.

    RB’s: https://twitter.com/chris_awk/status/1745499432768954544

    CBs: https://twitter.com/chris_awk/status/1745344671449072079

    I’d love if we could shave off some of our CB/DMF players, like Porter, Provenzano, or Nally. Maybe not all of them (we need Porter unless we can get an upgrade in the draft), but maybe we can package them with some picks to move up. Unfortunately we just need bodies at this point, but we have a glut of players that are unused AND we already have too many (ie…if Brunn re-signs, we have 5 CB’s and I think we still need another starter….so, we’d have 6.) Get rid of at least Nally or Provenzano. I’ve seen a mock draft having Portland taking Talia Staude…Henderson has her at 4 stars in his star system, and second to King. Cori Dyke might be good to have for both CB depth and DM…Henderson has her as likely moving to DM, but she’s got CB experience. She’s also from Colorado and a Penn State player, who we’ve done well drafting from. Kennedy Wesley is also supposed to be super promising. And last of the 4 stars, Lauren Flynn is versatile as a winger as well as listed as a CB (??) I don’t know much about her but I tend to really like FSU players and she’s been highly touted. At 3 stars, Maycee Bell might be another to look for and she’s a giant. Really, I think we should use our first pick for any of those and I think it’s likely we get one of ’em.

    CDM: https://twitter.com/chris_awk/status/1745561539132723696

    There’s lots of 3-star CDMs and 1 4-star here, so maybe we can get lucky and grab a 3-star later. She can challenge Porter for the roster spot (who actually hasn’t re-signed yet but I’m guessing doesn’t have many options so prob will.) Waive the player who doesn’t cut it.

    I really like Croix Bethune, Maya Doms, and Ally Sentnor (all 4-stars) and would be ecstatic to get any of them, but they’re in probably our least needed position….if one of them exists at 11, I still think we need to take a CB/winger.

    Wingers: https://twitter.com/chris_awk/status/1745598046560567463

    Lastly, I’d love if KK can somehow package later picks/money/current players to move up to early second round so we can hopefully grab a quality winger from this class as well (because there are a lot of valuable picks here also- this draft has numbers in a lot of our needs, which is good) Maybe trade up some of the mid-rounds and try to get nearer to our first pick to get 1 quality winger. No doubt Utah will be picking Mozingo with either their first or second pick…though I’m leaning towards first because they are so BYU-centric and because she’s kind of a hometown hero. Would be a big statement to be the first pick and build around her. As you mention, she’s prolific and talented, but she’s not a F. She’s more an attacking mid that likes to float wide. Maybe Utah would give up their 4th pick for a “ready-now” type of player since they have the 1st pick already. We don’t have a ton to offer that wouldn’t hurt, but those are the decisions you have to make sometimes to make the team better. I’d hate to lose Rocky (or maybe even Hubly- though we need our CB’s), but would they be good trade bait for a early first round pick for a team needing experience and would be a starter NOW? I’d throw Janine Beckie in there first actually (I’d offer her up for a trade into the first round in a heartbeat, but I think she’s immune bc her KK relationship….which sucks.) Anyways, lots of 4 and 3-star players in the winger class.

    The CF class is weak and not really worth taking from imo, so we either get another in a trade, or we stick with D’Aquila. I’d try to strike a deal with Bay FC (they need strikers and bc D’Aquila knows all of the owners bc of her Santa Clara ties) to nab one of their earlier picks, but then we’d need to acquire a sub striker elsewhere…

    Anyways, someone mentioned Onyi Echegini, whom I’ve mentioned numerous times on STF in the past because I knew she was special. I would’ve LOVED to have her here. Unfortunately, before she even graduated she signed with Juventus. Jordan Dudley also from FSU (a Freshman!) is a 9 and looks pro-ready. Would kill to have her also. She has got some insane talent and I’d try to coax her into the pros early if I were a GM. Also ready like Jody Brown and Beata Olsson (a Swede who actually just went straight to the Swedish league unfortunately.) Olsson was a super fun and technical winger/9 and is reeeally fast and good. Wanted her to declare also, but no luck. Funny enough, she has a relationship with our new assistant coach Sarah Lowdon….I saw her commenting on all of Sarah’s posts about coming to Portland. If she can get her to come here in the future, it will have been worth it haha.

    Ok well I’m hitting a wall with other players to cover (and I should be working) so I’ll leave it at that! Just wanted to get in here before the draft. I didn’t edit either so there are likely many typos. 🙂 Thanks again for all of this! I look forward to seeing who we’ll bring in tomorrow (and hope they don’t fuck up this draft lol.)

    1. Sorry this went up so late, because there’s a lot of good thoughts here. Looks like we both overestimated how concerned the FO was about the centerbacks. I’m still not really convinced, but we’ll see if they got this one right.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.