The league carries over a handful of clubs from the heyday of WPS — The Ridiculously Named Sky Blue FC, Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, and the Western New York Flash — and adds a few clubs in some of the areas where MLS has thrived of late- welcome to the party Portland Thorns, Seattle Reign, FC Kansas City, and Washington Spirit. And from looking at the initial player allocations, it looks like Cascadia is going to fare pretty well. These are far from final rosters, but should give you a good sense of the way each team will set up. Join me after the jump for the teams and my initial thoughts.
Boston Breakers — Sydney Leroux (U.S.), Heather Mitts (U.S.), Heather O’Reilly (U.S.), Adriana Leon (Canada), Rhian Wilkinson (Canada), Anisa Guajardo (Mexico) and Cecilia Santiago (Mexico).
This side is interesting. Mitts, Wilkinson and O’Reilly make a pretty good foundation for the spine of the team, while Leon, Leroux and Guajardo are all secondary options for their national sides up front. If the forward three can get it going, they’ll be pretty tough.
Chicago Red Stars — Shannon Boxx (U.S.), Amy LePeilbet (U.S.), Keelin Winters (U.S.), Erin McLeod (Canada), Carmelina Moscato (Canada), Maribel Dominguez (Mexico) and Dinora Garza (Mexico).
This is probably the best midfield in the league, with Boxx, Moscato and Garza. Dominguez gives them an experienced option up front.
FC Kansas City — Nicole Barnhart (U.S.), Lauren Cheney (U.S.), Becky Sauerbrunn (U.S.), Desiree Scott (Canada), Lauren Sesselmann (Canada), Renae Cuellar (Mexico) and Marylin Diaz (Mexico).
Sauerbrunn and Sesselmann at the back lead a group made up of mostly national team backups. Lauren Cheney will seek to turn back the clock, but I don’t think, unless they can find a good non-allocated squad, this team will do better than bottom feeding.
Portland Thorns — Rachel Buehler (U.S.), Tobin Heath (U.S.), Alex Morgan (U.S.), Luz Saucedo (Mexico), Marlene Sandoval (Mexico), Karina LeBlanc (Canada) and Christine Sinclair (Canada).
I originally joked with Phil that this is what Arsenal would look like if they had finishers, but then this team is also solid at the back. Saucedo, Sandoval and Buehler should provide spine in defense, while Heath, Morgan and Sinclair are going to absolutely terrorize opposing defenses.
Seattle Reign — Megan Rapinoe (U.S.), Amy Rodriguez (U.S.), Hope Solo (U.S.), Kaylyn Kyle (Canada), Emily Zurrer (Canada), Jenny Ruiz (Mexico) and Teresa Noyola (Mexico).
Seattle, meanwhile, has the league’s best chance creator in Rapinoe, an up and coming striker in Rodriguez, and a solid backline led by Solo and Zurrer.
Sky Blue FC (Piscataway, N.J.) — Jill Loyden (U.S.), Kelley O’Hara (U.S.), Christie Rampone (U.S.), Sophie Schmidt (Canada), Melanie Booth (Canada), Monica Ocampo (Mexico) and Lydia Rangel (Mexico).
Washington Spirit — Ashlyn Harris (U.S.), Ali Krieger (U.S.), Lori Lindsey (U.S.), Robin Gayle (Canada), Diana Matheson (Canada), Alina Garciamendez (Mexico) and Teresa Worbis (Mexico).
I feel like both of these teams could combine, mecha-shiva style and still not trouble the Cascadian duo. Sky blue has the solid defense, Spirit have the have a good midfield foundation, but I don’t know they they even combine to have a better team than the initial players on both northwestern sides.
Western New York Flash — Carli Lloyd (U.S.), Abby Wambach (U.S.), Bryana McCarthy (Canada), Jodi-Ann Robinson (Canada), Veronica Perez (Mexico) and Pamela Tajonar (Mexico).
Lloyd, Robinson and Perez should provide a solid platform here for the rightful ballon-d’or winner Abby Wambach. This could be the surprise team.
Obviously, the teams still have to add about 11 players apiece just to field matchday squads, so there is definitely room for improvement. And the allocations were only from the North American powerhouses- note that NWSL has yet to allocate or sign any players from Japan, China, Sweden or Brazil. Also, The Canadian Goal Machine Melissa Tancredi will be sitting the season out, as she’s going back to grad school. But were I, say, (suck it) Marta, I’d be looking at the teams in the following order of attractiveness (if I wanted to win things, and not just be the main attraction):
Portland, Seattle, Boston, WNY, Chicago, Sky Blue, Washington, Kansas City.
Unless there are some major surprises in further signings, I’d expect the 2013 table to look like that when all is said and done.