Christie Rampone during the game on August 16, 2014.
Christie Rampone during the game on August 16, 2014.

2016 NWSL Preview: Sky Blue FC

Sky Blue FC

2015 Review

Record: 5-8-7, 22 points
Finish: Eight

Another year, another slow start and fast finish for Sky Blue as the New Jersey club finished second from bottom in the standings. After a stunning 1-0 win over defending champions FC Kansas City on the road to begin the season, Sky Blue didn’t win their second match until July 11th, defeating Portland 1-0, and going 0-6-4 between wins. But as this team has done in each of the past two NWSL seasons, they closed the season at a furious pace thanks in large part to Samantha Kerr scoring six goals in the team’s last nine matches. With only two points separating them from fifth place, they were right on the cusp of mid-table respectability despite the poor first half of the season.

Losses and Additions

The 2016 version of Sky Blue will have to replace four key fixtures, two of whom who have been constants since 2013. Midfielder Katy Freels announced her retirement after featuring in 65 of 66 matches — including starting in 64 — total regular-season games for the team since 2013. In defense, Lindsi Cutshall will be sitting out the season due to injuries and Brittany Cameron, after leading the NWSL in saves with 87 in 2015, opted not to return to New Jersey to continue playing with Vegalta Sendai Ladies in Japan. After becoming a fan favorite for the past two seasons in the Garden State, Nadia Nadim was traded on the morning of the 2016 NWSL College Draft.

The additions that Sky Blue have brought in could make up the difference as the team landed Hermann Trophy winner and Costa Rican international Raquel Rodriguez along with First-Team All-American goalkeeper Caroline Casey in the draft.

Positional Overview

There’s a lot of ifs and question marks on the field for Sky Blue. If it all goes correctly, this team could be bound for a playoff spot. If it doesn’t, it could be a long season. In goal, Caroline Stanley and Caroline Casey look to be a solid 1-2 punch but with Casey as a rookie and Stanley playing once last year for Seattle, there isn’t a lot of experience to work off of.

In defense, Caitlin Foord will miss time for the Olympics, Christie Rampone is coming off an injury and while she is on the outside of the U.S. Women’s National Team Olympic roster, she may also miss time. Kelley O’Hara may move back to an outside back position but similar to Foord, is almost a lock for the USWNT and will miss matches.

The midfield unit sees Sarah Killion return after a successful rookie season and a pairing with Rodriguez could be lethal. In terms of predicting who will play on the flanks, that’s up in the air. Up front, Kerr is effective when available but is coming off of an injury and will team up with Foord at the Olympics. Second-round draft pick Leah Galton might make her mark on the team this year, but there’s one other player who could make a bigger difference. Head to The It Factor section to find out who it is.

Off the Field

Sky Blue president and general manager Tony Novo made two moves in the offseason that will have a big impact  on the field and in the stands. First, Novo brought in Herm Sorcher, who has spent the better part of a quarter-century working in professional sports, as the vice president of business development. Sorcher has a solid track record, and with Sky Blue ranking at the bottom in average attendance (2,189 for 10 home dates), he will have his work cut out for him. On the field, Novo promoted Christy Holly to head coach, replacing Jim Gabarra, who left for the Washington Spirit. Holly served as an assistant under Gabarra and will bring some new ideas to the pitch for 2016, most notably on the attacking front.

The It Factor

February 11. Sky Blue tweeted out a video of their latest signing that made the collective mouths of the WoSo community drop. Yes, #BoomBam #MadaFaka is back in style (as if it ever left) as Natasha Kai signed for the 2016 season. And she has already made her presence felt in preseason by scoring in Sky Blue’s preseason win over North Carolina. While she hasn’t played professional soccer since 2011, if Kai can stay on the field the full season and replicate her goal-scoring form during her time in WPS, Sky Blue’s chances of making the postseason automatically increase.

2016 Opening Day Roster

20 of 20 spots filled:


  • Caroline Casey
  • Caroline Stanley
  • Defenders
  • CoCo Goodson
  • Kristin Grubka
  • Maya Hayes
  • Kelley O’Hara (Federation Player, USA)
  • Christie Rampone (Federation Player, USA)
  • Erin Simon
  • Erica Skroski


  • Kelly Conheeney
  • Shawna Gordon
  • Sarah Killion
  • Taylor Lytle
  • Ashley Nick
  • Raquel Rodriguez (International Player, Costa Rica)
  • Nikki Stanton


  • Kim DeCesare
  • Tasha Kai
  • Sam Kerr (International Player, Australia)
  • Danielle Schulmann