JJ Duke takes a look at what the Chicago Red Stars might (and should) do in the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft. Chicago is coming off its second straight league playoff appearance and will be looking to bolster its squad and advance past the semifinals for the first time.
12, 16, 21, 28, 38
Summer Green (acquired from Seattle Reign FC)
Amanda DaCosta (traded to Boston Breakers)
Possible Draft Day Activity Level
The draft is where Head Coach Rory Dames builds his roster. He isn’t a coaches who elects to test international waters. Instead, he stays the course by mining every draft class in order to find the players who best fit into his team. Right now, more than half of the current Red Stars team were selected by Dames in the draft. For the coming season, he returns 19 of the 20 players on the roster from last season, losing only Amanda DaCosta in a trade with Boston. However, by bringing in Summer Green from Seattle to add depth up front, a draft pick from this year will have to dislodge someone from the current roster in order to earn a first-team contract.
What the Red Stars Need
Depth and scoring. By far the Red Stars were the lowest-scoring team that made the playoffs and two non-playoff teams surpassed them in that category as well. Christen Press led the way with eight goals but missed six games due to national team duties. Sofia Huerta had a very good season from a statistical point of view in 2016 — seven goals and two assists in 20 games. But a lot of those goals came when Press wasn’t in the lineup and it had to frustrate Dames to see Huerta’s goals dry up when Press returned.
After Press and Huerta, it was truly scoring by committee. Jen Hoy had two goals and in limited duty, Stephanie McCaffrey had a pair of goals after joining the team halfway through the season. That needs to change. With the Red Stars holding three picks in the last 12 overall selections, Dames will have to dig deep into his notes to find a gem (but then again, he unofficially leads the league in getting strong picks in the third and fourth round).
If the Red Stars go the route of selecting a striker with the 12th pick, something tells me that either Tyler Lussi of Princeton or Toni Payne of Duke will be available. Both are quality selections. Lussi will go down as one of the best strikers in Princeton’s history, scoring 53 goals and garnering NSCAA All-American honors twice. If Lussi goes to the Windy City, you might see a little Princeton chemistry up top with Hoy, who was no slouch in her collegiate days there either. Payne was always a constant threat in her four years at Duke and can play on the outside or centrally.
After that, you have to look at the Red Stars possibly selecting a defender in the late rounds for depth purposes. Dames has had a history of drafting a local product or two in the process, so keep an eye on Taylor Schissler, who featured in defense for DePaul and was named a First Team All-Big East selection this season.