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Independence look to add striker, goalkeeper in Draft

Now that we’ve got the men out of the way, it’s the women’s turn on Friday. The WPS Draft continues an exciting week of soccer from Kansas City as the Independence look to bolster their squad moving into 2012.

In speaking with Philadelphia coach Paul Riley this week, it appears the entire starting XI from last season’s WPS Final will be returning to Philadelphia. Kia McNeill, Jen Buczkowski, Sinead Farrelly, and Tasha Kai have already signed officially, and Amy Rodriguez, Tina Di Martino, Vero Boquete, Estelle Johnson, Leigh Ann Robinson, Nikki Krzysik, Nicole Barnhart, as well as Danesha Adams, all reportedly have verbal contracts with the Independence.  Added to that group, striker Meghan Lenczyk was officially announced yesterday and Riley admitted there would be two “huge” signings next week. One of those is expected to be former Atlanta Beat striker/midfielder Lori Chalupny, with the other signing expected to be a “top class” midfielder, according to Riley.

Riley seemed to have some clear cut goals in what Philadelphia would be going after.

“I think it’s positional based for us,” Riley said. “I think we need another forward, and we need another goalkeeper…a number 2 or 3 goalkeeper…If we could grab another midfielder if possible, that’d be great, but a forward is probably priority.”

With Kai, Lenczyk, Rodriguez, Adams, and potentially Chalupny joining up, it’s hard to see exactly what type of striker Riley will be after in the draft. But if it his top priority, look for Philadelphia to add another heart-on-her-sleeve type forward in the vein of Kai and Rodriguez.

The goalkeeper position appears to be the most pressing need for Riley and owner David Halstead to address in the draft. US Women’s National Team No. 2, Nicole Barnhart, looks to be the No. 1 for the Independence moving into 2012, but the star goalkeeper will likely miss a number of games while she trains for, and plays in, the Olympics in London. Reliable back up Val Henderson recently moved on to the Atlanta Beat to assume a full time starting role, leaving the Independence with just Barnhart moving forward. Look for Philadelphia to draft a goalkeeper with their second round pick to play as potentially a No. 3 keeper when Barthart is available and a No. 2 keeper when Barnhart is away on national team duty.

As they move into the third round, look for a depth midfielder to be added. Riley likes tough, versatile midfielders and if there is a player available that fits that mold in round 3, expect the Independence to make a move. Lori Lindsey, Joanna Lohman, Lianne Sanderson, and Laura del Rio all look to have played their last game in Philadelphia, so midfield depth will be important as players move in and out of the squad on national team duty as well as through injury.

Don’t be surprised if Philadelphia adds a solid defender if there is one available in the final round of the draft. The Independence were fortunate enough that the only four natural defenders in their line-up, McNeill, Krzysik, Robinson and Johnson, all made it through the 2011 season unscathed. Riley was hopeful that former Sky Blue FC defender Brittany Taylor would sign in Philadelphia. But expect Philadelphia to draft some depth in the defense if possible.

The draft takes place Friday at 2 pm EST and you can watch it live here. We’ll have a reaction to the draft up over the weekend, as well as reaction to any other possible player signings, in addition to coverage of the “huge” announcement next week of new signings.

One Comment

  1. I cannot believe that the league lost their Puma sponsorship and still hasn’t taken it off their website…

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