I decided to do a Season Ending review for all 10 #nwsl teams, where I just say who my team MVP is, the runners up, an ELO breakdown, and a good/bad vibe check.
Real nerd shit
Today, Racing Louisville.
She basically kept LOU watchable for stretches of the season. She moves extremely well into space, and is famously very very fast, which leads to other teams having to scheme against her. Not bad for an outside back for team that only scored 21 goals.
Even as an outside back for a team that allowed 40 (!), she was still extremely disruptive (being the best backliner in the league at interrupting other team’s attacks as a rookie). Without Fox, Lou could have been <20 gf, and 45ish goals against. Instead, they notched the most points of any expansion team.
Before her knee injury, she was really hitting a stride that had Louisville genuinely dangerous in attack, which they desperately needed. Her over Salmon because Salmon disappeared for long stretches on the field.
She’s a red ass who is reckless at times, but I just don’t see how Louisville could have run any of their transition without her as an outlet/distributor. Such as it was, ran a midfield line from the top that looked downright bad at times with out her. Deserves credit for Fox’s individual greatness from the back.
Why not Betos on the shortlist above? There are legitimately 8-9 very good keepers in the league, and LOU gave up 40 (!!) goals. Yeah she saved them from more at times, but the defense was disorganized a lot, despite ind. talents of Bonner and Riehl in the middle. Could Lund have done that? Maybe not, but I don’t know that she’d have been definitively worse, either.
Also, I’m a goalie disrespector.
Expansion teams start with 1500, so coming out of the CC up they ran some early season highs and lows before cratering and then being respectful vs. NJY. Double whammy of Holly/Nadim could have destroyed the season entirely.
They also picked up a bit of a bump when Ebony Salmon came over.
They caught some teams by surprise (Chi, Hou, NJYx2), won a “trophy” against Bayern. Had a 11 woman press that was up there with the best teams in the league. At times, very very fun to watch. A front three of Nadim, Salmon, Kizer with McCaskill right behind was menace.
If you’re by far the leakiest defense in the league, you need to be better than 2nd worst at scoring. Salmon played well for stretches, but disappeared for 6-7 games in the middle of the year. Riehl & Bonner had individually good seasons but never could really mesh. Olofsson was criminally bad which exposed the defense and offered nothing with the ball.
Kind of like KC, LOU has a bright future off the field, and a passionate fan base. But they need serious work on the field, and it’s going to start with a new coach who hopefully hadn’t left a previous job for dating a player.
I do wonder what would have happened if they didn’t essentially waste 6 expansion picks (Heath, Press, Kennedy, Foord, and the 2 lost picks for taking Heath/Press). Plus taking Lund & Betos when they could have taken Bixby+ another Portland player rather than Heath.
Hindsight thoughts on the expansion draft
Houston: Kizer and Simon. Kizer was a great pick (I really hated to see her go) and despite being bright at times, Simon was pretty much a wash. Prisock was coming off a strong 2020, and Bri Visalli was there.
Courage: Merrick and Milliet. Everyone expected them to take those two, and Milliet had a sold season before running out of steam at the end. Could have had Kayleigh Kurtz, Havanna Soluan, or Ally Watt.
Pride: Roord and Kennedy. For all the criticism they took over Press/Heath, this was the real shambles. Could have had Kristen Edmonds, and Carson Pickett (!!).
Thorns: Heath. Imagine if they took Bixby and Angela Salem? Also available: Westphal, Pogarch, Gabby Seiler, and Melissa Everett. Boureille. Franch or Sauerbraunn if they were determined to punt the pick in a different direction.
Reign: Betos and Ashley. Celia or Hammond were there at OB. Reign left 2 DM exposed that would have been much better than they had in Kentucky: Quinn (!!) and Dani Weatherholt.
Gothblue: Riehl and Cudjoe. They could have had…well Cudjoe, but they sent her back. Mandy Freeman, Didi Haracic, Estelle Johnson, Gina Lewandowski, and Caprice Dydasco (!!!!). Even with hindsight, i dont think you take Dydasco coming off a bad knee injury.
Kansas City Royals: Press. Gunny played pretty much every minute for Pride this year, and she could have done that for LOU. Mallory Weber had a low key pretty good year. Des Scott is the 5th (Scott, Weatherholt, Quinn, Salem, and Cudjoe) DM mentioned better than Olofsson, and the 2nd with a gold medal this year.
Spirit: Lund and McClure. Washington played this pretty well, with only Meggie Daugherty-Howard contributing much this season…but who knows what Natalie Jacobs would have done if she didn’t fuck off to less Burkian pastures.