Flash shore up defense through NWSL Supplemental Draft
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • February 07, 2013 @ 2:48pm
Highlighted by top defender Estelle Johnson, returnee Angela Salem and keeper Val Henderson, the Western New York added five new faces its 2013 NWSL roster today through the league’s supplemental draft.
Here are the selections made by head coach Aaran Lines, his staff and owner Joe Sahlen in today’s draft through a conference call. The Flash picked seventh in each of the six rounds, which unfolded via the NWSL’s Twitter account beginning at noon EST.
Round 1, Pick 7: Estelle Johnson, defender from University of Kansas and WPSL-Elite’s New York Fury
Round 2, Pick 7: Angela Salem, defender-midfielder from Francis Marion University at WPSL-Elite’s WNY Flash
Round 3, Pick 7: Kim Yokers, midfielder from University of California at Berkeley and New York Fury
Round 4, Pick 7: Val Henderson, goalie from UCLA
Round 5, Pick 7: Ashley Grove, forward from Maryland
Round 6, Pick 7: Pass
Through free agency and today’s draft, Lines has pried three players from Paul Riley’s New York Fury, a semifinalist in last year’s WPSL-Elite. Two midfielders—Brittany Taylor and Kim Yokers—join Lines’ corps, and defender Estelle Johnson, who started for the Philadelphia Independence against the Flash in the 2011 WPS Final, will immediately shore up the defense.
Salem, who converted the title-clinching penalty kick in the shootout of the WPSL-Elite Final against the Chicago Red Stars, returns for her second season as a defensive midfield anchor. She’s very poised on the ball and, despite her small stature (5’5), packs quite the punch going in on tackles.
She partnered well with Flash captain McCall Zerboni in patrolling the center of the midfield, shows poise on the ball and can strike from distance. I’m not sure if Lines will employ her in a more defensive role in 2012—a more defined ‘stopper’—but she’s an aggressive enough tackle and quick enough to keep up with pacey opposing midfielders.
Between Carli Lloyd, Zerboni, Yokers and Salem, Lines has an experienced and technically-sound midfield nucleus, and with U.S. international star Abby Wambach, free-agent signing and returnee Adriana, Mexican allocation Veronica Perez and youngsters Samantha Kerr and Grove, there’s a stable of striking talent as well.
Fourth round pick Val Henderson, a former UCLA keeper who earned 15 caps with the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team, will battle with first-round college draft pick Adrianna Franch for starting goalie duties. Henderson backed up U.S. international Nicole Barnhart for Riley’s Independence in 2011 as well, so she’s a more-than-capable backup.
Fifth-rounder Ashley Grove is a graduate of Aquinas Institute in Rochester, and she returns to the area after an up-and-down career at the University of Maryland. Grove wasn’t too highly ranked by blog All White Kit in advance of the 2012 WPS Draft, and she wasn’t selected.
Last year’s WPSL-Elite championship roster was well-represented—and well scattered—through today’s supplemental draft, as six former Flash players were chosen in the first three rounds. Former WNY winger Stephanie Ochs went first overall to Washington, Katy Frierson went fifth overall to Sky Blue, Tori Huster went as the first pick of round two to Washington, goalie Brittany Cameron went 13th to Sky Blue, Salem 15th to the Flash and reserve forward Laura Heyboer went 18th to Seattle.
Now that all four phases of adding players—the international allocations, the college draft, free agency and the supplemental draft—have unfolded, it’s time to speculate about Lines’ starting XI on opening day (see right).