In October the Western New York Flash made an announcement that bolstered their roster. While Charlie Naimo won’t be on the field, his impact as Technical Director will help the Flash as they enter the upcoming season
Ahead of the NWSL College Draft, the Flash has accumulated the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 18th and 21st overall draft picks.
With the 2015 NWSL season shortened to just 20 games the Flash have taken drastic measures to become more sustainable during the shortened season. In an attempt to be successful while facing the adversity of losing players to the upcoming World Cup they have made a flurry of player acquisitions while rebuilding their roster this offseason.
“This is one of the key factors why we are doing what we are doing,” Naimo said. “The team we are putting together will be built to sustain the absence of World Cup players and made to complement them upon their return. That is not to say non-World Cup players will lose their spots when the others return.”
Naimo went straight to work in the offseason roster rebuild, beginning with a blockbuster trade that sent U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Carli Lloyd to Houston in exchange for Becky Edwards, U.S. defender Whitney Engen and a third-round pick in 2016.
“Well [the Lloyd trade], came down to looking at the team as a whole – what were the remaining assets and what do we need to do to get better,” Naimo said. “Getting two major impact players that have already played and won a championship with the Flash was a decision that we thought would best benefit the club.”
Western New York then sent midfielder Angela Salem and defender Katherine Reynolds to the Washington Spirit for the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NWSL draft and midfielder Jordan Angeli. The Flash also traded away midfielder and former captain McCall Zerboni along with defender Kathryn Williamson to the Portland Thorns for midfielder Amber Brooks and signed defender India Trotter.
Naimo and the Flash want to go in a direction that featured the construction of a more balanced team, in terms of the production they’ve had in the past. The recent additions of Engen, Edwards and Brooks have added a dimension of skill and physicality to the club, along with depth. The Flash does not want to have to rely on just two stars, citing that some of the more successful clubs in the league have been more balanced teams.
“Amber certainly gives as a physical option and presence in the defensive midfield and a competitive spirit, which is something that we needed to add,” Naimo said. “The team’s spine has already gotten much better with [Brittany] Taylor, [Whitney] Engen, [Becky] Edwards and [Amber] Brooks, let alone the internationals and draft picks we will bring in. And India Trotter can also give us the presence in any role.”
Undoubtedly 2014 was a regrettable season for the Flash. Abby Wambach made only nine appearances, goalkeeper Adrianna Franch missed the entire season after tearing her ACL in preseason and Lydia Williams played in 14 matches before suffering an ACL tear on July 15. The club as a whole regressed from playing in the championship game to missing the playoffs outright.
Finding young players that are playmakers and can create scoring opportunities for Wambach will be the task at hand in the upcoming NWSL Draft.
“We are obviously building this team with Abby’s abilities in mind,” Naimo said. “We want her to have a successful World Cup and come back to a team full of young, talented professionals that want to play hard for the club. It really is the perfect scenario. The internationals that we are speaking with and the draft picks we have in mind are all the types that will fight for the Flash.”
The Flash have six draft picks this year, with four of them in the first round of what Naimo views as one of the best draft classes he’s seen in a while.
“This particular class is one of the most professional draft classes I have seen in a long time,” Naimo said. “Many of the top seniors have played for me and I have a lot to compare them to. The players we will get with the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th picks are not your average rookies. They are players that will make major contributions to the team immediately.”