Sky Blue FC finished the 2014 season just one point shy of a playoff spot at 9-8-7, winning six of its last eight matches through the final two months of the season. The late-season hot streak coincided with Danish striker Nadia Nadim’s arrival in the Garden State.
Nadim was signed on June 18 and made her debut two and a half weeks later in a 5-0 loss to FC Kansas City. She scored seven goals and added three assists in just six matches for Sky Blue. Her status for 2015 is uncertain, which could pose trouble for Sky Blue as only Houston scored fewer goals.
Kelley O’Hara also came alive on the scoresheet, scoring seven goals and adding five assists in 22 matches. She played primarily up top after spending the 2013 season switching between left back and forward. While Sky Blue would love for O’Hara to regain the form she had at Stanford, O’Hara will potentially miss significant time with the U.S. women’s national team.
Maya Hayes struggled early on in the season but seemed to get comfortable with Nadim’s arrival. She could be left to shoulder the majority of the scoring with Monica Ocampo, Jonelle Filigno and O’Hara all missing time with international duty.
With Caitlin Foord missing a chunk of the season early on with national team duty, Sky Blue could be in the market for a right back to fill in during Friday’s draft. Kentucky’s Arin Gilliland is a speedy outside back who is also able to play up top and Virginia’s Danielle Colaprico is a versatile player – and is a local product. Sky Blue holds the No. 2 overall pick where the club will have its choice between Samantha Mewis, Sarah Killion and Abby Dahlkemper (all UCLA), Shea Groom, Gilliland and Colaprico amongst others.
Killion would fill a team need as a defensive midfielder while Mewis, Groom, Colaprico, Daphne Corboz and Sofia Huerta would all help provide offensive firepower.
Key Stats: 37 goals allowed, 30 goals scored
Key Losses: Ashley Nick (M, traded to Houston), Jill Loyden (GK, retired), Madeleine Thompson (D, retired),
Additions: Samantha Kerr (F), Shawna Gordon (M), Aubrey Bledsoe (GK),
While most of the league has been making lots of noise this offseason, Sky Blue has been quiet instead focusing on improvement in house.
Kerr addresses that need as she scored a team-high nine goals for the Flash last year and will create space for others on the team. Her availability will likely be limited due to commitments with the Australian national team.
The New Jersey club also signed former Wake Forest goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe to backup Brittany Cameron. Cameron didn’t quite put up the numbers she had in 2013, but is likely going to be the choice between the pipes. Bledsoe was one of the top keepers to come out of college last season but opted not to enter the NWSL draft.
Draft picks held: No. 2, 10, 22, 28