Sky Blue’s draft could pay off immediately

sky blue draft picks

by TOM SLATER

For virtually the entire off-season, Sky Blue was the quietest team in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). They didn’t sign one new player and didn’t have a coach from mid-October until 48 hours before the draft.

But Sky Blue made a loud statement in the recent National Women’s Soccer League’s (NWSL) College Draft.

Being strategic with their four picks, Sky Blue was able to pick up a player for striker, midfield, defense and goalkeeper. According to the Sky Blue coaching staff, all four are talented enough to start — but none more than Penn State’s Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez. She is considered by many to be one of the most exciting player drafted and could be an immediate impact and marquee player in her rookie year.

Sky Blue FC wanted Rodriguez badly and traded picks with Portland to select her second. Rodriguez is the complete package and could finally bring in the crowds at Rutgers University’s Yurcak Field when Sky Blue opens their season this spring.

““I am absolutely delighted to add a player of Raquel’s caliber,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach, after the draft. “Raquel is truly one of the best players to come through the draft in recent years. She has already proven herself at the college level as well as on the international stage. She will be a huge part of everything that we are trying to accomplish in the upcoming season, and she is someone who will play a vital role in the success of our team.”

Rodriguez is an electric playmaker, not shy to create off the dribble or to thread a perfect pass. The Herman Athletic Club (MAC) Herman award winner can put the ball in the net as she did against Duke in the NCAA final. She also added international experience to her resume last summer when she played every minute in all three matches for Costa Rica in the 2015 Womens’ World Cup. She scored her country’s historic first goal against Spain.

Holly may have one of the most potent midfields in NWSL with Sara Killion, Katy Freels, Rodriguez and Kelley O’Hara, the other MAC Herman award winner on Sky Blue.

The steal of the draft, however, might be Rutgers central defender Erica Skroski. Teammate Brianne Reed may have gotten a little more publicity and went one round earlier but Skroski is just as tough. She helped Rutgers to its most successful season in program history this past fall, where the Scarlet Knights reached the NCAA College Cup semifinals.

The second-team All American and Big 10 Defender of the Year also gets another perk – continuing to play at Yurcak Field

“Just playing my four years at Rutgers and then being picked by Sky Blue and staying local means the world to me,” said Skorski at the draft.

English forward Leah Galton was the no. 13 overall pick. The 2015 MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist registered 122 points while at Hofstra University, a program record. Her 48 goals were second most in school history and the 26 assists on her college resume are tied for most ever in the Pride record books. She is expected to fill a void left by Nadia Nadim who was abruptly traded to Portland during the draft.

William and Mary goalkeeper Caroline Casey was the final pick with the ninth pick in third round. Sky Blue again traded two fourth round picks with Chicago to get the chance to select Casey. The first team All-American started every game for four years and was picked to replace Aubrey Bledsoe, last year’s backup to the very solid Brittany Cameron.

But there’s been noise on social media that Cameron might stay put in Japan, where she is currently playing, pushing Casey to the top spot.