Sky Blue Releases Opening Day Roster

Christie Rampone Sky Blue FC

by Chris Henderson
NWSL Beat Writer

Sky Blue FC released its official roster on Monday with all the expected names and no surprising omissions.

The team named 21 players to the active roster including all six players who are expected to miss time playing for their national teams at the World Cup this summer.  Captain Christie Rampone and American teammate Kelley O’Hara will join the team for three games before departing for the US camp. Canadian Jonelle Filigno, Mexican Monica Ocampo, and Australians Caitlin Foord and Sam Kerr will not join Sky Blue until after their respective teams finish the tournament in Canada. In the meantime, Sky Blue will rely on players from its reserve team to fill their spots.

While the World Cup will significantly drain the team’s resources, Sky Blue hopes a combination of returning veterans, off-season acquisitions and drafted rookies can lift the team into the playoffs after a narrow miss last year. In attack, Danish striker Nadia Nadim, who sparked the club’s late season run in 2014, has signed on permanently. She will be joined by returnee Maya Hayes, who scored two goals in the preseason.

The midfield will hinge on the combination play of Katy Freels and first round draft pick Sarah Killion. The two played together for the bulk of the preseason with Freels netting several goals. The remaining midfield slots will be filled by newcomer Shawna Gordon and veterans Nikki Stanton and Taylor Lytle.

With Rampone away, the team will likely use the centerback pairing of Lindsi Cutshall and rookie Kristin Grubka. The rest of the defensive line will see some combination of Meg Morris, Hayley Haagsma, and Cami Levin. In goal, veteran Brittany Cameron will take over for the retired Jill Loyden, backed up by newcomer Aubrey Bledsoe.

None of the players brought in on trial during the preseason made the final active roster, but fifth round pick Lo’eau LaBonta made the team. Fellow draft pick Shade Pratt is completing school and will be given the chance to win a spot when she finishes classes.

Sky Blue kicks off the season on Sunday away to FC Kansas City at 4pm Eastern time.