Sky Blue sets roster for 2016 NWSL season; Foord out

IMAGE SKY BLUE F.C.

by TOM SLATER

With opening day less than a week away, Sky Blue FC of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced its regular season roster on Monday, trimming down to 20 players as the team wraps up the 2016 preseason.

Sky Blue FC will open its regular season slate this Sunday when it travels west to face Seattle Reign FC.

There were a few new names added and at least one familiar name gone as the roster rounded into shape through preseason.

Sky Blue will open with three of  four draft picks on the roster — including Costa Rican international Raquel Rodriguez who came into camp late last week and should be ready for Sunday — as well as three players found through open tryouts.

But the latest player missing is Australian international Caitlin Foord. While teammate Sam Kerr returned last week after recovering from injury, Foord was not on the players list to start the season. According to team officials, Foord chose not to play in the NWSL at this time, although Sky Blue FC retains her league rights.

Foord played two seasons with Sky Blue in 2013 and 2015, although she only played three matches last season because of World Cup commitments.

“We are all very excited to get the season underway,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC head coach. “We now have a solid preseason under our belts, where we were able to blend in the new faces within our club.  Internally, we have set very high standards and big expectations for what the future holds for this newly assembled team, and the impression they will have on our fan base in New Jersey and the surrounding areas.”

Sky Blue FC will be bringing a pair of goalkeepers with them when the club heads to Seattle, with Caroline Stanley and Caroline Casey holding those two spots. Stanley was acquired via free agency at the start of the preseason, while Casey was taken by Sky Blue FC in the 2016 NWSL College Draft.

The defensive front for Sky Blue FC will once again be led by longtime captain and New Jersey native Christie Rampone, who will be joined by veterans CoCo Goodson, Kristin Grubka, Maya Hayes and  United States international Kelley O’Hara. Newcomers to the team include 2016 NWSL College Draft selection Erica Skroski and Erin Simon, who came to the club through open tryouts.

Returning from the 2015 Sky Blue FC midfield will be Shawna Gordon, Sarah Killion, Taylor Lytle and Nikki Stanton, while Ashley Nick arrived back in New Jersey during the preseason for her second stint with the club. New arrivals to the midfield are 2016 first round pick Rodriguez and Kelly Conheeney, who earned her roster spot after originally coming through open trials.

Up top will be a few familiar faces, beginning with 2015 Sky Blue FC Golden Boot winner Kerr.  Tasha Kai, one of the most productive offensive players in franchise history, also returns to New Jersey this season after taking some time away from the game. Additionally, Kim DeCesare is back for a second year with Sky Blue FC, while newcomer Danielle Schulmann looks to make an immediate impact after working her way onto the roster via open tryouts.

After opening on the road, Sky Blue FC returns home on April 24 to face the Washington Spirit.

SKY BLUE FC ROSTER

GOALKEEPERS (2): Caroline Casey, Caroline Stanley
DEFENDERS (7): CoCo Goodson, Kristin Grubka, Maya Hayes, Kelley O’Hara (FP-USA), Christie Rampone (FP-USA), Erin Simon, Erica Skroski
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kelly Conheeney, Shawna Gordon, Sarah Killion, Taylor Lytle, Ashley Nick, Raquel Rodriguez (INT’L-CRC), Nikki Stanton
FORWARDS (4): Kim DeCesare, Tasha Kai, Sam Kerr (INT’L-AUS), Danielle Schulmann