Last week, The Bent Musket spoke with Tom Durkin, Boston Breakers Head Coach, and Lee Billiard, General Manager, to break down the management side of the Leroux-Mewis swap. The pair offered a variety of perspectives, bringing light to a trade that welcomed considerable controversy.
Part One: Saying Goodbye to Sydney Leroux
After fighting to retain icon forward Leroux, who requested an off-season trade to her home in Seattle, Billiard and Durkin expressed concern over the loss of their world-class striker. By acquiring midfielder Kristie Mewis, a player the pair believes will eventually carry their franchise, Billiard and Durkin worked to soften the impact of the trade.
"We made the most out of a very tough situation," started Durkin, who joined the Breakers in September. "Our franchise is beyond disappointed with the loss of a player like Sydney Leroux."
"We were poised to make [Sydney] the focus of our marketing campaign and the face of the franchise. In my opinion, she was going to have a breakout year. The trade really caught me off guard."
Both Billiard and Durkin immediately denied the notion that Mewis' trade from Kansas City to Seattle, which occurred in early November, factored into the team's "master plan."
"The trades were completely and utterly separate," Billiard responded, instantly dispelling earlier rumors. "We had nothing to do with the Kansas-Seattle trade. It was just coincidence, to be honest."
Coincidence or not, Billiard fulfilled his quest to acquire Mewis, who played for Division I Boston College after a record-breaking youth campaign in local Hanson, Mass.
Part Two: Welcoming Kristie Mewis
Despite working through a less-than-ideal roster move, both Billiard and Durkin praised Mewis' skillset, making it clear that she will add value to a weak left side.
"We were over the moon to get Mewis," said Durkin. "I don't think we could have traded for a better left-sided player who will really balance out our team."
"She's going to be a force to be reckoned with, and will help us put people in the stands with her ties to the area," he continued. "We had not one natural left-footed player last year, and that was one of our biggest efforts this year."
Billiard, who openly coveted the U.S. International last January, believes Mewis' talent and local influence bodes well for a lengthy future in Boston.
"We always tried to get Kristie in Boston; she's very marketable in this area," Billiard said. "There's a variety to her, and we want to see what she can do over the next two, three years. She's got the chance to be the next breakout player."
Mewis will likely join Billiard's side as an outside midfielder, creating a dangerous midfield opposite attacker Heather O'Reilly.
Part Three: Replacing Sydney Leroux
For the Breakers, the process of replacing Leroux - who scored 11 goals last season, second best on the NWSL table - presents a significant challenge. Billiard's side must now match the productivity of Leroux and forward Kyah Simon, who will miss the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL. Locating a proven goal scorer will serve as a top priority for Durkin's suddenly needy franchise.
"We have a few options that we need to investigate," Billiard said. "But replacing Sydney is very, very hard to do; we need to find the best version of Sydney Leroux out there."
"Our greatest need is somebody who can put the ball in the back of the net," he continued. "Somebody that can finish the chances our team creates."
Durkin confronted the roster gap head on, mentioning that his team would need to acquire at least one additional piece to match the hole left by Leroux.
"We will exercise our prerogative of getting an international player to help us out up front," Durkin began. "If we can find just one bona fide goal scorer, I think we have enough players to contribute to the attack."
Durkin's original plan - to run with two attacking midfielders behind Leroux and running mate Lianne Sanderson - will need tweaking, as his side now maintains just one consistent goal-scoring threat (Sanderson). Look for Durkin to run with a variety of formations during the early stages, attempting to make the most of his new-look roster.
"Tom is a great coach, and he brings out the best attributes of all of our players," Billiard added. "We have the supporting staff who will work to find that player - one who can really find the back of the net."
The Final Word
Without question, the Sydney Leroux replacement project has room to grow. Billiard and Durkin seem far from content with the Breakers' November roster, and, based on Billiard's comments, have a short list of players who will immediately impact the team. With a reworked system that focuses on 11 players instead of one, and the addition of a proven goal scorer, Billiard and Durkin may find themselves on the positive side of a disappointing trade.
Think the Breakers missed the mark? Feeling more optimistic? Let us know below.
- Breakers Trade Details Unveilved: Billiard, Durkin Talk Leroux, Mewis
- Matt Reis Selected as 2013 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year
- Revs Captain Goncalves Earns MLS Defender of the Year Award
- Revs Add Former Louisville MF Paolo DelPiccolo Via Waiver Draft
- The 2014 Revolution Schedule Has Been Released, Contains Very Few Surprises