One week after dealing International legend Heather O'Reilly to F.C. Kansas City, Lee Billiard pulled the trade strings once again, dealing the No. 18 pick in the 2015 NWSL draft for Western New York Defender Amy Barczuk. The 24-year-old former second-round pick appeared in 19 matches last season (nine starts) as a platoon defender for the seventh-ranked Flash.
"Amy is another young, hard-working, and talented player we are bringing into our squad," Billiard said. "While at Western New York, she featured in the Flash’s successful 2013 run and got plenty of experience during the playoff games. She adds more depth and options to our defensive unit, and I am pleased we were able to secure her rights and agree contractual terms."
Barczuk, a member of the U.S. U-23 national team player pool, played collegiate soccer at the University of Colorado, where she appeared in 78 games during her four-year tenure.
"As we start to rebuild, I am happy with the new players and what they bring to a new-look roster," Billiard added. "With the addition of Amy, attention now turns to some more attacking players, and I am confident there will be additions in that specific area coming very soon."
The addition of Barczuk, who will likely serve as a role player off the bench, seems to solidify the Breakers' defensive unit. Head Coach Tom Durkin now has the flexibility to develop competition on the wing, where the Breakers struggled to slow down attackers in 2014. But in this case, competition may symbolize the lack of an elite player more than anything else. In 2015, Julie King, Morgan Marlborough and Cat Whitehill will likely occupy three-quarters of the back line, while Rachel Wood and Kassey Kallman will seemingly vie for the remaining spot. That leaves Bianca Sierra, Chelsea Stewart and Barczuk to fight for minutes off the bench. In simpler terms, Durkin will navigate a log jam of serviceable reserves without a tried-and-true starter.
Throughout the pre-season, look for Durkin's deep-rooted defenders to battle for a coveted starting role and, more importantly, a future on this squad. In a best case scenario, one of these players--perhaps Barczuk--will emerge as a capable starter. If no player proves worthy, Durkin will once again have key decisions to make in front of standout goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. Regardless of the player, he must find consistency.