Sitting at the bottom of the NWSL table and struggling to find roster continuity, the Breakers find themselves in the middle of an identity crisis--a struggle that started in November, when the team waved farewell to U.S. International forward Sydney Leroux. How did the Breakers handle the rebuilding process? We break down the team's biggest, bravest roster moves--and offer a revised set of late-season grades.
1. Sydney Leroux traded to Seattle for Kristie Mewis, Michelle Betos, 2015 First-Round Draft Pick, 2015 Second-Round Draft Pick
Leroux Update: Though Leroux has contributed three goals (all game-winners) to the league's premier attack, she has taken a large step backward in overall productivity. Increased attacking competition has likely contributed to her regression; midfielders Kim Little, Naho Kawasumi and Jess Fishlock have developed more impressive 2014 resumes, with Leroux failing to impact matches the way she did a year ago. With that said, the Seattle native has produced as well as international player since January 1, scoring seven goals in 12 USWNT matches.
Mewis Update: After missing the first four matches of 2014 with a sprained ankle, Mewis debuted on May 15 and immediately garnered attention. Unfortunately, the talented left-sided player has failed to live up to the hype, earning one assist and two shots on goal in ten appearances. Mewis has offered expected creativity out of the middle, though she has continually failed to put strikers Katie Schoepfer and Nkem Ezurike in goal-scoring positions, all-too-often looking to play miracle balls over the top. Mewis will need to uncover a role that suits her skillset--running off the ball, down the left side and behind a capable finisher--to contribute this season.
Betos Update: Betos never appeared for the Breakers, and now serves as Nadine Angerer's backup in Portland. In 3 appearances (2 starts), Betos has conceded five goals--and earned two victories.
Grade Revisited: D
In this Breakers system, Sydney Leroux would likely excel, with the freedom to roam the field, dart into space and serve as Boston's only target up top. Unfortunately, the Breakers have struggled to replace her speed and nose for the goal--and have failed to get the most (or anything) out of Kristie Mewis. The Hanson, Mass. native certainly has the potential to blossom in Boston, though her club has yet to fill the shoes of its long-lost superstar. Without the chaos that preceded this trade, GM Lee Billiard and Co. would have received an F.
2. 2014 International Roster Spot, 2015 First-Round Draft Pick Traded to Sky Blue FC for Lisa De Vanna
De Vanna Update: In six appearances for the Breakers, De Vanna contributed just one assist and no goals, a far cry from her productivity with Sky Blue FC and Melbourne Victory last season. A proven goal scorer at every level, De Vanna entered Tom Durkin's system and immediately looked out of place. During her five starts, the Australian International covered a lot of ground but failed to find the net; a foolish red card for dissent highlighted her disappointing campaign. In mid-June, the Breakers let go of De Vanna's short leash, sending the pacey forward to Washington in exchange for undrafted defender Bianca Sierra. De Vanna has enjoyed a far more prosperous campaign in Washington, using her speed and physicality to run directly at back lines. She has contributed one goal and one assist for the Spirit this season.
Grade Revisited: F
Though few analysts have harped on this trade, the end result leaves ample room for frustration, as Billiard essentially traded an international roster spot and a first-round pick in the 2015 draft for an undrafted rookie. Sierra has shown signs of promise thus far, clogging up the middle with much-needed physicality, though her future on the team remains uncertain.
3. Carmelina Moscato Traded to Seattle for Kaylyn Kyle
Moscato Update: Moscato, a member of the league's stingiest back line, joined the Reign as a leader first and an on-field contributor second. Her productivity (one appearance, 12 minutes) has decreased on the west coast, though the Reign have undoubtedly benefited from her off-the-field intelligence and knowledge of the game.
Kyle Update: In hopes of finding a player that could sit right in front of Cat Whitehill and distribute out of the back, Billiard brought in Kyle, a seemingly underappreciated defensive midfielder. Unfortunately, after two uninspired performances, Billiard cut the cord and sent her packing. Since her departure, Kyle has started 13 matches for the Dash, collecting a pair of assists. Her role in the center of the park has added a defensive presence in front of Houston's inexperienced back line.
Grade Revisited: C -
On paper, the end result--trading Moscato for wide midfielder Nikki Washington--still seems to favor the Breakers. But a deeper look reveals a much different truth. Kyle, who has navigated a highly-successful campaign in Houston, left town for a player who doesn't appear to have a home on Tom Durkin's roster. Washington has featured in a holding midfield spot, along the back line and in her natural wide attacking role, though she has struggled to "get going" in any position. Quite clearly, Kyle's departure had more to do with personnel fit than overall value; why not replace her with a capable CDM? Now, acquiring a holding midfielder remains a top priority for Durkin's club.
4. No. 5 Pick in 2014 Draft Traded to FC Kansas City for Courtney Jones, No. 8 Pick in 2014 Draft
Jones Update: Though her 2014 campaign got off to a shaky start--she proved more effective as an attacking player than as a center back--Jones' versatility has greatly benefitted Durkin's makeshift roster. The forward/midfielder/wing back has quietly put together an impressive season, scoring three goals while adding one assist in less than 900 minutes of play. More importantly, she has displayed a willingness to feature at virtually every position, temporarily filling many of Durkin's roster holes.
Grade Revisited: A
With their 2014 draft selection, FC Kansas City selected defender Kasey Kallman, who has started 14 matches for FC Kansas City while turning in a steady rookie season. The Breakers, however, also made out well, bagging forward Nkem Ezurike, who has scored twice for the Breakers this season. Ezurike pairs exceptional pace with the strength to turn and beat defenders in the box, projecting a promising future in Boston. Her productivity, combined with Jones' versatility, make Billiard a winner in this deal.
Following Leroux's departure, the Breakers appeared to make all the right moves: they filled roster gaps, acquired elite talent and built depth behind younger players. But in the end, Billiard's new players failed to carry their weight, causing the GM to unload his roster for ill-fitting players. His "roster hacking" has resulted in a lack of continuity, a lack of consistency, and ultimately, a lack of wins.
When September arrives, Billiard must replicate the success that followed the Courtney Jones trade and move beyond the failures of his remaining three roster moves. The Breakers deserve a thoughtful and well-built roster; without one, they will struggle to achieve the stability they so desperately need.
What about you? What grades would you apply to each of these trades? Keep the conversation going by leaving a comment below.