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Boston Breakers 2016 draft preview

What the Breakers have and what they need.

It's been a trying few years for Breakers fans, but the team really seems determined to turn things around in 2016 with the appointment of new head coach Matt Beard and a series of big trades. Here's what you need to know going into the 2016 NWSL college draft, which takes place Friday, January 15 at 10 AM ET at the NSCAA convention.

What the Breakers currently have (new players are bolded):

Goalkeepers: Jami Kranich, Libby Stout

Defenders: Brooke Elby, Whitney Engen, Lauren Lazo, Kassey Kallman, Julie King, Mollie Pathman, Rachel Wood

Midfielders: Amy Barczuk, Sinead Farrelly, Kristie Mewis, Angela Salem, Katie Schoepfer, Stephanie Verdoia, McCall Zerboni

Forwards: Nkem Ezurike, Stephanie McCaffrey, Morgan Marlborough, Kyah Simon

TOTAL: 20

The Breakers have already made some big trades in the offseason, acquiring three new midfielders and, in perhaps the biggest move of all, sending longtime beacon of hope Alyssa Naeher to Chicago in exchange for central defender Whitney Engen. They also signed fullback Brooke Elby, with GM Lee Billiard implying that she may get switched between right and left.

What the Breakers need:

With their roster technically full, the Breakers will still have some gaps to plug due to the Olympics, and they may drop a couple of players as preseason goes on. The midfield and defense are slightly congested at the moment; don't be surprised if Beard looks to thin them out and set up trades or hunt for affordable internationals. Neither Verdoia nor Wood saw much time last season under Tom Durkin, although Wood is a useful option as a utility player who can work on a back line or get shifted to forward.

Should Australia qualify for the Olympics, Kyah Simon will be gone starting in July. Engen could join the USWNT for the Olympics too as a backup CB. Another possibility is that the Breakers might lose Stephanie McCaffrey as well - she'll have a lot of good chances to impress Jill Ellis before the Olympics, although odds are still fairly slim on her making the Rio roster.

So the Breakers will probably be wanting to fill in that attacking gap left by Simon; if they judge the risk of McCaffrey leaving as high enough, they'll definitely go for at least one forward. In terms of defenders, if Engen is gone they might just revert to the Kallman and King pairing at center back instead of looking to fill that in with a new player. They could also be looking for another fullback like Elby to help go forward and create on the wings.

What the Breakers are likely to get at the draft:

As it currently stands, Boston doesn't pick until late in the second round, with the 17th overall pick. They also control the 32nd and 35th picks.

There's some great attacking talent in this draft class, like Virginia's Makenzy Doniak and Texas Tech's Janine Beckie, but it's not likely they'll drop as low as the second round. Some other names to consider could be Mallory Weber from Penn State or Brittany Ratcliffe from Virginia. In terms of fullbacks, they might consider someone like Christen Westphal from Florida or Laura Liedle from Stanford.

Boston may end up trading some of their draft picks too, ultimately only bringing in one draftee to coach up to NWSL readiness and rebuilding the rest of the roster from trades or another international who won't be gone for the Olympics. Beard already has a tall order in front of him, dragging the team back towards a respectable table position after two years struggling in the murk at the bottom. For his first NWSL season, he might play it safe and stick to known quantities who already have pro track records.