73113_kriegerali_isi_nwslbs070313121 Brad Smith/isiphotos.com

Winners and Losers of the Inaugural NWSL Season

There are still three weeks left in the NWSL’s inaugural regular season, but it’s never too early to evaluate which national team players have thrived and whose stock has dropped.
BY Maura Gladys Posted
July 31, 2013
1:15 PM

Lauren Holiday
The midfielder has absolutely won the NWSL this season, emerging as the most dominant player in the league. Holiday has 10 goals and nine assists, good for the league lead in both categories, and is the major creative force for Kansas City. She has scored from long-range and close in, and has set up teammates with perfectly weighted crosses, clever flicks, and instinctive touches. Holiday is the offensive leader on the league’s hottest team and has a good shot at both a Player of the Year award and league title.

Adrianna Franch
Franch has made several incredible saves for the Western New York Flash and used her first season of professional soccer to make a strong case to be included regularly in Tom Sermanni’s squad. The young keeper has faced 205 shots, the most in the league, and leads the league in saves with 83. Franch has conceded 17 goals, the most in the league, and still needs to eliminate simple mistakes out of her game, but with the number 3 spot on the national team potentially up for grabs, Franch has put in a strong case to see more time at the national level.

Alex Morgan
Morgan started strong to the season but hit a four-game scoreless skid in the middle of the year. Defenders zeroed in on Morgan, who was often left alone up top, and with no firm midfield to deliver her the ball, she grew frustrated. Morgan has since scored, but the Thorns have fallen to third place, and the striker has still struggled to regain her touch. So why is she in the winners column? The young striker's first year of pro soccer has been a learning experience. Morgan hit a slump and worked through it, gaining valuable experience before a major moment like 2015’s Women’s World Cup.

Kelley O’Hara
When former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage asked O’Hara to switch from forward to defender, she made the transition seamlessly and became one of the Americans' best backliners. O'Hara's club team, however, asked her to move back up top and the switch has been less smooth. She never found her groove, thanks to an injury-plagued season and the grind of bouncing back and forth to national team duty earlier in the year. O'Hara is scoreless in 12 games.

Ali Krieger
Kreiger played briefly with WPS in 2007 and 2009, but the NWSL was her first major foray into domestic play after spending five years with FCC Frankfurt in Germany. But Krieger is on a struggling Washington Spirit team and is dealing with injury and frustration. She has missed the past two games with concussion-like symptoms. Before her injury, she began pushing forward even more from her right back position, trying to create something, anything, for the flat-lining Spirit offense. Krieger’s national team starting spot won’t be threatened, but this season is likely one that she would like to forget.

Jill Loyden
Loyden suffered a broken hand at March’s Algarve Cup, an injury that kept her out of the start of the season. Once she recovered, she never got a shot in goal thanks to the play of Brittany Cameron. Cameron has led Sky Blue FC to second place in the standings, and is second in the league in shutouts. The lack of play could spell the end of Loyden’s time with the U.S. team and open the door for younger keepers including Ashlyn Harris and Adriana Franch.

Maura Gladys, a featured ASN columnist, works in production for KICKTV. She also runs the goalkeeping blog All You Need Is Glove.

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