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NC Courage pre-season roster leaves little room for new blood

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Consistency is a good thing, right?

Jonathan Willey

The North Carolina Courage opened training camp on Monday and the roster looks extremely familiar. A total of 19 of the 22 players that have either signed or have been offered contracts were members of the 2018 roster. Forward Darian Jenkins, defender Yuri Kawamura, and goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland all left the squad during the off-season, while Swedish midfielder Julia Spetsmark, defender Ally Haran, and Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé joined the team. Morgan Reid and Ryan Williams have both been offered contracts after playing short stints with the Courage last year. Julie King, a great defender that was selected in the 2018 Boston Breakers Dispersal Draft, spent all of the 2018 season recovering from ankle surgery and has also been offered a contract.

An unbalanced roster

There is some cause for concern when looking through the roster. Paul Riley only has 5 forwards in camp out of 38 players. It is almost guaranteed that one of those players, Crystal Dunn, will miss a large portion of the season with the USWNT in preparation for and participating in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Jess McDonald also has a chance at making the final World Cup roster, although she hasn’t played in either of the SheBelieves Cup matches in the last week. If she doesn’t hit the pitch tomorrow, her World Cup aspirations look bleak. Still, having just four available forwards is risky, and one, Leah Pruitt, is a rookie. The assumption must be that a midfielder would be able to step up and play the 10 if called upon...

Because we have 18 midfielders in camp! That’s right, 5 forwards and 18 midfielders. Of those, 10 have either been offered a contract or are already under contract. The other 8 are either non-roster invitees (6) or draft picks (2). The non-roster invitees are players that come to camp to practice with the team in hopes of earning a roster or practice spot, but they aren’t expected to make the team. The two draft picks, Lauren Milliet and Kayce Tillman, are expected to make the practice squad but probably won’t make the regular roster. It’s no knock against them, but we already have a full roster under contract at this point.

The World Cup will definitely provide opportunities for unknown players to make a name for themself this season, so having more players in camp is definitely a good thing. Right now it feels like seven Courage players will miss about half of the season for the World Cup, so depth is a necessity.

The full roster is below:

Key:

CDP - 2019 NWSL College Draft pick

NRI - Non-Roster Invitee

NYR - Not Yet Reported to Camp

*- Contract Offer Extended

Goalkeepers (5): Kelsey Daughtery (NRI), Adelaide Gay (NRI), Stephanie Labbé, Sam Leshnak (NRI), Katelyn Rowland

Defenders (10): Abby Dahlkemper (NYR), Abby Erceg (NYR), Ally Haran, Hailey Harbison (CDP), Jaelene Hinkle, Shannon Horgan (NRI), Julie King*, Kaleigh Kurtz, Merritt Mathias*, Morgan Reid*

Midfielders (18): Debinha (NYR), Nickolette Driesse (NRI), Elizabeth Eddy, Meagan Harbison (NRI), Samantha Mewis (NYR), Gianna Milaro (NRI), Lauren Milliet (CDP), Heather O’Reilly, Denise O’Sullivan (NYR), Peyton Perea (NRI), Cari Roccaro, Meredith Speck, Julia Spetsmark, Kaycie Tillman (CDP), Charlotte Williams (NRI), Ryan Williams*, Taryn Wright (NRI), McCall Zerboni (NYR)

Forwards (5): Crystal Dunn (NYR), Kristen Hamilton, Jessica McDonald (NYR), Leah Pruitt (CDP), Lynn Williams