Questions, answers, guesses on Spirit’s Taylor and Hodak deals

The Washington Spirit apparently isn’t done making news today. The team traded for Lindsay Taylor, yet another young forward with a good resume but someone made expendable in Seattle with Renee Cuellar’s acquisition earlier in the day. The Spirit and Reign also exchanged draft picks — Washington got a “conditional” fourth-rounder from Seattle, the Reign got a second-rounder from the Spirit.

The deal put the Spirit over the roster cap again, so they had to waive someone. And that has stolen a lot of the Twitter discussion. Domenica Hodak had apparently won over a lot of fans. (Or a couple of other players were on the fans’ bad side.)

To analyze this, I’ll make a composite character out of various reactions I’ve seen today.

Q: Is the Taylor deal a good one for the Spirit?

A; Hard to see how it’s not. A second-round pick isn’t that high a price for one of the top players on Stanford’s awesome 2011 championship team, someone who was drafted sixth in the 2012 WPS Draft. (The Spirit is loading up on 2012 draftees — Stephanie Ochs was No. 3, Taylor No. 6, Tori Huster No. 8, former Spirit player Ingrid Wells No. 9, Toni Pressley No. 13, Jasmyne Spencer No. 21.) Even with Conny Pohlers on the roster, another scoring option isn’t a bad thing on a team that hasn’t scored in five games.

And she has scored in a Spirit game already! (Opening goal for Seattle in Washington’s lone win, the 4-2 decision at Seattle.)

Q. But why did they waive Hodak and not Roberts, King or another player I don’t like?

A: Maybe a combination of practice habits and a couple of times being out of position, such as the goal in Kansas City in which Lauren Cheney was wide open on Ashlyn Harris’ doorstep.

Roberts completes tons of passes. Go ahead, check the games out on YouTube.

Q. Why not waive Tiffany McCarty? I don’t like her!

A: You don’t, but a lot of people in soccer do. She was the No. 2 overall pick for a reason, though Chris Henderson ranked her ninth (second among pure forwards after the Spirit’s second-round pick, Caroline Miller.) She’s a U23 mainstay who scored a ton of goals in college.

If McCarty leaves Washington, it’ll be by trade. Not waivers. It’d be stupid to waive someone who has value. Other coaches think they can coax better production out of her than Washington has.

(I know — the Spirit waived Ingrid Wells, who may also have trade value, but there are extenuating circumstances in that case that will be more fully revealed later. Nothing that reflects poorly on her.)

Q. Well, why not waive another attacker? Isn’t the Spirit thin on defense?

A. Remember that Miller is out for the season, but still, that’s a valid question. The defenders on the Spirit: Ali Krieger, Candace Chapman, Toni Pressley, Robyn Gayle, Kika Toulouse. Then Tori Huster, the midfielder who played a lot of outside back for Western New York last year and picked up center back pretty well this year. That’s six. After that — maybe Holly King?

Q. Why not waive Caroline Miller? She’s injured, so that frees a roster spot.

A. First – waiving her means losing her rights for next season. This team intends to be here past August.

Second – waiving a player for no reason other than her injury is a pretty crappy thing to do, it would piss off players and fans, and it would make free agents less likely to come to Washington in the future.

Q. So is that the end of the “Krieger to midfield” movement?

A. Within Spirit camp, I have no indication that it ever begun.

Q. Did the new coach make this deal?

A. Doubtful, at least in terms of the trade. Nothing happens that quickly.

Q. So who’s starting Wednesday?

A. I have even less idea than usual.

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11 thoughts on “Questions, answers, guesses on Spirit’s Taylor and Hodak deals

  1. How any coach can think that McCarty has value is beyond me. She is clearly better than the effort that she puts out. It is painful to watch how little she tries. She has ball skills, and she is fast. But game after game we watch her get outrun by Beuhler, Wambach, and everyone else. To me that smells of an attitude problem. Maybe she wants out of Washington, and is trying to get cut. Even so, if I was the coach on another team, I wouldn’t take a chance on a player like that.

  2. McCarty at best has been an inconsistent player. She has not shown a capability to use her impressive speed to score goals, and her help with defense is nonexistent. The Spirit would be better with almost any trade.

  3. Can’t understand all the McCarty hate. She’s the second leading scorer on the team, the only player besides Matheson to score more than one goal this season, and the only forward to score for Washington this year. It seems like people pegged her as a bust before the season even started, and the blame for Washington’s lack of offensive punch is being put squarely on her shoulders.

    I also can’t understand how people always think that you can trade for a quality player by giving up your most ineffective players in return. To get quality you have to give up quality. In order to bring in a forward with potential, we had to give up a defender with potential. Hodak will be missed, but she was one of the few expendable pieces with any trade value that we had.

  4. Beau — Would you at least consider the idea that Spirit management made the Hodak move because they couldn’t face up to some mistakes they made themselves? For example, signing Candace Chapman and Kika Toulouse? They were both free agent signings, and I think management just couldn’t publicly admit they were both busts.

    By the way, Hodak was a key part of the Spirit’s best string of performances, from late April to mid-May, and while she took over for an injured Toulouse, I think she eventually beat her out for the starting job. Hodak is not exactly a nobody — she was undrafted but easily could have been Second Team All-ACC in central defense last year, and played very well against McCarty’s FSU team, for example.

    Also, Holly King was a favorite of Jorden’s from last summer with DC United Women, but it was a bit of a mistake to take a player who wasn’t done with college until mid-May. Roberts is the better technical player at the pro level, and I credit you for acknowledging her pass completion rate in midfield.

    Anyway, the Taylor trade is really, really bad. She’s not going to make any difference, and the Spirit just lost a huge 2nd Round draft pick next year, a year loaded with talent. You talk about her Stanford pedigree, but just look how she did on the biggest stage, against FSU and Duke — she was not a part of those wins at all. It was Cami Levin, Noyola, Ubogagu, Garciamendez. She can’t possess the ball at all.

  5. I came into the season with high expectations for McCarty. There was no preconceived notion of bust in my mind. However you only have to watch the games to see that she does not put in effort. That is the part that is infuriating. She doesn’t chase balls. She is clearly a fast player, faster than most of the players in the NWSL. She never runs down a ball.

  6. Here’s a cautionary tale of giving up on talented forwards:

    My local second-division team, the Carolina Dynamo, had a player who had obvious talent but couldn’t quite get in the swing of things. After a few games, he was traded for virtually nothing. He instantly heated up.

    The next year, he went to preseason with the Columbus Crew in MLS. He proceeded to score 44 goals in 55 games over the next two seasons.

    His name: Stern John. He went on to play for several teams in England and score 70 goals for Trinidad and Tobago.

    Back to Hodak: I don’t want to pile on when someone has just been waived. I can see why some fans have enjoyed see her play — she takes no crap from anyone, whether it’s DiMartino or Morgan. She has had a few good moments. But her practice habits aren’t up to the level of many of her teammates, and in games, she has had a few moments like this:

    But if you’re still hoping other players get waived, well, there’s still time. I’m biased here — the more players move, the more complicated my book becomes. And they’re all good people — I can honestly say I don’t wish ill on a single person who has been with the Spirit even briefly this year.

  7. @Greg: The problem with McCarty is that – as others have noted – she doesn’t seem to be giving anywhere close to 100%. She’s not the only DC forward to be a bust, but Ochs gets stuck in midfield, Miller’s been hurt, and Spencer and Williams don’t have the same pedigree or expectations as the #1 draft pick.

    As for Hodak and quality, you seem to think she was traded. She wasn’t – she was cut. We got nothing for her except possibly an upgrade for the W-League team, assuming she’s still willing to be associated with the organization.

  8. @starcityfan: I don’t think the problem with McCarty is a lack of effort. I think that has been an easy excuse for those that are upset that their favorite players aren’t getting starts. If McCarty has been slacking off, then I can name half a dozen players for DC that have been slacking off this year. The simple fact is that McCarty has been our most productive forward – as a rookie. And, frankly, it’s not a surprise given our lack of offensive punch that our leading forward only has 2 goals. This was to be expected. So why are people acting as if we should be filling the nets game in and game out?

    Ochs has been a huge disappointment this year. Spencer and Williams don’t have the pedigree of McCarty (you’re right about that, and that’s certainly not a strike against McCarty – it’s praise). And Miller has seven appearances without a goal or an assist, so injuries aren’t an excuse for her lack of production when she’s played.

    My mistake about Hodak. They waived her to make room for Taylor on the roster, so I thought she had actually been packaged into the trade. But make no mistake, we had to get rid of an expendable piece to acquire Taylor given the roster rules in NWSL.

  9. I don’t think McCarty’s effort is an issue, at least not a major one. She has been getting in good spots. Then she has been tentative. Maybe it’s underconfidence, maybe it’s adjustment to the speed of play, maybe it’s something else. I don’t think it’s fair to say she’s slacking. She darted around and pressed as Jorden asked.

    @wosoverymuch – Can you really call Chapman a bust? Or just say her injury was worse than anyone realized? She was a cornerstone in the defense of the last two WPS champions and the Canadian national team. If you were looking at a free agent pool with everyone healthy, she would be one of the very top picks. Hard to imagine anyone rooting against her returning to her 2010-11 form.

    @Greg – Miller played only a few minutes in those games, and she clearly changed the game even without scoring. That said, she didn’t do as well in her start, and McCarty looked good as a sub. Some of us were joking that the Spirit should just get through the first half however it could, then throw Miller and McCarty on at halftime.

    Ochs does a lot of positive things. If anyone else for the Spirit was scoring, you’d say Ochs was a valuable midfield contributor, much in the same way fans were stunned when Ingrid Wells was let go. When no one else is scoring, it’s natural to look around and say, “Hey, no one’s scoring. Including her.”

  10. @Beau: I agree that Miller has only had limited minutes to make an impact, but part of that is not being able to play her way into more minutes. Jorden apparently saw a lot more potential and production from McCarty in practice and in matches week to week, and I agree that it’s McCarthy’s tentativeness in front of goal that is costing her and the team – not her effort. It’ll be interesting to see if that changes with a new coach.

    I thought the Spirit looked best this year when they put an emphasis on possession and getting numbers up into the attack. Unfortunately they seem to have moved away from that and it’s coincided with their recent slide. When Matheson, Lindsey, and co are getting up into the box Washington looks more potent offensively, but they’ve gone back to launching long balls up the field hoping McCarty can beat several defenders every time.

    Ochs just hasn’t looked good at all this year for me, which is a shame considering how good she looked for the Flash in WPSL Elite. Her decision making has been suspect, her touches have been inconsistent, and she hasn’t really impacted the midfield the way I thought she would be able to given she’s playing alongside Matheson and Lindsey. Wells was a disappointment too. My opinion of their contributions isn’t dependent on who’s scoring – like I mentioned before, I didn’t expect this team to score many goals this year with so much youth up top. But I did expect the midfield, including Ochs, to have a much more significant impact on matches than they have. The odd quality half here and there just isn’t going to get it done.

  11. @BeauDure Hmm, McCarty not having an effort problem. I just can’t see it any other way. @Greg is wrong that “everyone” who has a problem with McCarty just has a different favorite they want to start. I just want players who actually try. McCarty does not try. Either that or Jorden is a far worse coach then I ever imagined. She does not hustle, she barely challenges the opposing back line when they have the ball. On more than one occasion, in multiple different games she did not challenge the keeper when the keeper was receiving a ball that they could not pick up. She could have forced the keeper to kick it out of bounds, but she just stopped and let the keeper stand there and kick it to any defender of her chosing. On more than one occasion she ran through the box 1 v 1 with the opposing keeper and took no shot. She stopped and held the ball and let the defense get back, and then kicked it across the goal face as a pass when there were no other Spirit players around. She only uses her full speed one time a game. It that is what Jorden wanted then he didn’t want to win. We shall see what effort she puts in the rest of this season.

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