Coming off a career best 2018 season, Katie Stengel was one of the many players who was in a peak position to wreak absolute havoc on a Women’s World Cup weakened NWSL. Unfortunately, that peak position wasn’t capitalized on, and Stengel turned out a real low number season. The lack of output can’t be blamed on time, as this season saw an increase in starts and total minutes.
The struggles Stengel had this year are a real shining light on the struggles the whole side had throughout the season. In an article before the season started, I talked about how much I liked Stengel as a “hold up” style striker. Someone that can run in, hold up the defense, and either turn a goal or open up the lanes for someone else. Unfortunately, none of that ever seemed to connect this year. The playing style seemed to be more geared towards fast breaks and direct balls, which leaves the build-up play out in the cold.
I’d like to believe that this change in style was a purposeful, tactical decision from coach Laura Harvey, but I find myself unsure looking at the outcome of the season and the performances across the rest of the squad. There’s still hope though. A couple weeks into the W-League season and Katie seems to have found some scoring in her boots. I’m hoping they can make it back through customs in the spring.