The National Women’s Soccer League rang in its offseason on Monday with four significant trades, finalizing the previously reported Alex Morgan deal while seeing other U.S. internationals land in Seattle and Orlando. Along with announce the upcoming expansion draft’s protected/unprotected lists, it will likely be the busiest day of the league’s third offseason.
Here’s what you need to know about today’s NWSL trades:
1. Yes, Orlando now has Alex Morgan (and Sarah Hagen and Kaylyn Kyle)
The Orlando Pride officially confirmed the worst-kept secret in the offseason so far, unveiling the start of its roster with superstar Alex Morgan and Canadian international midfielder Kaylyn Kyle from the Portland Thorns, as well as forward Sarah Hagen from FC Kansas City. In return, Portland received Orlando’s first pick in the expansion draft, their first pick in the 2016 college draft, and international spots for the 2016 and 2017 season.
FC Kansas City also sent a second-round draft pick to Orlando, and in exchange received Orlando’s second-round college draft pick in 2017, which seems like kind of a raw deal until you take into consideration the theory that Orlando has also promised not to take one of FCKC’s exposed players in November’s expansion draft. And indeed, FCKC has left national team allocation Heather O’Reilly on their unprotected list, a player Tom Sermanni would no doubt jump at the chance to recruit.
2. Orlando is hungry for more, aka Tom Sermanni is still coming for your favs
Orlando can pick up to 10 players from the full list of unprotected players (see, below) and can take two players from any club (or just one US allocated player).
Sermanni’s international coaching career creates deep ties with both Australia and Canada, so his international slots could fill up pretty quickly. In Morgan and Hagen, he’s got two starting strikers already, so he might be looking further down the spine of his team, starting with center backs. Kyle shifts between attacking and defensive mid but she’s not a 10, so Sermanni has a need there as well.
Some names that jump off the unprotected list that might make sense joining Sermanni: Canadian attacker Adriana Leon (Chicago Red Stars); fullback Leigh Ann Brown (FCKC); ball-winner Jen Buczkowski (FCKC); center back Amy LePeilbet (FCKC); England international Lianne Sanderson (Portland Thorns); Canadian forward Jonelle Filigno (Sky Blue FC); goalkeeper Hayley Kopmeyer (Seattle Reign); young fullback Elli Reid (Seattle Reign); 2015 draftee Whitney Church (Washington Spirit); 21-year-old Australian Hayley Raso (Washington Spirit); Canadian goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo (WNY Flash); versatile Australian Michelle Heyman (WNY Flash).
3. But a lot of backroom/handshake/gentlecoaches’ deals went on before these trades were announced, so “unprotected” might not actually mean unprotected for some players
As mentioned above, Heather O’Reilly is probably protected from poaching. The Spirit left both Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger unprotected, but Orlando can only have one of them, and it’s a safe bet they’re going to take Orlando-native Harris to be their starting keeper.