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.
Harris as a foregone conclusion for the Pride also means players like Houston goalkeeper Erin McLeod can hang out on an unprotected list fairly certain they’re in the clear. Any keeper has to straddle the line between acting as Harris’ backup and being prepared to start in case Harris gets called up for Olympic duty come the summer.
4. Portland might be today’s winner
Thanks to their trade with Orlando, Portland now has the No. 1 pick in the 2016 College Draft and controls the No. 1 expansion draft pick. Thanks to a separate trade, they now have the rights to one of the top internationals interested in NWSL, Iceland’s Dagny Brynjarsdottir, who Portland received along with Boston’s first (second overall) and second round draft picks. In return, the Breakers got veteran midfielders McCall Zerboni and Sinead Farrelly along with Portland’s second and fourth round picks..
Orlando’s first expansion pick will reportedly be Meghan Klingenberg, who went from Houston to Seattle. Seattle has agreed to leave Klingenberg unprotected in the expansion draft as part of the labyrinthine maneuverings to get Alex Morgan to Orlando but also allowed Seattle and Houston to get some added value out of a side deal. If the Dash had to leave Klingenberg unprotected anyway, they might as well trade her ahead of time and get something instead of having Orlando just take Klingenberg off their hands.
First pick in the college draft is likely to be Notre Dame defender Cari Roccaro or Virgina center back Emily Sonnet, both decent defensive options who could help complete Portland’s back line.
In total, Portland got Klingenberg, Brynjarsdottir, the No. 1 and No. 2 college draft picks, and an extra international roster spot over the next two seasons. They gave up midfielders McCall Zerboni and Sinead Farrelly and a fourth-round pick. Their unprotected list is quite short and the only name off of it that looks possible to go is Lianne Sanderson. Sanderson, Zerboni, and Farrelly were all solid for the Thorns, but not really outstanding.
The NWSL’s full expansion draft lists, via NWSLSoccer.com:
Alysa Naeher (USA)
Andressa Alves da Silva
Nkem Ezurike (CAN)
Francielle Manuel Alberto
Bianca Sierra (MEX)
Chicago Red Stars
Julie Johnston (USA)
Christen Press (USA)
Adriana Leon (CAN)
Rachel Quon (CAN)
Melissa Tancredi (CAN)
Morgan Brian (USA)
Allysha Chapman (CAN)
Carli Lloyd (USA)
Andressa Cavalari Machry
Rosana dos Santos Augusto
Camila Martins Pereira
Erin McLeod (CAN)
Lauren Sesselmann (CAN)
FC Kansas City
Amy Rodriguez (USA)
Becky Sauerbrunn (USA)
Leigh Ann Brown
Heather O’Reilly (USA)
Portland Thorns FC
Tobin Heath (USA)
Christie Sinclair (CAN)
Rhian Wilkinson (CAN)
Sky Blue FC
Kelley O’Hara (USA)
Christie Rampone (USA)
Jonelle Filigno (CAN)
Monica Ocampo (MEX)
Seattle Reign FC
Megan Rapinoe (USA)
Hope Solo (USA)
Meghan Klingenberg (USA)
* = Allocation Status TBD
Crystal Dunn (USA)
Diana Matheson (CAN)
Laura Del Rio
Ashlyn Harris (USA)
Ali Krieger (USA)
Veronica Perez (MEX)
Arianna Romero (MEX)
Western New York Flash
Whitney Engen (USA)
Sydney Leroux (USA)
25+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, Liga MX, MLS & World Cup
- Includes ESPN, FOX, Univision, TUDN and more
Favorite Leagues At The Best Price
- Starting price: $7.99/mo. for Live TV Package
- Watch Argentine league, Brasileirāo and Copa Libertadores
- Includes beIN SPORTS, GolTV, TyC Sports and more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, Copa del Rey & more
- Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
Live TV, Soccer & Originals
- Starting price: $4.99/mo.
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & more
- Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
- Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more
Get All 3 And Save 30%
- $13.99/mo. for ESPN+, Disney+ & Hulu
- Includes Bundesliga, LaLiga, NHL & the home to UFC
- Features Marvel, Star Wars + shows & movies for your entire family