The NWSL offseason kicked off with a slew of player moves in October and November. The Western New York Flash have made the biggest splash so far but with 10 trades (and counting), we’ve broken down who went where and how each move affects the club.
The Western New York Flash and Houston Dash kicked off the offseason with a blockbuster trade that swapped two U.S. women’s national team players, a fringe national team player and a draft pick.
Dash receive: midfielder Carli Lloyd
Flash receive: defender Whitney Engen, midfielder Becky Edwards and a 2016 third round pick
How it pans out: The Dash struggled to score for the better part of last season. Lloyd brings a proven ability to score goals—and crucial ones at that—but will be gone for chunks of the season as the US women prepare for the World Cup this summer.
The Flash is coming off their worst season since the club’s inception, a seventh-place finish and on the outside looking in to the playoffs for the first time. Both Edwards and Engen have played under Lines – they won the 2011 WPS title with the Flash – and will solidify a defense that surrendered 38 goals last season.
The Flash continued making moves, sending veterans Angela Salem and Katherine Reynolds to Washington in exchange for midfielder Jordan Angeli and yet another draft pick.
Flash receive: midfielder Jordan Angeli and the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 draft
Spirit receive: midfielder Angela Salem and defender Katherine Reynolds
How it pans out: This one is a little bit more puzzling. Angeli made her return to professional soccer after missing the last three years with her third ACL tear. She played in 10 matches, logging 235 minutes for the Spirit in 2014. There is no guarantee that Angeli will round back into her WPS form but Lines and technical director Charlie Naimo clearly have a plan that Angeli fits into.
Salem and Reynolds both played for Lines from 2012-2014, winning the 2012 WPSL-Elite title and finishing as runners up in the 2013 NWSL championship match. Salem gives the Spirit depth in the midfield after the departure of Yael Averbuch and Lori Lindsey’s retirement at the end of the 2014 season. Reynolds will slot onto the backline and could allow Crystal Dunn to play as an attacking midfielder or winger where she excelled at North Carolina. Added bonus: both players will be with the Spirit during the World Cup, which could prove invaluable.
The Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City made the second trade for a US international with the Blues sending two 2014 draftees to Boston for Heather O’Reilly.
Breakers receive: forward Morgan Marlborough and defender Kassey Kallman
Blues receive: midfielder Heather O’Reilly
How it pans out: I’m not sure what to make of this move—KC gets yet another U.S. national team player while giving up two young players while Boston sends their most recognizable face to the Midwest.
For KC, it really could backfire during the build up to the World Cup plus the tournament itself. With at least five U.S. internationals in contention for spots on the World Cup roster, it could leave gaping holes on both sides of the ball. O’Reilly is still a dangerous outside player though and for the time that she is with the Blues, will be yet another weapon for teams to try to stop. A midfield with O’Reilly, Lauren Holiday, Erika Tymrak, and Jen Buczkowski could be dynamite.
The Breakers are coming off a second-straight season of not making the playoffs and the rebuilding has begun. Marlborough made nine appearances, mostly off the bench and has spent her offseason on loan with Glasgow City FC. Kallman started each of the 18 contests that she played in during her rookie campaign. She will help to shore up a defense that gave up a league-worst 53 goals on the season.
Despite the injection of youth with this move, one has to wonder if it’s going to be déjà vu with the trade that sent Sydney Leroux to Seattle prior to the 2014 season. O’Reilly was the team’s leading scorer with nine goals. The next goal total from a current Breaker was Katie Schoepfer’s four tallies on the year (Jazmine Reeves, 7 goals and Lianne Sanderson, 5 goals retired and will not return respectively).
Boston and Western New York were each back to the trading block with the Flash sending defender Amy Barczuk to the Breakers for a second round pick in the upcoming college draft.
Breakers receive: defender Amy Barczuk
Flash receive: No. 18 overall pick in the 2015 draft
How it pans out: The Flash continue to load up on draft picks, now holding the 3rd, 6th, 7th, 18th and 21st picks. With only nine players remaining from the 2014 squad, the College Draft has the potential to be a major step in that rebuilding process.
Boston gains another experienced defender to contribute to plugging the holes on the backline. And again, an added plus is that she will be around when the World Cup players are in and out for the first half of the season.
The Flash weren’t done quite yet, dealing Kat Williamson and veteran midfielder McCall Zerboni across the country to the Portland Thorns for defensive midfielder Amber Brooks.
Flash receive: midfielder Amber Brooks
Thorns receive: midfielder McCall Zerboni and defender Kat Williamson
How it pans out: Brooks played just one season in Portland after she returned from German side Bayern Munich. The acquisition gives Lines an option to play the double defensive center midfield with Brooks and Edwards. FC Kansas City showed how brilliantly this could work out in 2013 with Buczkowski and Desiree Scott. It also seemingly removes Sarah Killion from the Flash’s radar come draft day.
The Thorns nab a veteran presence and a leader in the midfield in Zerboni. She was a staple in the Flash’s midfield, playing in 44 of a possible 46 matches in NWSL. Portland has struggled in the past to be cohesive through its midfield so it will be interesting to see if she can help the midfield gel.
Williamson began her career in Portland, being drafted eighth overall in the 2013 draft before being shipped to the Flash prior to the 2014 season kicking off. The move ultimately brought playmaker Veronica Boquete to the Rose City but the Thorns’ defense will be glad to have her back. Portland owner Merritt Paulson said that the back line was the area he wanted to see improve during 2015 and this move was a step in that direction.