Friday, June 9, 2023

NWSL trade window winners and losers: Red Stars have plenty of work to do, Wave FC off to quick start

The National Women’s Soccer League transfer window has closed and several teams engaged in trades ahead of the upcoming 2022 Expansion Draft and 2022 NWSL Draft. The league will expand to 12 clubs in 2022 as San Diego Wave FC and Los Angeles Angel City FC enter the fold. The two teams will continue to build out their rosters on Dec. 16 during the expansion draft, which will be aired on CBS Sports Network and streamed live on Paramount+.

The NWSL Draft will be held Dec. 18 and will air on Paramount+ and on CBS Sports HQ. Fans can also watch both events on the CBS Sports HQ Twitch channel and on the CBS Sports HQ and NWSL YouTube channels. Both drafts will stream internationally outside the U.S. on the NWSL’s Twitch channel.

The double expansion draft event let to multiple teams engaging during the transfer window, with full roster protection and partial roster protection as a valuable asset. In between the big negotiations, there were also declined player options and contract extensions. The next window opens after the expansion draft, but let’s take a look at some of the biggest moves from the recent trade window.


Chicago Red Stars

Lost: Sarah Gorden (Angel City), Julie Ertz (Angel City), Nikki Stanton (OL Reign), Makenzy Doniak (San Diego), Katie Johnson (San Diego) and Kelsey Turnbow (San Diego).

Gained: Roster protection in expansion draft (Angel City and San Diego) and $25,000, third-round pick in 2022 NWSL Draft.

Silver lining: Contract extensions to USWNT players Tierna Davidson, Mallory Pugh, Casey Krueger and Alyssa Naeher through 2023 with an option for 2024.

Chicago’s offseason began with a loss in the 2021 NWSL Championship final followed by franchise turmoil when Rory Dames resigned as coach. The announcement of the resignation from the former 10-year Red Stars coach came in a middle-of-the-night press release, and the following day a report detailing allegations of verbal abuse and harassment put the club in disarray. 

Per trade release, several of the Red Stars trades were made to accommodate player requests, leading to the loss of hometown talent Gorden and long-time Red Star Julie Ertz, who had been with the club since being drafted in 2014. Johnson and Doniak were two role players essential to Chicago’s playoff run. 

The addition of Turnbow as a package deal for San Diego is perhaps the most glaring question mark. Turnbow was drafted by Chicago in 2021 and never played a match for the club, opting to complete her season with 2020 NCAA champion Santa Clara, where she had back-to-back breakout tournament seasons. 

The return of $25,000 and full roster protection is a questionable return on assets at best when you are moving a large chunk of that roster in the first place. Chicago’s silver lining is perhaps their recent announcement that four USWNT players have signed multiyear contracts with the Red Stars, securing Davidson, Pugh, Krueger and Naeher for a short window, and are banking on the lure of a future coaching prospect to manage the four along with a midfield anchored by Morgan Gautrat.

Orlando Pride

Lost: Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Jodi Taylor (San Diego), Alex Morgan (rumored to San Diego).

Gained: First-round pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft, a 2023 NWSL Draft natural third-round pick and $50,000 in allocation money from NJ/NY Gotham FC, 2023 NWSL Draft natural second-round pick, natural third-round pick or allocation money, pending conditions met from San Diego. 

Silver lining: New ownership and new coach Amanda Cromwell.

Orlando Pride were one of several teams in need of having their coaching position filled this offseason. The recent acquisition of the club by the Wilf family has already begun their organizational restructure, parting ways with former executive vice president Amanda Duffy and looking ahead to 2022. The symbolic window has officially closed for a veteran group of players the Pride built around years ago with the recent trade of Krieger and Harris to Gotham, and now Morgan rumored on the move. Recent reports say Morgan’s move to San Diego will occur in the next transfer window on Dec. 17. 

Additional questions around Brazilian international Marta and her place in the club also remain, despite the forward signing a contract in 2021 to extend her time with the club through 2022, and forward Sydney Leroux is signed with the club through 2023.

The restructuring of the organization, combined with the departure of club veterans and the collection of draft picks flags a definite rebuild — and the recent announcement of Amanda Cromwell as coach could symbolize a new era for the club.

Louisville Racing

Lost: None.

Gained: None.

Silver lining: TBD.

The club was largely inactive during the transfer window, not making any trades or rumored to be involved in major moves, and still are in the hunt for a new coach. The team made a trade for roster protection with Angel City during the 2021 season, which also included $75,000 in allocation money, but have yet to get involved in the current offseason movement.

The team closed out their 2021 in ninth place and struggled defensively despite a break out performance by their rookie fullback Emily Fox, but have yet to build on their roster from last year or fill their coaching vacancy ahead of the 2022 season. 


San Diego Wave FC

Lost: Allocation money, draft picks, roster selection in expansion draft from Chicago Red Stars, Washington Spirit and Gotham FC.

Gained: Kalien Sheridan (Gotham FC), Tegan McGrady (Washington Spirit), Katie Johnson, Makenzy Doniak and Kelsey Turnbow (Chicago Red Stars).

Next move: Expansion draft, Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride, rumored).

The club has gotten off to a quick start with building out their roster through the transfer window. San Diego previously announced their first player signing with USWNT defender Abby Dahlkemper, and quickly added to the mix over the trade window with McGrady, Johnson, Doniak, Turnbow, and Sheridan. The addition of 2020 Olympic gold medalist Sheridan at goalkeeper nearly solidifies the defense behind Dalhkemper and McGrady. Should the club add Morgan to the roster their attack will have experienced star power, and a budding prospect, as Turnbow is rated as top talent exiting the collegiate game. 

Angel City FC

Lost: Full roster selection with Racing Louisville, Chicago Red Stars, allocation roster selection with Washington Spirit, partial roster protection with OL Reign (no forwards may be selected), $55,000 in allocation money.

Gained: Sarah Gorden, Julie Ertz, Mary Alice Vignola, 36th overall draft pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft.

Next move: Expansion Draft.

The Hollywood franchise has dazzled since their introduction to the league and announced their first player signing midseason with California native Christen Press. Ahead of the expansion draft the club acquired Sarah Gorden and Julie Ertz via Chicago, adding their first defender and midfielder to the roster. The club followed that trade with the signing of MA Vignola, the former University of Tennessee alum who spent time in Iceland, where she scored eight goals in 30 games as a defender.

Kansas City Current

Lost: Kiki Pickett, first-round draft pick in 2022 NWSL Draft.

Gained: Samantha Mewis.

Next move: The club is not at risk of losing players in the upcoming expansion and can focus on the NWSL Draft.

The club ended their inaugural season in 10th place and quickly began looking ahead to the 2022 season, launching their rebrand and unveiling their new team crest. The team shifted Huw Williams into a technical-staff role to focus on scouting and identification of talent. The club opened their trade window with a big acquisition, trading for USWNT midfielder Sam Mewis, establishing multiple star players in three phases of the game. Midseason trades during the 2021 season brought forward Kristen Hamilton and USWNT goalkeeper Adrianna Franch into the fold, and the addition of Mewis immediately boosts the young franchise on pitch talent.

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