Recent NWSL News Aggregation
Updated: Jan 16, 2022
Photo via Andrea Vilchez / Sports Press Photo
We all need it, don't we? With the league's trade deadline having passed a few hours ago, five teams without a coach, and two drafts in the same week coming up, it seems there's a new headline every time you turn on your phone. All I can say is that this information is fully accurate as of the morning of Saturday, December 4, 2021. It'll probably be outdated by tonight. Prepare yourselves!
This section is sort of all over the place, mainly because of the sheer amounts of trades that have happened in the past week. The NWSL trade deadline was December 3 at 1 pm, so we know that by now, all trades are finalized, but they don’t need to be publicized yet, so this list isn’t exhaustive. Onwards!
-Sam Mewis was traded from the North Carolina Courage to the Kansas City Current. In return, the Courage received Kiki Pickett and the 3rd overall pick in the 2022 NWSL College Draft in two weeks. Mewis is the current reigning US Soccer Female Player of the Year and has been with the Courage since 2017. Last season, she was with Manchester City of the English FA WSL, helping them to end their season in second place. Pickett was an acclaimed college player with Stanford, helping them to two NCAA College Cups in 2017 and 2019. The Current, then Kansas City NWSL, selected her with the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NWSL College Draft.
-Sarah Gorden and Julie Ertz were traded by the Chicago Red Stars to Angel City FC in exchange for full roster protection from Angel City in the upcoming NWSL Expansion Draft. The Red Stars also received an international player slot for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Ertz was selected third overall by the Red Stars in the 2014 College Draft and has been in Chicago ever since. Gorden came to the Red Stars in 2016 and started every game of the 2021 season, where Chicago made it to the NWSL Championship final. According the the Red Stars’ statement, Gorden requested the trade. Freya Coombe, the head coach of Angel City, said this about the acquisition of these two players: “The level of experience and leadership that both Julie Ertz and Sarah Gorden bring to a team is incredible… They are the calibre of player that we want on the field playing for Angel City."
-Makenzy Doniak, Katie Johnson, and Kelsey Turnbow were traded to the San Diego Wave by the Chicago Red Stars in exchange for, once again, full roster protection in the expansion draft, as well as an unspecified amount of allocation money. Doniak and Johnson requested the trade, as they are both originally from Southern California. The Wave said that they were excited to bring experience to their roster with the additions of Doniak and Johnson, and specifically cited Johnson’s experience with the Mexican women’s national team. They also said they looked forward to Turnbow beginning her career with them.
-Nikki Stanton was traded from the Chicago Red Stars to OL Reign. The Red Stars received a third round pick in the 2022 NWSL College Draft. She requested the trade back to her home state. She had been with the Red Stars since 2018. Chicago announced the trades of all six of these players at once, on December 2.
-Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris have been rumored to be heading to NY/NJ Gotham FC from the Orlando Pride. This was reported by Meg Linehan, an influential journalist in the women’s soccer community. It was reported that the trade had not been finalized, but paperwork was in progress. Not much is known otherwise, and as of now there has been no confirmation. Harris has been with the club since 2016, when it was founded, and Krieger since 2017.
-Jodie Taylor was traded from the Orlando Pride to the San Diego Wave. In return, the Pride will receive either a 2023 NWSL College Draft second round pick, a 2023 NWSL College Draft third round pick, or an unspecified amount of allocation money. The eventual compensation should be based on how many games she plays for the Wave in the 2022 season. An English international, 2021 was Taylor’s first season with the Pride.
-Tegan McGrady was traded to the San Diego Wave by the Washington Spirit, reigning NWSL champions. In the deal, the Wave received a 2022 international player slot and a 2022 NWSL College Draft first round pick, in addition to the starting left back. In return, the Spirit received full roster protection from the Wave in the expansion draft.
With all this talk of looming college and expansion drafts, five out of the twelve NWSL teams currently do not have a coach. These teams are the Orlando Pride, the Washington Spirit, Racing Louisville FC, the Kansas City Current, and the Chicago Red Stars. This is due to various different factors, partly the multiple abuse scandals that have been rolling across the league in recent months. However, this number was seven a week ago, so they’re making progress! Here’s the updates on the new (and rumored) NWSL coaches.
-Sean Nahas is the new head coach of the North Carolina Courage. He joined the team in 2017, as an assistant coach under Paul Riley. After the verbal abuse and sexual coercion allegations against Riley that caused him to be fired and the NWSL Commissioner and the NWSL General Counsel to step down, Nahas, stepped into the role of interim head coach. He had also been the Director of the North Carolina Courage Girls’ Developmental Academy since 2004. Courage captain, Abby Erceg, said that she is “...excited to see how he establishes himself as a leader within the club and the league, and I’m looking forward to working with him again next season.”
-Rhian Wilkinson, a former Canada international, is the new head coach of Portland Thorns FC. She had an introductory press conference, along with Thorns general manager, Karina LeBlanc, who happens to also be a former Canada international. Wilkinson referred to the Thorns gig as “THE” job in women’s soccer, and also said that it was her dream job. LeBlanc praised her as “the perfect fit” for the role. They both agreed, however, that it was “embarrassing” (Wilkinson) that Canada didn’t have an NWSL team, saying “I also recognize that I couldn’t work in Canada if I wanted to.”
-Amanda Cromwell has been rumored to be joining the Orlando Pride as their new head coach. She has been with the UCLA women’s soccer team since 2013, leading them to their first ever Championship that same year. She has 55 appearances with the US women’s national soccer team, as well as a 1995 World Cup bronze medal and a 1996 Olympic Games gold medal. She coached Viviana Villacorta at UCLA, and coached Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux at the US Youth National Team level. All three of these players are currently signed with the Pride. On the other hand, however, Cromwell is a partial investor in Angel City FC, one of the Pride’s competitors. She is also dating a player over twenty years younger than her that she coached at UCLA. Also, she was allegedly involved in a college admissions scandal with UCLA in 2016, when, after falsifying an athletic profile and getting it past multiple other officials at UCLA. Lauren Isackson passed a check by an “unnamed UCLA women’s soccer coach” before she was accepted into the college through soccer, despite having almost no experience. Cromwell was never charged with any association to this scandal, but has her name linked to it as she was the head coach at the time. As of the time of writing, Cromwell has officially stepped down from her post with UCLA, but her move to the Pride has not officially been announced yet.
-Canada international and OL Reign midfielder, Quinn, was named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for sports. The only other soccer player on the list was fellow Canada international Alphonso Davies. Quinn’s blurb on the Forbes website read: “Quinn, a pro soccer player for the NWSL's OL Reign, was the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an Olympics, helping Canada win the gold medal at the Tokyo Games. Quinn, who identifies as nonbinary, fights against anti-transgender legislation with Athlete Ally and serves as a player representative with the Canadian Soccer Players Association, pushing gender equity and inclusion initiatives.” Congratulations!
-Speaking of congratulations, Mal Pugh announced her engagement to Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson on Instagram on December 2, with photos captioned “Forever with you♥️” Congratulations to Mal and Dansby!
-The second level of certified referees in the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), who serve the NWSL and USL, have unionized on a 68-3 vote and will be represented by the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA). PSRA Executive Director Steve Taylor said “This vote is a clear statement by the Officials that they seek better working conditions.” It is hoped that this union will seek to improve the quality of refereeing in these leagues, given the frequent NWSL player complaints.
-Cindy Parlow Cone, president of USSF, heavily stresses in a press conference on 12/3/21, that Sally Yates, former United States Deputy Attorney General, and her team, tasked with the current USSF investigation of abuse in the NWSL, are being given full autonomy and the “necessary resources to follow the facts and evidence wherever they may lead her.”
Finally, what’s coming next? The trade deadline has passed, and five coaches need to enter the league in the next twelve days, unless a team is planning on going through the expansion draft coachless. The beauty (the pain?) of this league is that anything could happen at any moment, but there’s two events scheduled in the near future that we know about for sure.
-The NWSL 2022 Expansion Draft will take place on December 16, 2021 at 7pm ET. It can be watched by the public on CBS Sports Network for US viewers, and on https://www.twitch.tv/nwslofficial2 for international viewers. This will be the first time ever that an NWSL expansion draft will have two teams selecting players, which has come with rule changes. Teams can only protect nine players, instead of eleven, and can only protect one allocated player, down from two. The San Diego Wave and Angel City FC will each select one player from each team, and can only select one allocated player each. Racing Louisville FC has full roster protection from Angel City from the Christen Press trade in August, but will still lose a player to the Wave. The Washington Spirit, on the other hand, have protection from the Wave thanks to the McGrady trade, but are still susceptible to Angel City. The Kansas City Current are completely exempt from the draft, due to terms in their contract as a newly formed team. The Chicago Red Stars also have full roster protection from both teams, as a result of the trades they made on December 2. The reason so many trades have happened recently are probably a result of the expansion draft coming up, since teams will want something in return for players they can’t protect. There isn’t currently a public timeline as to when protection lists for each team will be released. (But subscribe to Women’s Sports Exchange and you’ll be notified when they are ;))
-The NWSL 2022 College Draft will take place two days later, on December 18, 2021 at 2pm ET. It will be broadcast on Paramount+ for US viewers, and https://www.twitch.tv/nwslofficial2 for international viewers. There are four rounds with twelve picks per round, in addition to any compensatory picks, for a total of fifty players. The San Diego Wave and Angel City FC flipped a coin for who got the power of choice, with the Wave winning and choosing priority, giving them the first pick in the first and third rounds in the draft. Angel City will have the first pick in the second and fourth rounds. As of the morning of December 4, the draft order for the first round is: 1. San Diego Wave
2, Racing Louisville FC
3. North Carolina Courage
4. Racing Louisville FC
5. Orlando Pride
6. Houston Dash
7. North Carolina Courage
8. NY/NJ Gotham FC
9. San Diego Wave
10. OL Reign
11. Chicago Red Stars
12. Kansas City Current
Yeah, so it’s only been five days since the oldest piece of news covered in this article. I was being completely serious when I said that you have to be always on to keep up. So I hope this helped just a little bit in keeping things straight! Thanks for reading!!