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To play or not to play? NWSL players face decisions

One day after the NWSL Supplemental Draft, it is clear the biggest talking point involves the players who are not expected to play. The most discussed of these players has been Tina Ellertson.

Thorns FC made Ellertson the No. 8 overall pick and were immediately criticized—here and elsewhere—because Ellertson herself had announced on Twitter that she was not playing this season. Later in the day Thorns’ coach Cindy Parlow Cone told Equalizer Soccer’s Richard Farley that the club had been in touch with Ellertson prior to the draft and that they expect her to play. The veteran defender has two children and cited family as her reasoning behind skipping 2013. According to Parlow Cone, Portland’s proximity to Ellertson’s family will allow her the opportunity to balance them with soccer.

If Portland was really a possibility then it makes it quite odd that Ellertson would make the announcement only three days before the draft. Maybe she was hinting to other teams that she was not willing to pick up her life and move to the Midwest or the East Coast. Whatever her reasoning, Ellertson is a solid defender and will be an asset to the Thorns and NWSL if she laces up her cleats this summer.

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In Kansas City, the Blues approached their selection of Tina DiMartino with eyes wide open. The thinking, according to team president Brian Budzinski, is that the risk/reward works in the club’s favor since they used the No. 38 pick on a player, that if on the field and fit, is certainly a starting caliber midfielder.

“Tina is a 1st round talent player,” Budzinski said. “She’s someone for us that towards the back end of the draft was a low-risk, high-reward type of pick. If she ends up not playing then we didn’t use a high pick on her. But if she does then we get a great player with a later round selection.”

The Equalizer confirmed on Thursday that DiMartino presently has no plans to play in NWSL.

FC Kansas City also drafted Casey Nogueira, who has not indicated her intentions either way. She was originally thought to be in play as a free agent signing but wound up falling to the 4th round of the Supplemental Draft where FC Kansas City took her at No. 30.

“I think other teams were concerned about the same kind of thing as with Tina,” Budzinski said. Adding that Nogueira has some current ties to the area, he said, “We feel like if Casey is going to be playing, this is the place she is going to play at. We feel very good that she’s going to play in this league this year.”

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The new discovery period opened on Friday. Teams are permitted to “discover” and then sign up to four more free agents. With preseason a little over a month away, the clubs will want to get through this process as quickly as possible.

Of course the last round of free agency is not complete as of yet. We’re still waiting on FC Kansas City to make it official with Sinead Farrelly. Candace Chapman is officially signed by Washington, as reported by The Equalizer last week. That still leaves the Spirit with one more slot to fill.

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The Equalizer team continues to track the proposed Reign-Flash trade, which now seems dead. No trade is imminent and that if one does happen it will not include Amy Rodriguez, the allocated U.S. forward who will miss the season due to pregnancy. A swap of Mexican internationals (Veronica Perez returning to Seattle, where she played with the Sounders, and Teresa Noyola going to the Flash, who drafted her last year before WPS folded) was on the table as part of a bigger package deal, according to sources, but the deal now looks unlikely.

Harjeet Johal of The Equalizer reached out to Veronica Perez and the talented Mexican international said she was unaware of any trade talk involving her.

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Seattle did, however, announce on Friday its fifth signed free agent. Defender Elli Reed, who played for the Breakers before making the move to German club Duisburg, joins defender Kate Deines, Welsh midfielder Jess Fishlock, and forwards Lindsay Taylor and Tiffany Cameron as Seattle’s free agent acquisitions.

“I am extremely excited about this opportunity to play for Seattle Reign FC,” Reed said in a team release. “I am looking forward to learning from the experienced coaching staff and to play alongside the talented players that the club has already signed. Seattle is a city that has become known around the country for its soccer culture and I cannot wait to represent Seattle in the NWSL.”

The 23-year-old was part of Tony DiCicco’s US U-20 World Cup winning team in 2008.

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Tasha Kai, taken 25th-overall by the Washington Spirit, is recovering from a knee injury, but “is expected to be available by, or soon after, the start of the NWSL season,” according to a team press release.

Additional reporting from Harjeet Johal, Richard Farley and Jeff Kassouf.

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