The NWSL’s Pacific Northwest rivals partnered on a significant trade Thursday that sent midfielder Allie Long up the coast to Seattle in exchange for the rights to Caitlin Foord and a conditional draft pick in 2020.
The Reign acquired Foord’s rights from Sky Blue in a separate deal that saw the New Jersey side receive Rebekah Stott and Katie Johnson.
The centerpiece of the moves is U.S. international Long, who initially signed with the Thorns in January 2013 with one off their available free-agent slots. She has been a fixture on the pitch ever since, scoring 31 goals and adding 13 assists. In her five seasons with the Thorns, she helped the club win the NWSL Championship in 2013 and 2017 and the Shield in 2016. In the 2013 semifinal in Kansas City, Long scored the extra-time game-winner that completed a rally from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Long eventually earned a contract through U.S. Soccer and was part of the United States’ Olympic team in 2016.
Thanks so much for everything, Allie! Will miss you. You did great things here.
— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) January 11, 2018
“Since the league started, Vlatko has been a coach whose style of play is something I have always admired and respected,” Long said. “The fact he is at Seattle with some of the best players in the world is a dream scenario. I know this is exactly what I need to become the best player I can be. I am excited for the next challenge in my career – the best is yet to come. This team is special and it’s an honor to be a part of it. I can’t wait to make it reign.”
Foord was in NWSL limbo the last two seasons after electing not to report to Sky Blue, where she played from 2013-2015. She is currently out of contract after finishing up a stint in Japan and is also paying for Sydney FC in the Australian W-League.
— Caitlin Foord (@CaitlinFoord) January 12, 2018
Thorns coach Mark Parsons sounded like a man planning on having Foord as part of him team.
“Caitlin is one of the most explosive and exciting players in the world,” Parsons said. “She has the ability to create and finish in various ways. Her enthusiasm and tireless work rate on both sides of the ball will bring a new dimension to our team.”
Foord will cost the Thorns an international spot which should not be an issue with Amandine Henry and Nadia Nadim having left after last season and Dagny Brynjarsdottir set to miss the season on maternity leave.
Sky Blue have now added four players and the No. 4 overall pick in the last two weeks, with only Kelley O’Hara, Taylor Lytle, a 3rd-round pick, and the rights to Foord leaving the side. Stott will be part of a back line that completely fell apart under Christy Holly last season. Johnson scored four goals as an NWSL rookie last season despite playing mostly off the bench. Sky Blue previously acquired Shea Groom and Christina Gibbons from Utah. None of Sky Blue’s new players have turned 25.
“I am really excited about internationals Stott and Johnson coming to Sky Blue FC,” Sky Blue coach Denise Reddy said. “Stott is a proven back in this league, and her ability on the ball and running a defensive line are top level. Johnson is an attacking powerhouse with the movement, awareness and technical ability to be a top forward in this league.”
Thorns owner Merritt Paulson tweeted confirmation of a tweeted report by Jamie Goldberg of The Oregonian that the Thorns are close to announcing another trade for a central midfielder.