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The Lowdown: Red Stars already planning ahead

Keelin Winters (left) was traded from the Chicago Red Stars to Seattle Reign FC last week. (Photo Copyright: Meg Linehan for

The Red Stars became part of the first NWSL trade last week when they sent Keelin Winters to Seattle for the Reign’s 1st round pick in the 2014 college draft plus a U.S. allocation spot for 2014. Reign FC also get the Red Stars’ 4th round pick in 2014.

There is no getting around the fact that the trade will benefit the Reign right away and the Red Stars down the road, but it does not mean the Red Stars are not pleased with their club with preseason looming in less than a week.

“We feel very good about our group,” Red Stars coach Rory Dames told the Lowdown after the deal. “We feel very good about the team we have and the level we’re going to be able to compete with.”

The genesis of the trade, from the Red Stars perspective, was their surplus of defensive midfielders. They were allocated Winters and Shannon Boxx and then added Leslie Osborne in free agency. Dames decided, with Winters’ blessing, that it was in the best interest of all parties to move the 24-year old Portland alumna to a club where she could train and play full-time at her chosen position.

“We might have had the three best defensive midfielders in the league,” Dames said. “Leslie’s a player I’ve known for a long time and feel very comfortable about. Obviously Shannon is probably a top two or three holding midfielders in the world right now. Keelin needs to go somewhere and play and play in a position where the national team thinks she can develop into a potential starter for them. So it just didn’t make sense to try to move her to a different position in the midfield when we felt very good about the two that we had. So quite honestly it made sense for Keelin to move her on to somewhere where she’s going to continue to get game time and field time because she’s still a very young player.”

The exit of Winters leaves Boxx and Osborne as defensive midfielders who could combine with Lori Chalupny and Lauren Fowlkes to form one of the more imposing units in the league.

Looking further ahead the Red Stars now own two first round picks in what is expected to be a draft deep in attacking talent.

“There is no question that if you look at players who impacted the college game, there are some very, very good players coming out next year that can be immediate impact players,” Dames said. “So for us, trying to get as many 1st round picks as we can get next year will go a long way toward building a solid foundation for the team for years to come.”

As for the allocated player, the immediate speculation was that it would be Amy Rodriguez, allocated to the Reign but skipping the season to have a baby. However, sources have indicated it could be any player, even one not currently among those being funded by US Soccer.

Lauletta’s Take

I have a general rule that says we should wait five years after anything happens before attempting to analyze it. But the information revolution dictates that after any two sports teams work a trade, we have to determine the winners and losers within the hour. Ridiculous as that may seem, it is just that much more so when the teams are part of a league that has yet to kick a ball or even open preseason.

With that in mind, in this space you can look for some instant analysis of any and all NWSL trades, with the codicil that time has a way of changing how we look at these things. No winners and losers either, just a little analysis.

March 1, 2013
Red Stars get: Seattle Reign FC 1st round pick in 2014 and a US allocation in 2014
Reign get: Keelin Winters and Red Stars 4th round pick in 2014

Red Stars: Tough to judge because there are no tangible assets at this point, but an allocated player in 2014 is guaranteed to be quality. Drafted players are much less of a sure thing, but the 2014 class looks like it will be headlined by Crystal Dunn, Kealia Ohai, Maya Hayes, plus recently capped Julie Johnston. It is also considered a deep draft so even though 2013 has yet to start, the Red Stars must be excited about draft day 2014.

As for losing Winters, the club did have too many numbers in midfield, so while they lose a quality player, midfield does not appear to be an issue—at least on paper—in Chicago.

Reign FC: It’s tough to imagine a team can be so decimated by player absence even before preseason, but the Reign have already lost the services of Amy Rodriguez, Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo for all or part of the season. Additionally, their 1st round Supplemental Draft pick Nikki Krzysik has yet to make a decision about her playing future.

With that in mind, Winters is a quality addition who at 24 figures to be the veteran presence in a young midfield. She is also on the cusp of the national team although she has yet to earn her first cap.

Surrendering an allocation spot and 1st round pick might be a steep price to pay for Winters. But new teams tend to ingrain themselves in certain cultures almost immediately and if Winters can help put the Reign on a winning track, it could be well worth the future considerations.

Free Kicks

-The US women won their Algarve Cup opener 3-0 over Iceland on Wednesday, getting goals from Abby Wambach (her 154th career goal, four off Mia Hamm’s record), Rachel Buehler (wearing the captain’s armband in her 100th cap) and Shannon Boxx. China is the next opponent for the US on Friday at 9 a.m. ET.

-Dames said Lindsay Tarpley is just about ready to go and while she might not be a full participant when training camp opens next week, he said opening day is a possibility. Tarpley has not played in nearly two years.

-Dames added that all of the Red Stars’ supplemental draft picks are expected to report to camp.


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