The dismantling of the Flash roster continued on Thursday when the club traded longtime midfielder McCall Zerboni plus Kat Williamson to Portland in exchange for Amber Brooks. Zerboni had been with the Flash since 2011 and helped them win trophies in three different leagues while serving as captain for parts of her stay.
The Flash have now traded five of the 11 players who started for them last opening day. Two others have left. Adriana parted ways with the club at the end of the season and Lydia Williams was selected by the Spirit in the postseason waiver draft. The club previously traded Carli Lloyd to the Dash, Angela Salem and Katherine Reynolds to the Spirit, and Amy Barczuk to the Breakers.
“McCall has been a cornerstone of our club since 2011 and has contributed so much to the Western New York community,” Flash head coach and general manager Aaran Lines said in a statement. “I wish nothing but the best to McCall and Kat.”
Zerboni was part of championship sides in 2011 (WPS) and 2012 (WPSL Elite) and the shield winning side in 2013 (NWSL.) The club stood by her following a drunk driving arrest in the fall of 2011. Her story was documented by Jeff DiVeronica in the Democrat and Chronicle (story is behind a pay wall).
Zerboni tells DiVeronica that she requested a trade.
“I’ve been here four years and it was time for change for my career and maybe for leadership within the main players of the club,” Zerboni said. “I’m a West Coast girl and I’m excited to be back on the West Coast. I think it’ll turn out to be a really great thing for me. I’m going from one great club to another.”
Williamson played for the Thorns in 2013, helping them win the championship despite her being sent off in the final at Western New York. She was traded to the Flash before the 2014 season and played a more sporadic role shifting often shifting between center back and fullback. She is likely to return to her role partnering Rachel Van Hollebeke in central defense for the Thorns, who lost Nikki Marshall to a torn ACL in the last game of the regular season.
“Kat returning home to Portland gives us depth, leadership, and quality in the back,” Thorns coach Paul Riley, who did not coach Williamson in 2013, said in a release. “She has championship experience and it’s brilliant to have her back.”
Zerboni, who went to UCLA and played for the Los Angeles Sol in WPS, figures to be an ample replacement in Portland for Angie Kerr, who recently announced her retirement.
The Flash clearly coveted Brooks, who figures to play a more offensive role at Sahlen’s Stadium with the presence of Becky Edwards as the holding midfielder. The Thorns coaxed her back from Germany last season after taking a flier on her with the 24th pick in the 2013 draft even after she announced her intention not to play in the league that season. She had various roles in a Thorns’ midfield that had its share of struggles throughout the season.
“(Amber) is a player that’s just knocking on the door of the national team,” Lines said. “I think she’s going to be eager to perform for the club in light of the opportunity she’ll have over two years to end up on the national team. I’m very excited about bringing brooks to the Flash.”
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