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Lines sees Leroux as ‘franchise player’ for Flash

Sydney Leroux is now a member of the Western New York Flash after Seattle Reign FC traded her for Abby Wambach, among other pieces. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

Sydney Leroux is now a member of the Western New York Flash after Seattle Reign FC traded her for Abby Wambach, among other pieces. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

Sydney Leroux was traded to her third different team on Monday ahead of the third season of the National Women’s Soccer League, but new coach Aaran Lines sees the 24-year-old forward as a piece around which the Western New York Flash can build.

“We needed a a proven goal-scorer and we’ve got it,” Lines told The Equalizer. “Sydney has the chance to be a franchise player and that is exciting.”

Leroux was traded from Seattle Reign FC to Western New York for the rights to U.S. teammate Abby Wambach on Monday in the most high-profile deal in league history. The Flash also received defender Amanda Frisbie, but gave up midfielder Amber Brooks and a 2016 first-round pick as well.

Wambach announced earlier this month that she would sit out the 2015 NWSL season to focus on the World Cup and, afterward, her new life in Portland, Ore., with her wife, Sarah Huffman.

Lines says that, in light of Wambach’s decision, he was presented with an opportunity that he and technical director Charlie Naimo ultimately felt was a good move for the club.

“It was a bit of a late decision from Abby to not play,” Line said. “[The trade] was a tough decision for us but a good one. We think it makes us better.”

[LAULETTA: Harvey not pressuring Wambach to play in NWSL in 2015]

In January, Leroux married Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer. It appears that reigning NWSL champions FC Kansas City were at one point in discussions about acquiring Leroux, but that door looks to be closed. Lines is planning to have Leroux to start the season, which for the Flash ironically means an April 12 trip to Seattle. Leroux was recently in a walking boot as a precaution but has been training with the U.S. national team; Lines says she is healthy. The longtime Flash coach is planning to have Leroux with the team following the World Cup this summer and he’ll hope to get the player known for bringing a positive spark of energy to the field.

Leroux scored 11 goals in 2013 for the Boston Breakers, who played a direct style that fit her. But she scored only five goals in 22 matches last year for a star-studded Seattle team that tallied 50 goals and played in a more possession-oriented 4-3-3 formation. She has scored 33 goals in 67 games with the United States.

[LAULETTA: How Wambach’s decision to skip the 2015 season impacts the NWSL]

Western New York had planned on playing Brooks in the midfield, but Lines says that No. 3 overall draft pick Abby Dahlkemper is capable of sliding into the midfield, in addition to Becky Edwards and Jordan Angeli. She is best known as a center back. Lines also sees Frisbie — who missed the entire 2014 season with a foot injury — as a player who “fits the mold” for the Flash.

Reign FC coach Laura Harvey tells The Equalizer’s Dan Lauletta that she did not make the trade with the idea that Wambach would play in 2015. Her decision to sit out was met with some criticism by Lines, who said that a player should not be available for her country if choosing to sit out club play. On Monday, Lines said that his relationship with Wambach is not broken, but he doesn’t regret what he said. “It was just my opinion and I stand by it,” he told The Equalizer. “Players don’t get to choose if they play club.”

“The bottom line for Western New York right now is that we don’t have Abby. So how can we find a replacement now?”

That is the question Lines said he needed to answer. The resolution came in the form of Leroux.

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