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Huh? Kansas City goes untouched in expansion draft

FC Kansas City was the only team of the nine from 2015 to exit the expansion draft untouched. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

FC Kansas City was the only team of the nine from 2015 to exit the expansion draft untouched. (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

When Sarah Hagen was traded to NWSL expansion side Orlando Pride for the very low price of a second-round pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, it was assumed that there was something more to it with the expansion draft on the horizon.

On Monday, that expansion draft came and went without a single player from FC Kansas City being selected by Orlando. That is more than curious given the amount of talent on the board from the Blues. Just look at who was available for selection from FC Kansas City:

Liz Bogus
Leigh Ann Brown
Jen Buczkowski
Kaysie Clark
Katrina Gorry
Caroline Kastor
Sara Keane
Amy LePeilbet
Meghan Lisenby
Heather O’Reilly
Nikki Phillips
Jenna Richmond
Frances Silva

Brown announced her retirement last week, and Heather O’Reilly — the most high-profile name on that list — couldn’t be selected after Orlando took Meghan Klingenberg (to trade her to Portland) and Ashlyn Harris, since the Pride weren’t allowed to take more than two U.S. allocated players.

[MORE: Harris gets her ‘dream’ with move back home to Orlando]

And while there are players who may or may not retire — the perennially underrated Jen Buczkowski has said this could be it for her — there is still plenty of talent on that list. Maybe Buczkowksi could retire. Has Amy LePeilbet suggested the same? Not publicly. What about Nikki Phillips? And why not take 23-year-old Frances Silva? And Australian Katrina Gorry? Australia’s plans for 2016 remain unclear and will hinge on qualifying for the Olympics, something Pride coach Tom Sermanni said on Monday. But he did say he has his eye on a couple of Australians.

So was trading Sarah Hagen — who hasn’t lit up NWSL but has seen time with the U.S. national team and has potential — and a second-round pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft to Orlando for simply a second-round pick in 2017 on the condition that the Pride wouldn’t select any FC Kansas City players in the draft? I asked that on Monday, and Orlando says that isn’t the case.

“A couple on there (the unprotected list) were thinking about retiring and it was something that we needed to consider,” Pride general manager Paul McDonough said.

“We just thought we would take care of ourselves and maybe not roll the dice and risk taking a player that was going to retire.”

It’s hard to think there isn’t more here than meets the eye, considering how little Kansas City got in return for Hagen and the No. 15 overall pick, and considering that there were indeed “good faith” elements to Orlando’s acquisitions of Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris. Morgan wants to be in Orlando, but part of the reason Orlando is in the league next year is because the Pride could acquire her. And the Spirit could have played hardball and protected Harris in the draft, since the mutual interest was public (that also would have come with the risk of losing Ali Krieger, though).

It isn’t as if Orlando didn’t get some quality players — Taryn Hemmings, if she stays in Orlando, is a great pickup, as is Lianne Sanderson — as well as the local players they wanted in Jamia Fields and Toni Pressley. But it’s a real head-scratcher that the defending champions were the only team not to lose a single player in this process.

If many of those players on that list aren’t returning, the two-time defending champion Blues will have some big voids to fill in 2016. But something tells me that a good number of them will be back.

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