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XI Moments of 2018: Mega trade(s) rock the foundation of four clubs

Only two and a half weeks into 2018—and only six picks into the National Women’s Soccer League’s January draft—a mega-trade involving some of the biggest names in the game drastically reworked the rosters of the Chicago Red Stars, Sky Blue FC and the Houston Dash.

While the league only announced the trade in terms of the draft picks being swapped and a series of “players to be named later,” it took only a few minutes for rumors to start swirling and less than two hours for Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News to report that superstars Christen Press, Sam Kerr and Carli Lloyd were all involved in the deal.

By the end of the day—still with no official announcement from the league—the rest of the trade had been reported and turned out to include Jen Hoy, Nikki Stanton and Janine Beckie all switching squads as well.

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The deal, as big as it was, didn’t end that day in Philadelphia as a series of aftershocks followed in the coming months. Despite Houston seeming to receive assurances that Press was willing to play for the Dash, the forward eventually decided that Houston was not the right environment and never suited up for the team. Instead, she opted to head abroad and return to Goteborg, a Swedish club she had played for in 2012.

That move then set-up another mega-trade five months later. In June, a second deal between Chicago and Houston sent a first-round pick and Press’ rights back to the Red Stars in exchange for Sofia Huerta and Taylor Comeau. Chicago then immediately sent Press’ rights and defender Sam Johnson to Utah in exchange for Brooke Elby, four first-round draft picks and a second-round selection (some of which are conditional). Press then returned home from her European sojourn, joining the Royals for the rest of their 2018 campaign.

Beckie, sent from Houston to Sky Blue in the January trade, also moved again before the end of the season. In August, the Canadian midfielder elected to leave the U.S. and head abroad herself, joining Manchester City in England.

Coming full circle, last January’s trade has set-up the biggest question heading into the 2019 NWSL draft, happening on January 10 in Chicago. In two weeks, the Red Stars—with one of the picks acquired from Utah in the deal for Press’ rights—will have the highly-anticipated first pick.

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