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NWSL Transactions Tracker: Summer and Fall 2020

Looking for National Women’s Soccer League news on who signed where or who got traded? Check back for updates here on all the transactions. Trades and major signings are on top but scroll down past the break for a team-by-team rundown of comings and goings. For our 2019-2020 Transaction Tracker, click here.

HEADLINE MOVES AND ANALYSIS

November 5, 2020

The NWSL announced protected player lists for the 2020 Expansion Draft. Racing Louisville FC can select up to 18 players.

November 4, 2020

Jaelene Daniels retires
North Carolina Courage analysis: Jaelene Daniels’ retirement after six seasons in the NWSL leaves the Courage with a big question to answer at fullback. Daniels (nee Hinkle) was the best left back in the NWSL and an integral part of the Courage’s on-field success over the past few years. Between losing Crystal Dunn and, now, Daniels, it is more obvious why Courage head coach Paul Riley spent large part of 2020 experimenting with new systems. The famous box midfield — with attacking width provided by the fullbacks — might be a thing of the past. The ‘but’ there is this: Merritt Mathias should be ready to go for 2021 and will certainly solve at least one side of that fullback equation. — Jeff Kassouf

November 2, 2020

Racing Louisville FC acquires Cheyna Matthews via re-entry wire
Louisville analysis: Cheyna Matthews, a five-year member of the Washington Spirit, didn’t last long on the NWSL re-entry wire. Matthews was picked up by Racing Louisville FC ahead of its inaugural 2021 season. Matthews joins head coach Christy Holly, who called her a player with a “good reputation around the league.” Currently, Matthews is expecting her second child, and will join Louisville sometime in 2021. — Rachael Kriger

October 29, 2020

Portland Thorns sign defender Natalia Kuikka
Thorns analysis: Kuikka arrives in Portland on a two-year deal after the Thorns teased a signing from the Damallsvenskan for most of the year. Kuikka is a Finland international who comes highly rated as one of the best players of the recent season in Sweden with Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC. She won an NCAA title with Florida State in 2018 and is versatile enough to play anywhere on the back line or as a defensive midfielder. Look for the Thorns to build around her as a central defender. International spots aren’t used lightly in the NWSL, so this speaks to the potential the Thorns see in Kuikka, who turns 25 in December. — Jeff Kassouf

October 26, 2020

Racing Louisville FC acquired Savannah McCaskill, Yuki Nagasato, the No. 5 pick in the 2021 draft, and an international roster spot through 2022 in exchange for full roster protection for the Chicago Red Stars ahead of the expansion draft
Louisville analysis: The league’s newest team added its first players, and did it with a bang. Nagasato is a technical marvel capable of both scoring and setting up goals. McCaskill was the No. 2 pick in 2018 but has had a tough go of it, starting when the Breakers went out of business shortly after drafting her. But she seemed to hit a new stride in 2020, her first full season in Chicago. Adding the international spot won’t matter unless they use it but it is a sign the club plans to be aggressive in that market, and the no. 5 pick speaks for itself. Holly engineered a very successful 2017 draft in his only full cycle as coach of Sky Blue. And all they had to do was promise not to take anyone else off the Red Stars in the expansion draft. — Dan Lauletta
Red Stars analysis: At first look this as a lot to give up. And it was. At the same time, the trade allowed the Red Stars to control the narrative a bit in terms of the expansion draft. They also have five federation players meaning they likely would have had to expose Morgan Gautrat, Alyssa Naeher, and Casey Short. It is easy to say any of those three are well worth a trade for McCaskill, Nagasato, and the other traded assets, but this is the direction the Red Stars elected to go. It is also worth noting that with Emily Boyd hurt, Naeher has no viable backup on the roster at the moment. At the end of the day, good teams with depth are going to be hurt by the expansion draft. This was the Red Stars way of trying to ease the hurt as best as possible.— Dan Lauletta

October 22, 2020

In three-way trade, Portland Thorns FC acquire Crystal Dunn from OL Reign in exchange for the Thorns 1st round pick in 2022, an international slot for 2021, and $250,000 in allocation money; OL Reign acquired Dunn from North Carolina Courage in exchange for Casey Murphy and and $140,000 in allocation money
Thorns analysis: For the second time this year a national team player requested a move to Portland, citing personal reasons. And for the second time this year the Thorns were able to make it happen, this time with a little help from their rivals up I-5. The acquisition of Dunn–the earlier move in 2020 was for Becky Sauerbrunn–was too good to pass up. If Dunn performs anything like she has over three years in North Carolina, the Thorns will hardly miss any of the assets they sent to the Reign. It will just be a matter of fitting her in as Dunn is not a prototypical midfielder for the 4-3-3 they team has favored in the last several years. — Dan Lauletta
Courage analysis: There is little chance the Courage actually wanted to move on from Dunn, and it could well spell the end of their run of dominance. But on the positive side is that they acquired the services of Casey Murphy, one of the top young keepers in the United States. And moving on from Dunn means they are down to two federation players (Abby Dahlkemper and Sam Mewis), both of whom they can protect in next month’s expansion draft. But there is no way to avoid it. The 2021 Courage are going to look very different than the 2017-2019 versions did. — Dan Lauletta
Reign analysis: The Courage and Thorns could not agree on terms to get Dunn to her desired locale, so the Reign stepped in and facilitated the move. They basically traded Murphy for a 1st round pick, an international slot, and a net $110,000 in allocation money. As good as Murphy might be or might ever become, that is too good a deal to pass up. In the short term they will need a goalkeeper to compete with Michelle Betos for the starting role.— Dan Lauletta

October 28, 2020

Washington Spirit re-sign seven players to two-year contracts
Washington Spirit analysis: Paige Nielsen, Ashley Hatch, Bayley Feist, Jordan DiBiasi, Tegan McGrady, Dorian Bailey and Sam Staab. Those seven players are staying in Washington with the Spirit, pending the NWSL Expansion Draft and the release of protected players. The Spirit announced the seven re-signings on Oct. 28, keeping these seven core players part of Richie Burke’s plans in the nation’s capital for the next two years, with a club option for a third season. Washington is a young team with a lot of potential. The Spirit took third place in the NWSL Fall Series with two wins, one draw and one loss. Washington has a lot to build on, and re-signing this group of young, core players is the right step. — Rachael Kriger

 

September 30, 2020

Courage sign Jamaican midfielder Havana Solaun to short-term contract
North Carolina Courage analysis: Havana Solaun should be a familiar face for those who follow the NWSL.  She began her career in the NWSL with the former Seattle Reign, and then made her way to the Washington Spirit, where she made 37 appearances in 2017 and 2018. Solaun spent 2019 in Europe, featuring for Klepp IL in Norway. Internationally, she scored Jamaica’s first-ever World Cup goal in 2019 against Australia. Solaun most recently featured in 2020 for Paris FC and then Apollon Ladies in Cyprus. The 27-year-old midfielder will be eligible to play for the Courage on Oct. 4, against the Houston Dash. — Rachael Kriger

 

September 10, 2020

Utah Royals FC acquire Michele Vasconcelos from Chicago Red Stars in exchange for $55,000 in allocation money
Royals analysis: The Royals are short on players and likely won’t have Christen Press until after the Olympics, if at all in 2021. In Vasconcelos they have acquired a high-upside, attacking player who was born in Sandy, Utah, the same town where she will now be playing home matches at Rio Tinto Stadium. Vasconcelos is not the type of player a team will build an offense around but she can be a contributor and will be rejoining Craig Harrington, the Royals head coach who was an assistant with the Red Stars before this season. The allocation money may have been earmarked for the Dzsenifer Marozsan/Sarah Bouhaddi signings that never came to pass over the summer. — Dan Lauletta
Red Stars analysis: Vasconcelos was a typical Red Stars product. Drafted in the 2nd round, she missed her rookie season because of what she acknowledged was an unexpected pregnancy. But the Red Stars stuck with her and she became an important bench player for the squad in 2018 and 2019 until a torn ACL cut her season short. Nearly four years after drafting Vasconcelos, the Red Stars have turned the investment into $55,000 in allocation money. What they’ll do with that cash is anyone’s best guess and will ultimately be the determining factor in what kind of trade this turns out to be. — Dan Lauletta

September 9, 2020

Christen Press and Tobin Heath sign with Manchester United
Analysis: The Portland Thorns will retain the rights to Tobin Heath when she returns to the NWSL. The Utah Royals FC will retain the rights to Christen Press when she returns. Press and Heath are among many internationals and NWSL players making the jump overseas to Europe, following her USWNT teammates Sam Mewis, Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett. Manchester United is a newer club in the WSL, competing in only the club’s second season in the league.  — Rachael Kriger
Yuki Nagasato makes history
Chicago Red Stars analysis: Yuki Nagasato is making history in Japan. Nagasato is the first woman to sign with a men’s team in Japan, joining Hayabusa Eleven, an amateur men’s club which features in the Kanagawa Prefecture League. Nagasato’s rights will be retained by the Chicago Red Stars. She joined the Red Stars in 2017, and has made 52 appearances since. Her loan in Japan will end prior to the 2021 NWSL preseason.  — Rachael Kriger
Denise O’Sullivan on loan with Brighton & Hove Albion
North Carolina Courage analysis: Denise O’Sullivan, the MVP of the North Carolina Courage last year, will finish the 2020 season on loan with FA WSL club Brighton & Hove Albion. Her loan will last until Dec. 31, 2020. The Irish international parts the NWSL for the remainder of the year with some fond words from head coach Paul Riley. “Brighton will be a great home for her and we wish her all the best for her loan club and country as she continues to identify herself as one of the most gifted and complete midfielders in world soccer,” Riley said. — Rachael Kriger

August 31, 2020

Houston Dash re-sign Rachel Daly to extension through 2023
Dash analysis: The Houston Dash have locked down Rachel Daly through 2023, marking a three-year extension. There is no official indication if allocation money was used to re-sign Daly. Daly was recently crowned a champion at the NWSL Challenge Cup with the Dash, where she scored three goals and provided two assists.  — Rachael Kriger

August 16, 2020

OL Reign acquire Rose Lavelle from Washington Spirit in exchange for 2022 1st round pick, $100,000 in allocation money, and future allocation money based on Lavelle’s playing status in NWSL
Reign analysis: The Reign made this deal knowing Lavelle was likely heading out of NWSL and she has since signed to play for Manchester City. The Reign will retain her league rights and clearly would not have given up a future first-round pick and at least $100,000 in allocation money if they didn’t have full faith of a return to the states sooner than later. Even if their French coach Farid Benstiti ultimately chooses to build outside the draft, first-round picks are valuable commodities. However you break it down, though, a healthy Rose Lavelle has the game to turn any midfield into one of the best in the world, and the final analysis of this trade will come down to how well and how often Lavelle appears for the Reign. — Dan Lauletta
Spirit analysis: The Spirit did well to get a pretty good haul for Lavelle’s rights, and it is one that could help both now and later. Despite a slow start to the allocation money era, we still assume that teams that trade for a pile of it do so with the intent of investing it back in the on-field product. What exactly the Spirit do with this $100,000 is anyone’s best guess, but the club in the age of Steve Baldwin has been far more ambitious than in years gone by. The 2022 draft pick is impossible to put a value on since we don’t know how many teams will be drafting that year and the COVID-19 cancellations of the 2020 college soccer seasons across the country will have untold impact on the player pool. Still, it never hurts to have extra 1st round picks and the Spirit now have the jump on 2022. — Dan Lauletta
Rose Lavelle signs with Manchester City
Analysis: Lavelle not only followed Sam Mewis to Europe she followed her all the way to Manchester City. This will give the English club two-thirds of the starting midfield from last summer’s World Cup final. That could be an invaluable asset for the U.S. as the COVID-enforced wilderness period for the national team enters its sixth month. As for Lavelle, we’re still waiting for her to be healthy enough for long enough to be a weekly force. Perhaps a move to England will be just what she needs to find that. The smart money says she’ll be back in the NWSL sometime after the Olympics. — Dan Lauletta
Racing Louisville FC name Christy Holly head coach
Analysis: The only coaching vacancy to this point was filled early, giving Holly plenty of time to settle in before he is tasked with specifically selecting players both from other NWSL sides and from the world of discovery. Holly was relatively unknown when he got the Sky Blue job in 2016 and coached/coaxed that team to a respectable finish despite working with precious few resources. Things went south in 2017 and officially he stepped down in mid-August. Holly had made good use of the years since latching on with U.S. Soccer where he has helped out at the youth level and served as a scout for the senior team ahead of the World Cup. On soccer grounds, he figures to improve in his second go-round as a head coach. He speaks often about culture which was not well at the end of his Sky Blue tenure, but if he can set Racing on the right course this could turn out to be a sneaky good hire for the league’s 10th team. — Dan Lauletta
Sam Mewis signs with Manchester City
Analysis: With no games on the schedule for club or country and the murkiness of the CBA language in the absence of a standard NWSL season, Mewis jumped at the chance to join English power Manchester City where she will play in the Champions League and likely compete for domestic trophies. The deal is believed to be for one season with an option, which means Mewis would be able to return to North Carolina after the Olympics, or if that doesn’t happen sometime around late June. The Courage are deep in midfield but no one can lose a player as good as Mewis and not feel it. Still, there is a long way until opening day 2021 and the Courage may do some shuffling around since they figure to be the most vulnerable to the expansion draft. The move should be a good one for Mewis since it will get her games in a different environment. Some of those games will be against excellent competition. Note this is neither a transfer nor a loan since Mewis is contracted to U.S. Soccer and not specifically to the Courage. — Dan Lauletta

Chicago Red Stars moves

Yuki Nagasato makes history by joining men’s amateur side Hayabusa Eleven (Japan)
Rachel Hill to Linköpings FC (Sweden)
Cassie Miller to Apollon Ladies FC (Cyprus)
Emily Boyd to HB Køge (Denmark)
Makenzy Doniak to HB Køge (Denmark)
Kayla Sharples to Kuopion Pallesuera (Finland)
Analysis: The Red Stars have never been shy about developing their players and this set of loans is indicative of that. Hill will get a much different experience in Sweden as she has in Australia in recent years and Boyd should get a chance to get regular reps at Køge. Sharples showed she had potential but also her inexperience during the Challenge Cup. All of these players are expected back in time for preseason. — Dan Lauletta

Houston Dash moves

Jamia Fields re-signs with the Dash through the 2021 season
Christine Nairn re-signs with the Dash through the 2021 season, with a club option for 2022
Shania Ashouri (FWD) and Jaci Jones (MF) signed to short-term contracts for the NWSL Fall Series
Cece Kizer signs a two-year contract extension through the 2022 season; on loan with Kolbotn IL in Norway for the rest of 2020
Lauren Silver signed to a short-term contract for the 2020 season
Kayla McCoy removed from 23-player roster due to a knee injury suffered in training
Katie Naughton and Megan Oyster re-sign through the 2021 season, with an option for 2022
Rachel Daly signs extension through 2023
Analysis: Scroll up for full analysis from Rachel Kriger.

North Carolina Courage moves

Havana Solaun signed to a short-term contract through the 2020 season.
Ari Romero signs a short-term contract for the 2020 season
Kristina Maksuti signs for 2020 Fall Series (from Germany)
Peyton Perea signs for 2020 Fall Series (from Spain)
Debinha signs extension through 2022, plus one-year option (allocation money used)
Jessica McDonald signs extension through 2021
Lynn Williams signs extension through 2023 (allocation money used)
Sam Mewis signs with Manchester City (England)
Hailie Mace loaned to Kristiandstads DDF (Sweden)
Lindsay Agnew loaned to KIF Örebro (Sweden)
Paul Riley signs extension through 2022
Analysis: Mewis is one of the best in the NWSL and figures to be one of the best in England as she tries to help Manchester City get over a run of seconditis. Mace, however, is an intriguing move. She was superb in limited minutes during the Challenge Cup and is very likely to be in the mix with the U.S. next cycle. In other words, every minute of match play counts. The contract extensions are only good things, including Riley who was going year-by-year when he first went to North Carolina. Recent signing Maksuti could become the first Albanian international to play in the NWSL. — Dan Lauletta

OL Reign moves

Celia Jiménez has joined Olympique Lyonnais on loan through June 2021
Kimberly Hazlett, Sam Hiatt and Miranda Nild sign short-term contracts for Fall Series
Megan Rapinoe has opted out of the NWSL Fall Series
Adrienne Jordan’s deal with OL Reign is over, as she is now with UD Granadilla Tenerife
Darian Jenkins signs extension through 2022, the joins FC Girondins de Bordeaux on loan until February 2021
Alanna Cook loan is officially over, Cook back with Paris Saint-Germain (France) | Aug. 28, 2020
Rose Lavelle rights acquired, signs with Manchester City (England)
Jodie Taylor transferred to Lyon (France)
Rebecca Quinn loaned to Vittsjö GIK (Sweden); signs extension with Reign through 2021
Lauren Barnes loaned to Kristianstads DFF (Sweden)
Nicole Momiki loaned to Linköpings FC (Sweden)
Jess Fishlock loaned to Reading FC (England)
2022 1st round pick, $100,000 in allocation money traded to Spirit
Analysis: Taylor becomes the first OL Reign player to move directly to the mother ship in France and a month in already has a Champions League medal. All of these agreements are scheduled to expire well in advance of 2021 NWSL preseason. As it stands, the agreement only extends until the end of 2020, so Taylor may well be back in the Pacific Northwest and fully battle tested by the time the Reign begin a 2021 season. Rapinoe opting out of the Fall Series should not have come as a surprise but it may be worth starting to think about how much more soccer she has left in the tank. — Dan Lauletta

Orlando Pride moves

Carrie Lawrence (DF), Ally Haran (DF), Zandy Soree (MF), Deneisha Blackwood (MF), Jordyn Listro (MF), Savanah Uveges (MF) and Kate Howarth (FWD) all signed to short-term contracts for the Fall Series
Chelsee Washington (MF) & Brittany Wilson (GK) have signed through the 2021 season, option for 2022
Taylor Kornieck loaned to the Frauen Bundesliga. Club to be announced soon
Emily Van Egmond loaned to West Ham United (England)
Alanna Kennedy and Shelina Zadorsky loaned to Tottenham (England)
Carson Pickett loaned to Apollon (Cyprus)
Emily Sonnett signs with Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC (Sweden)
Erin McLeod loaned to Ungmennafélag Stjarnan (Iceland)
Camila loaned to SE Palmeiras (Brazil)
Ali Riley loaned to FC Rosengård (Sweden)
Jade Moore loaned to Atletico Madrid (Spain)
Erin Greening waived
Analysis: Sonnett joins a growing group of U.S. Soccer contracted players taking advantage of the down time by heading to Europe for what is more than likely something short-term. Like McLeod and Riley, she has yet to play for the Pride having been acquired last offseason before the team was unable to travel to the Challenge Cup due to COVID-19 positives. — Dan Lauletta

Portland Thorns FC moves

Tobin Heath signs with Manchester United (England) for 2020-21 season
Celeste Boureille on short-term loan with FC Fleury 91 (France)
Analysis: . Tobin Heath has signed with Manchester City for the current WSL season, joining USWNT international teammate Christen Press in wearing red. On the other side of Manchester are fellow international teammates Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis. Meanwhile, Boureille is looking to help a French team in the hopes of making Champions League — and one day upsetting Lyon. — Rachael Kriger

Sky Blue FC moves

Mikaela Howell signed to a short-term contract through the Fall Series.
Kaleigh Riehl loaned to Paris FC (France) until February 2021.
Evelyne Viens loaned to Paris FC (France) until February 2021
Jennifer Cudjoe signs multi-year extension
Nahomi Kawasumi loaned to INAC Kobe (Japan)
Elizabeth Eddy loaned to Vittsjö (Sweden)
Analysis: Two fairly small-term agreements here highlighted by Kawasumi heading home to Japan for the remainder of 2020. That should help sharpen some of the skills that have made her so good since she burst on the scene here in 2014. Cudjoe’s extension may make her the player who gained the most at the NWSL Challenge Cup.— Dan Lauletta

Utah Royals FC moves

Rachel Corsie signs extension through 2022, on loan with Birmingham City FC (England) until March 5, 2021
Analysis: This agreement gives Jonsdottir an opportunity to play at home in Iceland for the first time since she departed Stjarnan eight years ago. That was likely too good an opportunity to pass up. The question for “Gunny” is whether her somewhat emergency-based use on the back line was the start of a new day for her or simply that, a cameo based on need. Corsie should have her hands full with the improving talent in the FSL.— Dan Lauletta

Washington Spirit moves

Paige Nielsen, Ashley Hatch, Bayley Feist, Jordan DiBiasi, Tegan McGrady, Dorian Bailey and Sam Staab re-sign for two years, with a club option for a third season
Rose Lavelle traded to OL Reign
2022 1st round pick and $100,000 allocation money acquired from OL Reign
Analysis: The Pugh/Lavelle era has ended with both talented but oft-injured tandem having been traded seven months apart. See above for full analysis of this trade. See more analysis on the seven re-signings, which happened on Oct. 28, above. — Dan Lauletta

–Isabella Valeriano Munson contributed to this report