The U.S. women’s national-team star, whose rights were traded to Seattle on Monday in a deal that sent Sydney Leroux to Western New York, has announced her intention to sit out the 2015 NWSL season.
The Reign’s offseason had been quiet, especially by Laura Harvey’s standards.
The Reign coach has a reputation throughout the National Women’s Soccer League as a master tinkerer, forever looking for fresh blood to challenge the status quo.
Harvey’s prodigious player swapping has become so well-known that it even inspired a website, HasLauraHarveyMadeATradeToday.com
On Monday, the long-dormant web domain lit up with an emphatic “yes.”
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Seattle sent United States women’s national-team regular Sydney Leroux and defender Amanda Frisbie to the Western New York Flash for the rights to national-team icon Abby Wambach, midfielder Amber Brooks and a 2016 first-round draft pick.
On Wednesday after Reign practice at Memorial Stadium, Harvey explained the motivation behind the move.
Leroux wanted to be traded, Harvey said, to be closer to her husband, Sporting Kansas City star Dom Dwyer — only to end up in Rochester, N.Y., which is just slightly closer by mileage and without a direct flight to Kansas City.
“We tried to make that work, and we couldn’t,” Harvey said.
Upon first glance, especially to those who view professional women’s soccer through the prism of the national team, it appeared a straight swap anchored by the big names of Leroux and Wambach. It looked to be a puzzling exchange, too, given that the former is a decade younger and that the latter already had announced her intention to sit out the 2015 NWSL season to focus on this summer’s Women’s World Cup.
“I haven’t spoken to (Wambach) about that yet, no,” Harvey said. “That will be a question that most people want an answer to. For us, it’ll be an added bonus but not something we’ve put into major plans because we respect her decision and she’s been very public about the reasons why.
“We hope that, after the World Cup, maybe we can change her mind.”
To view the trade as simply as Leroux-for-Wambach, though, is to overlook Brooks’ potential impact.
The 24-year-old played in 20 matches for the Portland Thorns last season before getting dealt to Western New York in November. Brooks was a two-time national champion as a team captain at North Carolina, and though she has yet to significantly break into the national team, she has played for the U.S. at the U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels. Given the national team’s depth in the midfield, it’s not an easy squad to crack.
“Amber’s also a player for the future, too,” Harvey said. “She’s not just a short-term fix. Abby’s probably not got 10 years left in her career, whereas Amber has. She’s got a lot of short-term benefits to us, but she’s also got long-term benefits, too.”
If Harvey’s offseason restraint was a tribute to the strength of a squad that rolled to the regular-season NWSL title last year with a month to spare, moves such as Monday’s are a vote of confidence in the league as a whole.