The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, Oct. 26, 2020

Big player moves; Racing Louisville begins to take shape — Lots of links — Crystal Dunn talks big Portland move

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I’ve been taking some time off to kind of decompress before my busy college football season hits, including a self-imposed vacation from social media. I think I may be breaking my Twitter addiction, which is good. I’m definitely getting better at putting work totally aside when I’m supposed to be off, and my own mental health and my relationships are benefitting.

But I still hate when news breaks while I’m not paying attention, and it turns out a lot is happening in the woso world.

I woke up this morning to find that Racing Louisville has traded with Chicago for forwards Yuki Nagasato and Savannah McCaskill, the fifth overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft and an international roster spot for both the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

In return, Chicago gets full roster protection in the expansion draft next month.

Louisville’s move follows Crystal Dunn’s move to Portland, which, because of my vacation, I didn’t see until well after the fact.

Many people had been speculating about such a move for a while, because Dunn’s husband works for the Thorns and the couple have a home here.

It was still dramatic when it finally happened, mostly because the Thorns didn’t have to give up Lindsey Horan, which was among the rumors.

The three-team deal sent goalkeeper Casey Murphy to the Courage. There was allocation money sent around, and Portland gave up an international roster spot to the Reign. Rachel Kriger from The Equalizer provides an excellent breakdown of the money involved here.

So here’s the issue that immediately came to mind: Two allocated players wanted to come to Portland (Yes, it’s great) for personal reasons, and it happened. The Thorns now have an embarrassment of allocated riches: Dunn, Horan, Becky Sauerbrunn, Christine Sinclair, Adrianna Franch and Tobin Heath, if she returns.

I don’t know. Is the NWSL strong enough as a league to have super teams, like the Golden State Warriors? Should competitive balance still be a priority?

At the same time, hasn’t the Houston Dash showed that a collection of big-name stars isn’t essential to win? Perhaps the league already has competitive balance. This season it is just difficult to know.

It’s also possible that we won’t know if Portland has created a juggernaut next season because of Olympic absences, and we also won’t know how much the Courage has been hurt, if at all, without Dunn.

And then there’s the expansion draft, coming up on Nov. 12. Teams must hand in protected players lists on Nov. 4. The rules have not yet been announced, but Meg Linehan obtained a copy of them for a story she did for The Athletic, which you can find here.

When the Orlando joined the league, it was able to select as many as 10 unprotected players. Playoff teams were allowed to protect 9 players, other teams could protect 10.

Linehan’s reporting indicates that teams will only be able to protect two allocated players. That puts Portland in a really difficult spot. Would think that Dunn and Sauerbrunn, who asked for trades to Portland, might be bummed if they are unprotected and get selected by Louisville. Guessing Horan, Heath and AD are going to be vulnerable.

But, as Linehan points out, there’s financial incentive for Louisville NOT to gobble up allocated players via allocation money.

So, buckle up. We may know the protected lists a day after the election, which feels strangely appropriate.

And a quick reminder, KeeperNotes is keeping track of all the rosters and moves here.

On to the links!


(Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. ESPECIALLY NOW, as newsrooms are forced to make difficult choices. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

Sandra Herrera from CBS Sports looks at the Dunn trade.

Kevin Baxter with the LA Times with the official naming of Angel City FC and some notable new investors.

Annie Costabile with the Chicago Sun Times with a good story on surviving an expansion draft.

Sarah Rendell of NewsChain looks at the NWSL season, and ahead to 2021.

Sounder At Heart’s Steve Voght reports the NWSL is likely to adopt a homegrown player rule.

Seth Vertelney of wrote a nice piece on Sophia Smith.

The Enterprise (Massachusetts) profiled Kristie Mewis.

Coach Randy Waldrum is taking over Nigeria’s Super Falcons. Interesting move, from ESPN.

Julia Poe wraps up the Pride’s season and looks ahead to 2021 for the Orlando Sentinel.

Dynamo Theory with a story on Houston’s Shae Groom.

Interesting story here from the CBC on Erin McLeod and the Mindful Project.

Is Vero Boquette headed to AC Milan?

Dan Lauletta of The Equalizer takes a look at what the Dunn move might mean for Portland and North Carolina.

Also from The Equalizer, I really liked this from John Halloran on Rachel Corboz and playing abroad.

And one last one from the Equalizer on the Next Gen Five.

The Ringer looks at the immensely talented Vivianne Miedema.

England’s game against Germany cancelled because of positive staff coronavirus case, from Vavel.

Carly Telford hints she’s retiring after the Tokyo Olympics.

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Five at The IX: Crystal Dunn

Here’s some of what Crystal Dunn said during her Zoom session with reporters about the trade:

Question: What have the conversations been like about the trade, with Vlatko, other national teamers, your family?

Dunn: I pretty much kept a lot of the trade talks to myself for a long time because I just wanted to use that time to really communicate with my family and close friends on how I got to that point of really wanting to pursue getting traded. I did have a couple of conversations with Vlatko a couple weeks ago just to put it on his radar, that that’s what I was thinking of doing. And he showed his support. He obviously said ‘It’s a great environment for you. So you can’t can’t go wrong with with being a part of that organization. And it really meant a lot that he supported me in that.” [00:01:01][37.7]

Question: How much did being able to exercise some control over your own circumstances and career played a part in making this decision now?

Dunn: Obviously, when I first stepped into the NWSL, I always thought that I’d be a player that stays on one team. That was something that I definitely thought I’d see myself doing. I was extremely happy it at Washington Spirit and opportunities presented themselves where I went overseas and then ended up getting traded to North Carolina. And I think I have been on this path of just dealing with unexpected things, and like you touched on, I play multiple positions. I’m definitely adaptable at all times. This was an opportunity for me to be able to take control of over my career. North Carolina has been extremely supportive. And that was really big for me. I think most people, when they talk about getting traded or wanting to be traded, they are super unhappy and they want out and they’re scratching and clawing. And I think from my situation, it was different. I spoke calmly to North Carolina earlier this year just voicing that distance has been hard for me and my husband. Distance is one thing, but living completely on the opposite side of the country is really difficult. They understood, they accepted how I felt. Throughout this year, we had various conversations. And after the full series is when I started to voice, ‘Hey, can you make this happen? What do you think?’ And they’ve showed nothing but support and I’m so grateful that they handled it in the way they did, because, of course, they did voice that they wanted me to stay. They were like, ‘We would really, really want you to say. But we understand that family is important and having balance in your life is extremely important as well.’

Question: Can you share with that moment was like when it was official. When you got that call, what was that moment like?

Dunn: This happened a couple of days ago and I think it officially was being announced yesterday. But I’ve been definitely on a rollercoaster, kind of feeling, these last couple of days, because like I touched on, it’s hard to say goodbye. I loved playing in North Carolina. It’s such a special place for me. And my teammates were incredible, the environment was incredible and it’s been hard, you know. But of course, I am excited for a new chapter. I’m excited to be challenged in a different way and playing in an incredible new city and in front of so many amazing fans. I look forward to that. But of course, I have to hold close to my heart what North Carolina has done for me and all the special moments I’ve had there.

Question: What do you know about Portland?

Dunn: Well, I mean, obviously, it is an incredible soccer city. And every time I’ve played in the stadium, even though the fans weren’t cheering for me, I always felt very energized in that stadium. Now, obviously, wearing a Thorne’s jersey, I’m going to be even more energized. So I’ve always loved the environment. I’ve loved just the organization in itself. They they have so many top players and so many experienced players. And I look forward to definitely playing alongside, obviously, Becky, who I play with on the national team, a Lindsay Horan, a Sinc, a Klingberg. Just getting the opportunity to play with players that have been in the league and have that soccer experience is something I’m definitely looking forward to.

Question: What is the vibe like being back with the group after seven and a half months? And also, we saw today the U.S. men’s teams is going to be playing Wales next month. What will it mean to be able to play another team?

Dunn: It’s definitely been really exciting getting back with this group. Of course we do have a lot of new faces in camp, and it definitely feels a little bit different. But at the end of the day, it’s so nice to be able to train with each other and just get to know new players and also catch up with players that you haven’t seen in a long time. So it’s been incredibly great. I’m so happy they were able to put the protocols in place because it’s so important to remember that we are in the middle of a pandemic and of course, we want to play the game that we love to play. We have to also be smart and be mindful and just really be disciplined. And I think everyone here knows the risks of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time and putting other players at risk. So I think it’s just been great to be with each other and just to enjoy the sport again.

Question: Just curious what kind of conversations, if any, you had with Mark about how he envisions utilizing you in Portland?

Dunn: I haven’t actually had a sit down conversation with Mark yet, but I did voice to him that I don’t really want to play in the back line. So if he has that idea lined up, I’m like, OK, well, I’ll deal with it. But I think he knows that I definitely want to pursue an attacking role. And I think he can agree with me as well on that. And he’s excited. I’m excited. Of course, Mark was my first professional coach. So to me, it’s like our our lives are meeting back up again. He’s grown so much as a coach since I’ve last played for him. I know that he’s super passionate every time I play against his tea, I can always hear him. So I know he loves to be vocal, loves to encourage players on the on the sidelines. I’m just I’m looking forward to meeting back up with him and playing on him again.

Question: There’s a storyline there between Carolina and Portland, a little bit of a rivalry that comes into play. Can you speak a little bit about taking the jump over to the Thorns side.

Dunn: I mean, there has been a huge rivalry between North Carolina and Portland Thorns. And I think that’s what makes this move obviously very interesting. Obviously, at the beginning of my career, never thought I’d see myself playing for the Thorns. They were the team that everyone was like, “Oh, they have everything. So we’ve got to take them down.’ I think it’s just life works in mysterious way and I think it’s really cool to kind of wake up this morning and be like, ‘I’m playing for a team that I never thought that I’d play for.’ I was always the one competing against them and wanting to take them out and that kind of thing. But I’m looking forward to it. Like I said, the environment has always energized me and made me feel like this is a proper professional environment. To be able to wear that jersey and have the fans cheering my name now and cheering for me is going to be definitely a really great feeling,versus the opposite happening.

Question: Is there any player that you’re really hyped to play alongside with versus having to go against games?

Dunn: Oh, Lindsey Horan. I mean, that is definitely a player that I feel like every time it was North Carolina versus Portland, Paul would be like, ‘Make sure Lindsey doesn’t get on the ball Crys. Wherever she goes, just make it hard on her,’ And obviously, I spend the whole game where I’m like, ‘I just want to be free. I want to do my thing. I don’t be worried about Lindsey getting on the ball.’ But now she’ll alongside me and I feel like my job will be a lot easier.

Question: Obviously, this year has not been great a lot of ways. But is there kind of a part of you that is a little OK with having any chance to get a little bit of a break?

Dunn: I think actually this camp is pretty interesting because we’re all coming from so many different places. It was almost like this camp was set up to get us all back on the same page. You have players who have played both in the Challenge Cup and the fall series and players who might have might have done one and not the other. And for me, I played in the Challenge Cup in and took the fall series off. So this camp was definitely challenging, leading into it, because I felt like I took seven weeks basically of training on my own and doing personal individual training. I think this year everyone really needed to do what was best for them. I think it was it was stressful in so many ways that there was no right answer on how to really navigate through this year. So like I said, I think this camp came at a great time because it allows people to just reset and regroup. Everyone’s here trying to have fun and obviously work hard and get better. But I think no one is overstressing and overwhelmed with trying to make the team. Right now it’s about ‘Let’s be unified, let’s regroup, let’s get back on the same page, let’s encourage each other to keep going.’ Because we all know that this year was incredibly difficult.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
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Written by Annie Peterson