On Monday, the Orlando Pride introduced their first three players in Alex Morgan, Kaylyn Kyle, and Sarah Hagen. The three players were picked up by the club in a pair of trades that will largely affect how the fledgling NWSL team treats its expansion draft.
The first and most popular trade was with the Portland Thorns. The Pride traded their first Expansion Draft selection, the first pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, and an international spot for the 2016 and 2017 seasons for star USWNT forward Alex Morgan and Canadian midfielder Kaylyn Kyle.
The Morgan trade also involves U.S. international Meghan Klingenberg, who was traded Monday from the Houston Dash to the Seattle Reign. With each team being able to protect only two U.S. allocated players, the Dash had planned to protect Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian, forcing them to leave Klingenberg unprotected. In return, the Dash will receive 24-year-old, seldom-used Amber Brooks.
However, Klingenberg's stay in Seattle will be brief. Now a member of the Reign, Klingenberg will be left unprotected, with Seattle choosing to protect fellow USWNT players Hope Solo and Megan Rapinoe. Klingenberg will then be selected by Orlando as its first pick in the NWSL Expansion Draft, where she will be promptly shipped off to Portland to complete the (already completed) deal for Morgan and Kyle.
In this deal, in which all four teams win, Houston gets something rather than nothing for Klingenberg, who they couldn't protect anyway. Seattle keeps the vast majority of the back-to-back NWSL shield-winning team intact. Orlando gets the most popular female soccer player in the world as the face of the franchise, and Portland gets a top level defender, among other assets.
The other trade the Pride made was with FC Kansas City for 25-year-old forward Sarah Hagen. The official deal was that Orlando would receive Hagen and FC Kansas City's second pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft for Orlando's second-round pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. The additional part, which is why FC Kansas City made the deal, was that the Pride would not select an allocated player from FC Kansas City, allowing them to keep their three key pieces in Becky Sauerbrunn, Amy Rodriguez, and Heather O'Reilly, even though they must leave one unprotected. There also may have been other unprotected players on the "don't touch" list for the expansion draft as a result of the Hagen deal.
It was a shrewd move by the Pride, as they were unlikely to select anyone from that club anyway. Part of the NWSL Expansion Draft process is that Orlando will only be able to select two U.S. allocated players. Those players were likely to be Klingenberg, as part of the trade with Portland, and Satellite Beach native goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, who has been left unprotected by the Washington Spirit.
In short, these deals mean that the Pride will be selecting their first expansion pick for the Thorns. They will then be unable to select any other players from the Seattle Reign. They will also be unable to select any U.S. allocated players from FC Kansas City.
When Orlando City was preparing its roster for the inaugural MLS season, the club made three trades prior to the expansion draft for players they would build the team around. They've done the same thing with the Pride. And like with the Lions, these trades will have a significant impact on how the club treats the NWSL Expansion Draft.