There has been swirling speculation in the past few days about what impact Orlando City’s record-setting deal for star striker Dom Dwyer will have on the soccer world. The move could create waves in the entirety of the American soccer landscape — namely the NWSL, where speculation abounds regarding Sydney Leroux, Dwyer’s wife and star of FC Kansas City.
Dom’s move comes less than two years after Leroux finally got her wish to play in the same city as her husband. The USWNT star tried to force her way to FCKC from the Seattle Reign, who shipped her to the Western New York Flash instead, before she finally landed in Kansas City in January 2016. Now, with her husband on the move, trade rumors have begun again.
The positives for Orlando soccer in general abound. Leroux, while on the fringes of the USWNT, is still a big name in the American women’s soccer world and could fit right in alongside the Pride’s current roster of attackers; whether Leroux is wide right or central, she’s a goal scorer by nature. But the early chatter around Leroux’s camp is that she isn’t going to force a move to the Orlando Pride, instead saying she’ll focus on FCKC and raising the couple’s young son, Cassius, who celebrates his first birthday in September. She was adamant when responding to questions about her future on Twitter:
Fight like hell to get back after having a baby. Focus on FCKC. Support my husband from afar. Be a bad ass mom. https://t.co/x4Qvw6KGKe— Sydney Leroux Dwyer (@sydneyleroux) July 26, 2017
The secondary registration/transfer window closed on July 5 but the NWSL roster freeze date is Aug. 29. Whether or not NWSL would allow a trade is up in the air; there is precedence for moves to happen outside of windows as long as the federation holds all of the necessary International Transfer Certificates (ITCs) which would be the case if Leroux, FCKC, and the Pride all wanted to get a deal done for the end of this year.
Would Kansas City trade one of its brightest stars? Chances are it might be so inclined given that Leroux spent the 2016 season out pregnant and has just three goals and one assist through 15 appearances this year. Her production has not matched her price tag after FCKC gave up two draft picks, two international slots, and Jessica McDonald to acquire Leroux and Tiffany McCarty in a three-way deal with Western New York and the Houston Dash. Her value has likely dropped since then, but she still wouldn’t come cheap for Orlando; after all, Leroux is still a regular call-up with the USWNT including this weekend’s Tournament of Nations.
Realistically, Leroux would fall on the spectrum between the Pride’s latest two deals for USWNT stars. The blockbuster trade for Sydney’s friend Alex Morgan back in 2015 saw Orlando give up an international spot and the rights to two stars in Meghan Klingenberg and Lindsey Horan, as well as the top overall draft pick that became Emily Sonnett. On the other hand, Ali Krieger flew south for cents on the dollar in a swap of Distribution Ranking order with the Washington Spirit.
Leroux is definitely not going to cost the Pride the ransom they paid the Portland Thorns for Morgan but it’s also not likely FCKC lets her walk for peanuts. Orlando is skint for draft picks for next year after unloading all of their 2018 selections for Rachel Hill, Chioma Ubogagu, and an international spot. Orlando did receive Houston’s third rounder back for Cami Levin, but the Pride don’t have a lot of draft capital to work with unless the club wants to start mortgaging 2019.
But that doesn’t mean the Pride don’t have the pieces to potentially get a deal done. With the influx of young talent this season, they have a unique combination of players that can get the job done now as well as prospects down the road, all while potentially keeping the majority of their starting lineup intact.
The biggest name among those on the outside looking in is Kristen Edmonds, who has recently been relegated to a substitute role with Tom Sermanni’s change in formation and personnel. Edmonds, who broke out with the Pride last season and earned a USWNT call up, has dropped from midfield to fullback and then to the bench this year. The gaffer’s newfound preference for two defensive midfielders and Camila’s emergence have shuffled Kristen off to the side.
But FCKC is unlikely to take just a quality option in midfield for their striker, even if Leroux isn’t producing so far this season. That’s where the treasure trove of young attacking talent the Pride have built up comes in. Between Chioma Ubogagu, Rachel Hill, Jamia Fields, and Danica Evans, there are some quality options that the Pride could offer up to sweeten the deal for the future of FCKC. Bringing in Leroux would only push some of the younger forwards down the depth chart, so it makes sense for Orlando to clear some room in a swap. It may not seem optimal for the Kansas City side this season, but with 13 points through 15 matches, maybe it’s time to look toward future years.
The Pride could potentially hold onto Edmonds as long as they packaged an enticing offer of future draft picks and young talent. After all, Orlando’s front office has proven they are in a win-now mindset and aren’t afraid to ship off picks for older talent. With a combination of Morgan, Marta, and Leroux, the Pride go from playoff hopefuls to potential contenders. It doesn’t hurt that it could convince Dwyer to sign an extension with the men’s side.
All in all, a deal for Sydney Leroux may not be out of the realm of possibility for the Pride this year. It may be a risk to give up too much for an underperforming forward that has struggled in her comeback year, but there’s certainly potential for her to get back on track with the firepower of Morgan and Marta alongside her. Leroux’s talent may be enough to move the needle and catapult the Pride into the upper echelon of the NWSL.