(Note: This column is meant as a counterpoint to Richard Farley’s piece examining the Seattle-Chicago trade. It’s not totally necessary to get the gist of my thoughts, but it’s still a good read nonetheless.)
Seattle’s trade with Chicago, sending a first round pick in next year’s NWSL Draft and one of their American allocations at the end of this season (almost assuredly Amy Rodriguez) to the Red Stars for Keelin Winters and a perfunctory fourth round draft pick, was both eye-raising and polarizing. There was the view from some that Seattle had gotten the much better side of the deal by adding Winters to their midfield while not having to give up anything immediately. And then there’s my view, namely that the Reign have opted for a questionable short-term gain that’s almost assuredly going to be outstripped by long-term pain come the end of this year.
It’s hard to argue against Seattle having needed to make a few proactive moves in the final weeks leading up to the preseason if they wanted to try and reverse some of the negative momentum that had been building up against them in recent weeks and months. There was the news that Amy Rodriguez, who had looked to have been the club’s lynchpin in attack, was pregnant and would miss the entire 2013 season. There was the news that midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Teresa Noyola would be fulfilling European club commitments through the early months of the season (Noyola has since managed to free herself to return by the preseason). There was the revelation that Hope Solo could miss the early weeks of the season with a wrist injury. And top supplemental draft pick Nikki Krzysik has waffled on her playing status ever since she was taken by Seattle.
Some of the above also alludes to the fact that the Reign had some gaping holes to be filled before Friday’s trade. The club is woefully inexperienced in the attack, with a score of first and second year strikers hoping to rise to the occasion. If the likes of Tiffany Cameron and Lindsay Taylor can’t prove as prolific as they were at college level, the club might have to depend on journeymen like Liz Bogus and Lyndsey Patterson or likely midfielders Rapinoe and Jess Fishlock for goals. That would be enough for most to hit the panic button, but the defense could still be a greater concern. The fact that Krzysik hasn’t committed one way or the other with the clock ticking towards camps opening should be enough to set alarm bells ringing. If the Virginia alum plays, she might be able to anchor the defense to the point that it’s passable. If not? You might want to throw gasoline on the mess, because it could get ugly. Elli Reed’s probably one of the league’s better left-backs, almost by default, but she’s still very green and probably not in a position to lead a backline yet. The likely center-back pairing of Kate Deines and Emily Zurrer has a ton of size, but I like Deines better as a midfielder, while Zurrer isn’t going to be a contender’s top option at center-back. Right-back? You might as well throw names into a hat at this point. Lauren Barnes and Elli Reed out of position, Liz Bogus, Jess Fishlock, Jenny Ruiz, or someone else could all be thrown into that spot, with it looking like a serious liability at this point.
Given that giant paragraph above, I expected Seattle to have addressed some of the areas of weakness mentioned when news of a trade first broke. The Reign do possess some intriguing assets, such as Krzysik, if she’s angling for a move closer to home, either Nairn or Noyola, if you believe two playmakers is one too many, or even Rapinoe, who could have probably fetched a king’s ransom from a club hungry for a star. Instead, Seattle mortgaged the future in a very plain way while not addressing any of their most glaring needs.