The Portland Thorns made a big splash today as the team finalized a deal that sent forward Alex Morgan and midfielder Kaylyn Kyle to expansion team Orlando Pride in exchange for the first overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, an international roster spot, and and the first pick in the Expansion Draft.
The trade did not turn out to be quite as lopsided as was initially rumored, with only one international spot changing hand and no mention of the rights to forward Lindsey Horan, who was rumored to be returning to playing the US.
While this is somewhat less akin to the highway robbery that was rumored previously, the draft does significantly reshape the Thorns' roster and what they need to do this offseason.
It was initially rumored that the Thorns would be getting Meghan Klingenberg with the top pick in the Expansion Draft and, while the draft is still some time from now, things are lining up for that to happen as Klingenberg has been traded to the Seattle Reign who will, in theory, protect Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo in the draft, leaving Klingenberg available for the Thorns to select.
Along with the move, the Thorns also released a statement from team owner Merritt Paulson, addressing the fans with regard to the number of moves that the Thorns will make this offseason. In the statement, Paulson says that the Thorns are not going into a rebuilding year and that the team has a plan that might not be immediately apparent but will come together over the course of the offseason. Paulson also thanks the players who are leaving the team, saying that they are excellent players and people.
The Thorns' press release:
THORNS FC ACQUIRE FIRST OVERALL PICK IN 2016 NWSL COLLEGE DRAFT, TOP PICK IN EXPANSION DRAFT, INTERNATIONAL ROSTER SPOT FROM ORLANDO PRIDE IN EXCHANGE FOR FORWARD ALEX MORGAN, MIDFIELDER KAYLYN KYLE
PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC today announced that the club has acquired the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, the first pick in the 2015 Expansion Draft and an international roster spot for the 2016 and 2017 seasons from the Orlando Pride in exchange for forward Alex Morgan and midfielder Kaylyn Kyle. Per league and club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
In three seasons with Thorns FC, Morgan appeared in 36 games (34 starts) during the regular season, registering 15 goals and 11 assists. The U.S. Women’s National Team forward appeared in four games (3 starts) in 2015 as she missed part of the season due to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and a knee injury. Morgan helped guide Portland to the inaugural NWSL Championship in 2013, registering eight goals and five assists in 18 matches (all starts) that season.
"On behalf of the Thorns, I would like to thank Alex for her immense contributions both on and off the field during her three seasons with the club; she is a first-class professional and an amazing role model," said Gavin Wilkinson, general manager of Thorns FC. "By no means did we have plans to trade Alex, but this is a unique situation where we took into account her personal considerations and one that, by virtue of the considerable elements acquired through this trade, will position our club for success in 2016 and beyond."
Kyle, who was acquired by Thorns FC through the National Team Allocation process in January, made her debut for the club as a second-half substitute in a 1-0 win against the Western New York Flash on April 18. The Canadian international appeared in 12 games (6 starts) for Portland during the 2015 season.
"We would like to thank Kaylyn for her contributions to the Thorns," said Wilkinson. "She is a consummate professional that showed a strong sense of commitment, professionalism and dedication during her time in Portland."
The 2015 NWSL Expansion Draft is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 2, at 9 a.m. (Pacific) via conference call.