Two United States women's national team stars have swapped places in NWSL, with both making moves closer to home. Star forward Sydney Leroux, a native of British Columbia, is heading to the Seattle Reign from the Boston Breakers. Massachusetts native Kristie Mewis will go in the other direction, along with goalkeeper Michelle Betos and two picks -- a first and second rounder -- in the 2015 NWSL college draft.
Leroux had an excellent first season in Boston, scoring 11 times to finish tied for second in goals in NWSL, but she lacked support around her as her team missed the playoffs. Seattle didn't fare any better in NWSL's inaugural season, but improved significantly when Megan Rapinoe joined the team after a stint in Europe and Hope Solo returned from injury.
Breakers GM Lee Billiard noted that a desire for both players to get closer to home was a major factor in the trade.
"I have been trying to get Kristie in a Breakers jersey since January. It has taken the better part of a year, but we have finally been able to bring Kristie back home ... After speaking with Sydney, it was clear she needed to be closer to home. It was tough for me to do, but I'm confident we got the best we could out of the trade."
Boston's end of the trade is the more interesting one even though they got the lower profile player, simply because it's tough to see where they're headed. They now have arguably the two best wide players in the league in Mewis and Heather O'Reilly to go along with a decent defense, midfield and set of goalkeepers, but they're seriously lacking for firepower up top. They might enter the season without any more experienced forwards, but they could have their eyes on signing one of the top Americans playing abroad when the European season ends. PSG's Lindsey Horan, Tyreso's Christen Press and Bayern Munich's Sarah Hagan are among the American forwards playing in Europe that could have NWSL suitors come spring.
There's also the matter of their large goalkeeping stable. None of Alyssa Naeher, Cecilia Santiago or Betos is a star, but all are more than capable of being a respectable starter or excellent backup. They could act as excellent trade chips.
Seattle is looking like a much stronger squad heading into 2014 than they did last season with Leroux joining Solo, Rapinoe and Stephanie Cox in hopefully being available from the start of their campaign. They still lack depth, but there's plenty of offseason -- plus a college draft -- left for them to sort that out.
It's also worth noting that the offseason is young in NWSL. The aforementioned college draft hasn't taken place yet, there's no word yet on whether or not most European-based players will spend their summer in the United States and some other trades that are just as much about personal needs as they are soccer could still happen.