The setting might have been the 2018 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft, but it was a multi-team blockbuster trade that sent the 2017 NWSL Most Valuable Player, two World Cup Champions and a Canada federation player to new clubs that set the women’s soccer world afire.
Midway through the draft’s opening round, Sky Blue FC was involved in a three-team trade that sent Sam Kerr and Nikki Stanton to Chicago, Christen Press to Houston, and Carli Lloyd, Janine Beckie and Jen Hoy to New Jersey.
The NWSL has yet to officially announce the trade, partly to prevent from distracting too heavily from the draft itself, but also partly because Kerr and Stanton are currently on loan with clubs in Australia’s W-League. Since the trade occurred while it was still nighttime in Australia, club representatives wanted to ensure those players were notified of the trades before formally announcing it.
Fans will no doubt lament the loss of Kerr, the 2017 NWSL MVP and Golden Boot winner, who almost single-handedly kept Sky Blue’s season alive last year. The Australian forward broke numerous records in the process, including the league’s single-season goals record (17) and career goals record (43).
She also became the first player to score multiple hat tricks in a single season and the first to score four goals in a single match. Although it was her scoring prowess and high-flying goal celebrations that gained her notoriety around the league, it was her laidback, selfless attitude that endeared her to fans.
Also departing New Jersey is Stanton, who has been a member of Sky Blue’s squad since June 2014 when she was signed to a professional contract following a stint as an amateur call-up from its reserve team.
In her four years in New Jersey, the midfielder tallied one assist in 20 starts and 41 total appearances for the club. She saw the most action for Sky Blue in 2017, when a rash of injuries saw her become a staple in the starting lineup while splitting duties between the team’s midfield and backline.
Lloyd, 35, comes to New Jersey from Houston, where she had a tumultuous three-year stint with the Dash. There she made 27 appearances for the club, missing a number of matches because of injury and while away with the U.S. women’s national team (USWNT). Still, she managed to score 11 goals and register three assists for the club.
The New Jersey native is best known as the two-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year (2015, 2016) who notoriously scored a hat trick in the 2015 FIFA World Cup Final to help secure the USWNT’s historic third World Cup win. The world-renowned midfielder is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist, scoring the gold medal-winning goals for the U.S. in both 2008 and 2012.
She was previously rostered with Sky Blue in 2010 during its Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) days.
Joining Lloyd on the trip from Houston to New Jersey is Beckie, 23, a Canada federation player who was a member of their 2016 Olympic bronze medal-winning squad. She currently holds the record for fastest goal scored in Olympic history after scoring just 20 seconds into Canada’s group stage opener that same year.
The midfielder was taken by the Dash as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2016 draft and has made 32 starts in 38 appearances since for the club. Although Beckie has never performed at the same level for club as for country, she comes to Sky Blue with five goals and three assists in her professional career.
Sky Blue also acquired a third player from the Chicago Red Stars in the trade. Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer has now reported that multiple sources around the league have confirmed to him that player is Hoy.
Hoy, 27, was drafted by the Chicago Red Stars in the fourth round of the 2013 NWSL draft and has, up until Thursday’s draft, been with them ever since. Over her five seasons in Chi Town, Hoy made 51 starts in 76 appearances, scoring 15 goals and 10 assists in her NWSL career.
Although not one of the flashier players in the NWSL, Hoy has earned the reputation of being a solid, reliable forward who is just as threatening off the bench as she is in the starting XI. She has helped the Red Stars reach the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, most recently in 2017.
Sky Blue also received two draft picks in the trade, the No. 6 overall pick, which they used to select West Virginia University (WVU) defender Amandine Pierre-Louis, and the No. 13 overall pick, used to select Rutgers goalkeeper Casey Murphy. They also drafted WVU forward Michaela Abam at No. 4, Duke forward Imani Dorsey at No. 5 and UC-Irvine midfielder Kiana Palacios at No. 35.
[Editor’s note: The article has been updated from its original version to state that Jen Hoy was the third player acquired by Sky Blue in the trade.]