The Christen Press saga continues to unfold since it was reported last Friday that the USWNT star would not report to the Houston Dash for preseason.
In January, at the 2018 NWSL College Draft, a blockbuster three-team trade between the Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, and Sky Blue FC was the main headline at the event. The trade involved the rights to three prominent international stars including Carli Lloyd, Sam Kerr, and Press. Lloyd went to New Jersey, Kerr to Chicago, and Press to Houston. Though Lloyd and Kerr went happily to their new clubs, Press was left caught off guard and never acknowledged the trade in the two months since.
When the time finally came to report to preseason after her time with the U.S. National Team, the NWSL league office informed the Houston Dash that Press would not be joining the club after all, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Thus ensued a whirlwind of speculations and reports, one of those mentioning that Utah Royals FC at one point were in the mix for a trade, but the Royals were not initially on Press’ list. The USWNT star would later inform the Red Stars that she was willing to go to Utah. By then, the pieces Chicago would have received in return had been moved to other teams. The deal never happened.
Though U.S. players cannot formally reject a trade or directly contact a club, they have had their say-so in where they want to play. Their contracts are subsidized by U.S Soccer, so they do not sign contracts with NWSL teams.
U.S. internationals were invited to list their preferences if they wanted to be traded within the NWSL, according to multiple knowledgeable sources. Many players got exactly what they wanted this offseason (Lloyd to Sky Blue, Kelley O’Hara to Utah, Allie Long to Seattle Reign FC, Sydney Leroux to Orlando Pride, Crystal Dunn to North Carolina Courage).
In that same report, Press’ preferred destinations were Seattle, Portland and “later Utah.”
Today, SI’s Grant Wahl reported:
“It’s still possible that an NWSL trade for Press could take place between Houston and Utah, but Houston wants a national team player in return and is unlikely to get that.”
It doesn’t seem like the Royals are ready to let go of any of the national team players they have already built their club around. NWSL teams are not willing at this point either. So we await news on where Press plays in 2018.
Thoughts Utah Royals FC fans? Should the Royals trade a national team player to the Dash so Press can remain in the NWSL? Otherwise, Press’ likely destination in the meantime is Sweden, and/or the Dash will continue to hold on to Press’ rights until a trade is fair for them.