There was a possibility that by leaving Christen Press unprotected by Utah Royals FC, that Racing Louisville FC would draft her rights in the 2020 NWSL Expansion Draft. Sure enough, though risky, the new NWSL club selected her rights on Thursday evening with the 14th pick. Tobin Heath was also selected as the 13th pick.
Press, upon her return to the NWSL after her loan is over with Manchester United, would join the new NWSL club in 2021. It may be a while before Louisville sees Press, if at all, especially if her focus upon her return is with the US National Team preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.
The bad news for Utah, they lost a world-class striker that has produced the goals URFC needed in 2018 and 2019 (10 goals overall, 4 assists.). The good news for the Royals, they received $75,000 in allocation money that hopefully help them attract another world-class player in 2021. Since Press was an allocated player, upon her selection, Utah’s roster remained protected in the draft.
Utah acquired the rights to Press in June 2018 in a trade that sent Brooke Elby and six draft picks to the Chicago Red Stars. With the 2020 season disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Press elected not to participate in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup and instead signed with Manchester United on a loan until May 2021.
The club released this statement after her selection:
“We are appreciative of the contributions made by Press and wish her luck in this next chapter,” General Manager Stephanie Lee said. “The decision to leave Press unprotected allowed us to focus on players we were certain would and could show up to contribute in the 2021 season, and provides us some flexibility with Allocation Money during our current transition.”