Updated: Jan 18, 2020
While this is nowhere near the busiest NWSL off-season, it has seen some top quality players swap teams. So far this week, Kealia Ohai, Emily Sonnett, Midge Purce, Rocky Rodriguez, Katie Naughton and Katie Stengel were given new homes, shocking fans from every corner of the women’s soccer world. Ohai being traded from Houston to Chicago had been the most shocking so far. Until I received an alert on my phone informing me that McCall Zerboni had been traded to Sky Blue in return for the rights to Hailie Mace.
McCall Zerboni is a dynamic player, there’s no doubt about it. She is aggressive, doesn’t mind making the hard tackles and getting what needs to be done, done. Her work ethic is amazing and after years of hard work in the NWSL, she finally received her first call up and her first cap with the USWNT. She has suffered some setbacks as well. She fractured her elbow in a USWNT friendly against Chile in 2018, effectively ending her year. Still, she is a force to be reckoned with and adored by both fans and players alike in North Carolina.
Which was why it came as a surprise - to me at least - to see Paul Riley send her packing for the rights to someone who isn’t even playing in the NWSL. While I wouldn’t say that she was the face of the franchise, she had been a key part of the team.
Riley was quoted as saying “Hailie will be a revelation in Courage Country. She has a ton of ability and tools. She will love the culture and training environment. I sincerely believe she has the raw talent to be a regular on the USWNT.” As of right now Mace is still overseas, but it certainly sounds as if Riley is sure she will be joining the team.
Now let’s talk about Sky Blue.
Whoever is running the trade board (and I really hope it is Alyse LaHue) is a true mastermind. Somehow in the last year or so they have managed to put together a team with Midge Purce, Carli Lloyd, McCall Zerboni, Imani Dorsey, Naho Kawasumi, Elizabeth Eddy, Gina Lewandowski and Jen Hoy.
Having Lloyd and Zerboni back together in the midfield could be a revelation. Just having Eddy, Lloyd and Zerboni in the midfield already makes Sky Blue more interesting to watch this upcoming season. They look to have a definite plan for the future and seem to know exactly who they want to shake things up. I applaud them for going for it this off-season and getting the players they want.
There's still a lot of time between now and the start of the regular season for even crazier trades. But, for now, this has to lead the pack as the most shocking trade of this off-season.