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The Tea(L): Let’s talk the KC/NCC trade

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Making sense of the recent trade that sent Amy Rodriguez to North Carolina.

Photo: NWSL / ISI Photos

Last Thursday, Kansas City NWSL traded forward Amy Rodriguez and $60,000 in allocation money to the North Carolina Courage in exchange for forward Kristen Hamilton, goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland and midfielder Hailie Mace.

It was a bold trade for KC, trading one of its most prominent players and team captain. Rodriguez, since her days with FC Kansas City, has become a mainstay in KC. Ask any KC fan, Rodriguez brings admiration and respect. Rodriguez scored all 3 goals in the two finals that helped the club win back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015. She returned to Kansas City after a few years in Utah after KC was awarded an NWSL franchise once again upon Utah ceasing operations. For all we knew, A-Rod could have finished her career in Kansas City.

But then North Carolina called to ask about Amy Rodriguez joining the Courage. KC, of course, had no intention of trading their most-experienced player, but they listened to the offer. As Kansas City has struggled in 2021, this was an opportunity to strengthen the team. Head coach Huw Williams talked to Rodriguez about the trade, someone he has known since the FCKC days.

“I have a huge amount of respect and gratitude for Amy, not just for what she has accomplished on the pitch and for what she means to Kansas City soccer, but for her professionalism and leadership,” said Williams. “These are difficult decisions that almost always come down to timing and circumstances, and in this case, that means giving up a great player to build our team. We wish Amy the best moving forward.”

And just like that, on the day before KC hosted North Carolina, Rodriguez would suit up in a Courage uniform, and Rowland, Mace, and Hamilton were on a plane to join Kansas City. The trade was signifiant for Kansas City, gaining three players who will contribute plenty, and North Carolina will now have another attacking player.

But the timing of the trade seemed odd. There was a game the following evening, a game that involved both teams facing one another, putting players against their former club. The timing of the trade did not allow for players to process the trade or settle down in their new cities/clubs. Yes, these players are professional athletes, so some would argue, but the trade was executed poorly.

“Credit to those players,” KC NWSL head coach Huw Williams stated at the end of the 0-0 draw. “They joined us yesterday (the day before the match) for their first practice, which meant they had to jump in a plane at the airport at 5 AM. They get to Kansas city early morning then went to the hotel for maybe 15 minutes and then they were on the practice field. We had to make a decision based on what’s right for those players. We needed them to feel comfortable with the situation and comfortable to play against their old team so they were very much a part of that conversation. Then our whole coaching staff made the decision to play the players based on their response and based on the players that were available to us today. As you can see from the injury report, we had quite a few players out for us.”

KC did their best to accommodate their new players, but the league, must do better and should not have allowed this trade to happen as it did. Much of the critcism surrounding this trade is also due to the fact that NWSL players don’t get paid enough. The league’s minimum salary is $22,000 per year. 75% of players make $31,000 or less. Basically, what this trade taught us is that the NWSL still has a ways to go in terms of compensation and treatment of its players. With its tenth year approaching, it’s time to the league to focus more on its players.

The National Women’s Soccer League Players Association is taking signatures to help their cause, to earn more so that playing in the NWSL is a sustainable career. Sign here: http://nomoresidehustles.com