In the first of what is likely to be multiple moves, the Kansas City Current struck their first trade of 2023. With the NWSL Draft looming on Thursday the 12th of January, KC sent last year’s first round pick, Elyse Bennett to the OL Reign. In addition, they attached their 23rd overall pick (their natural second round pick) in exchange for $150,000 in allocation money.
“Elyse played an important role in our run to the championship last year,” said general manager Camille Levin Ashton. “We want to thank her for her contributions to the club both on and off the pitch and wish her the best going forward.”
Bennett was the seventh overall pick in the 2022 draft and joins a recent history of high KC Current draft picks that were traded for allocation money or players in recent seasons (see Victoria Pickett, Kiki Pickett).
The Reign, predictably are excited to acquire Bennett.
“We’re really excited to have Elyse joining the team,” said OL Reign general manager Nick Perera. “We believe she’s a player that has a unique skillset and after an impressive rookie season, we look forward to watching her develop even further.”
Why did KC make this move?
The KC Current have had a very busy offseason. They signed one of the world’s best players earlier in the week when they brought Debinha in as a free agent from the North Carolina Courage. They also signed free agents Morgan Gautrat and Vanessa DiBernardo from the Chicago Red Stars. Not to be left out is Swedish international forward Mimmi Larsson who joined in recent weeks.
With all those moves, something had to give because there is likely not enough playing time, roster spots and salary space to go around.
The acquisition of allocation money makes a ton of sense for KC though. They have already signed multiple high-profile players and they likely are going to need allocation money to fit them all under the yet to be announced salary cap for 2023.
I don’t imagine this will be the last move of the offseason as the Current still own seven draft picks in Thursday’s draft.
Who won the trade?
My initial gut says that the OL Reign won. They got a strong, fast forward and a second-round pick for just $150,000 in allocation money. By comparison, last season KC received $200,000 and a first-round pick for their 2021 second round pick Victoria Pickett.
It could be KC just fleeced NJ/NY Gotham in the V. Pickett trade, but the Reign got a good player today. Bennett appeared in 21 games (six starts) and scored three goals and added two assists during regular season play. She also played in all three playoff games.
To me, this screamed KC needed to unload players and are overloaded on draft picks, so they had to start making moves. The rest of the offseason is such good business, I’m okay with this move. Better to get some return, then no return at all.
Also, it should be noted that Bennett played at the University of Washington and may have had a desire to go back to a place she put down roots. Never forget NWSL salaries are still a work in progress and having a support system or being ‘local’ can help. Look no further than the KC Current’s trades for AD Franch, CeCe Kizer and Addisyn Merrick in the last year plus. All from KC or close by.
Update 1/12/23: Added quotes from the OL Reign and information about Bennett playing collegiately in Washington.