Back in August, there was chatter that USWNT star Crystal Dunn was going to be on the move from North Carolina Courage to the Portland Thorns FC. The NWSL Fall Series cooled down those talks, but at the conclusion of their run in the competition, Courage head coach Paul Riley said that a trade involving his club, while not naming a player specifically, was imminent. Today, OL Reign had a big hand in facilitating Dunn’s move to Portland.
With a pair of trades, the Tacoma club acquired up to $110,000 in allocation money, an an international slot for the 2021 season, and a 2022 1st round pick. In exchange, goalkeeper Casey Murphy is going to the Courage.
“The decision to trade Casey was extremely difficult given her consistently outstanding performances for the club since she arrived in 2019,” said OL Reign CEO Bill Predmore in a team release. “However, the assets we acquired in the trade will help us realize the ambitious plans that we have outlined for the team in 2021. All funds generated through the trade will be invested in our current players, or in players that we expect will join the club for the 2021 season.”
Here’s a breakdown of the moves.
First, OL Reign sent Murphy and $140,000 in allocation money to the Courage for Crystal Dunn’s rights. According to OL Reign’s press release, the allocation money will be split over two years — $65,000 in 2021 and $75,000 in 2022.
OL Reign then sent Dunn’s rights to the Thorns to acquire Portland’s 2022 natural first-round draft pick, an international slot for the 2021 season, and up to $250,000 in allocation money. The allocation money payment breaks down as $150,000 right now and $50,000 on January 1, 2021, plus a contingent payment of $50,000 on January 1, 2022 should Dunn remain in the NWSL on or after June 1, 2021.
So to recap, OL Reign played the third-team role in facilitating Crystal Dunn’s move to the Portland Thorns from North Carolina Courage, sent goalkeeper Casey Murphy to North Carolina, and at the end of the day now have another 2021 international slot, $110,000 in additional allocation money, and a 2022 1st round draft pick. Now exhale.
“Crystal’s agent was adamant that it was her priority to join her husband at their home in Portland—there was simply no viable alternative for Crystal other than a move to Portland,” said Predmore in the club’s release. “In the absence of Portland and North Carolina being able to agree to a deal directly, we decided to play a role in facilitating what we viewed as an inevitable outcome. Through that process we acquired assets that we are confident will help us significantly strengthen our squad in 2021 and beyond.”
With the expansion draft for Racing Louisville FC right around the corner, it was going to be a conundrum how each club would assess who to protect, particularly for the Reign with two starting-caliber goalkeepers. There is no right or wrong when it comes to who to start in a match between Michelle Betos or Casey Murphy. Both are solid and Murphy sure was a revelation when she joined the club last season after Betos was lost for the year with the torn Achilles injury. Remember, Murphy’s first start for the club came against North Carolina Courage in a 2-1 victory.
Since joining the Reign in 2019 from French club Montpellier, Murphy made 26 appearances and collected 9 clean sheets in all competitions. From the handful of times we chatted with Murphy, either after training or at a post-match press conference, you knew right away she’s a confident goalkeeper. She’ll definitely give the other goalkeepers at North Carolina a run for their money in securing the starting spot, and we appreciate her contributions on the field, the time she gave to talk with us, and wish her all the best with the new chapter at North Carolina.
While we await the next set of moves Bill Predmore and head coach Farid Benstiti have in mind for 2021, let’s revisit some of Casey Murphy’s saves for the Reign.