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OL Reign acquire Ally Watt in trade with North Carolina

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The Reign send Taylor Smith and the rights to Jodie Taylor in exchange for the forward.

W-League Rd 13 - Western Sydney v Melbourne City Photo by David Neilson/Getty Images

OL Reign has acquired forward Ally Watt in a trade with the North Carolina Courage, the club announced today. In exchange, North Carolina received defender Taylor Smith and the rights to forward Jodie Taylor.

Watt was selected by North Carolina with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NWSL College Draft. She immediately went to Australia to join the W-League squad Melbourne City on loan. Playing alongside OL Reign’s Lauren Barnes, Watt scored three goals in five appearances — helping Melbourne City win the W-League shield and Championship.

“I’m so excited to join the OL Reign family,” Watt said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for me to grow under a new coach and surrounded by new teammates. The program has a history of success that I look forward to being a part of and contributing to. I can’t wait to get to work.”

The Texas A&M graduate had her 2020 NWSL season cut short. She played 13 minutes in the first match of the NWSL Challenge Cup before suffering an ACL tear. Watt had surgery in July and is currently rehabilitating.

At Texas A&M, Watt scored 49 times in 90 matches, with 40% of those goals serving as game-winners. She’s a speedy forward who won state titles in the 100 and 200 meter races in high school, along with anchoring a record-setting 4x200 relay team. But pace isn’t the only thing she brings. Watt isn’t afraid to put her body on the line to win a ball in the box, is great at pressuring defenders into mistakes, and knows how to time her runs to get behind defenses.

Here is what NC Courage assistant coach Sean Nahas had to say about Watt after the Courage drafted her: “Ally’s got one thought and that’s to get behind backlines and score goals. She’s dynamic. Her separation in the final third is second to none from what I’ve seen.”

After her 2015 freshman season at Texas A&M, Watt took a redshirt year in 2016 in order to represent the U.S. National Team at the 2016 FIFA U-20 World Cup. U.S. Women’s National Team coach Vlatko Andonovski called Watt into a discovery camp last December along with Bethany Balcer.

Taylor Smith departs after two years at OL Reign, with her first year focused on recovering from a torn ACL. In 2020, Smith made seven appearances for OL Reign between the Challenge Cup and the Fall Series, playing a total of 406 minutes. She thrived under Courage coach Paul Riley as a right back and will certainly be looking to get back to that form in 2021.

Jodie Taylor spent three years with OL Reign before transferring to Olympique Lyonnais this fall. Taylor scored 14 goals and added four assists in 40 league appearances.

“We are appreciative of Taylor’s hard work to return from injury and her commitment through a very difficult 2019 and 2020,” said OL Reign CEO Bill Predmore. “I also want to thank Jodie for all she gave to the club over the last three seasons. She is a true professional who dedicated herself to being the best footballer she could become. She earned a place amongst our club’s greatest players, so we wish her well will always be appreciative of her efforts on behalf of the club.”