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Seattle Reign trade Merritt Mathias to North Carolina Courage

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Photo credit - MikeRussellFoto

The Seattle Reign FC remain busy in the trading market, as the club announced on Wednesday that they have traded defender/forward Merritt Mathias and a natural 2019 second round draft pick to North Carolina in exchange for the Courage’s natural first round pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft.

Mathias came to Seattle in 2015 from FC Kansas City in exchange for defender Kate Deines and two 2015 draft picks. Coveted by Laura Harvey, Mathias started in 19 of Seattle’s 20 regular season games in 2015 and her three-year tenure in Seattle saw her become a versatile option, splitting time at right back and forward. It was such versatility and never-ending energy that Harvey praised in calling Mathias her definition of what a number 9 is.

“The nine for me, has never been someone I look at and go ‘goal-scorer.’ They have to be good defensively,” said Harvey after a match last summer.

For Mathias, whatever the role was, she just wanted to play and contribute however she could. She slotted into the 2015 Reign FC roster seamlessly and the team was able to return to the NWSL Championship, though they once again came up short to FC Kansas City.

“Over the last three seasons Merritt did everything that Laura asked of her — the hard and often thankless work that made the players around her better and the team more successful,” said Reign FC owner Bill Predmore in a team release. “She is a fantastic person and player who will be missed.”

Mathias’ tenacity and physical play was also a detriment at times, with infamous incidents involving Shea Groom at FC Kansas City in 2016 and Emily Sonnett at Portland Thorns in 2017.

Going to North Carolina Courage means Mathias could conceivably compete for the starting right back spot as they are without Taylor Smith, who they sent to the Washington Spirit along with forward and 2017 NWSL Rookie of the Year Ashley Hatch for the rights to U.S. international Crystal Dunn. She also fits with Courage coach Paul Riley’s high-pressure style of play. North Carolina also means closer proximity to her Alabama roots, friends and family, which for a lot of athletes, no matter the sport, means something.

Mathias’ three-year tenure with Seattle Reign FC comes to an end with 54 appearances, 5 goals, and 4,361 minutes of play. As more players move around the league this off-season, it comes as no surprise that Seattle is doing their fair share of movement as the club prepares for what might be its most important season yet.