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OL Reign acquire rights to Rose Lavelle

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Another World Cup champion could be heading to Tacoma.

Nikita Taparia

OL Reign has acquired the NWSL rights for midfielder Rose Lavelle in a trade with the Washington Spirit. As part of the trade, the Reign send their natural 2022 first-round draft pick and $100,000 in allocation money to the Spirit. Additional allocation money is also conditioned upon Lavelle’s future NWSL playing status.

In the OL Reign press release, the club acknowledges that Lavelle is expected to play with a team outside the NWSL in 2020. She’s rumored to be heading to Manchester City to play alongside fellow U.S. women’s national team midfielder Sam Mewis. The Athletic’s Meg Linehan reports that this one-year contract with City is official and should be announced this week. UPDATE: Manchester City announced the deal on Tuesday, Aug. 18.

Because of the news of Lavelle’s journey outside the U.S., OL Reign will only control her future playing rights in the NWSL. Don’t expect her to suit up for the Reign this year, even as rumors are percolating about some NWSL games in September and October — despite a number of player loans to teams in Europe.

The Reign are taking a bit of a gamble on this trade, as it sounds like Manchester City could extend Lavelle’s contract next summer if both sides desire. Still, it’s the kind of gamble that could pay big dividends for the Reign.

Lavelle won the Bronze Ball at last year’s World Cup, scoring in the final against Netherlands and finishing with three goals in the tournament. While Megan Rapinoe might have walked away with the Golden Ball award, one could argue that Lavelle had the biggest impact for the U.S. over the course of the tournament. Don’t take my word for it: listen to Jess Fishlock, M.B.E.

Lavelle is a master on the ball, with quick feet that can stick to the ball in tight spaces. She has an uncanny ability to break lines in the midfield and provides the creativity that the Reign were clearly lacking in the NWSL Challenge Cup.

“Rose is an incredible talent that we believe has all the attributes to be the best player in the world. While we would have loved to have Rose join our club today, she fits perfectly into our long-term vision for the squad,” said OL Reign CEO Bill Predmore. “It was the vision of Jean-Michel [Aulas] and the support of OL that made this deal this possible for our club. We are willing to make the necessary short-term sacrifices, exercise the needed patience, and do whatever work is required to realize our goal of bringing Rose to OL Reign in the future.”

Lavelle was also named to the 2019 FIFA FIFPro Women’s World11 thanks to her breakout performance in France. She was the top pick of the 2017 NWSL Draft by the Boston Breakers, playing for that club for a year before joining the Spirit when the Breakers folded. She’s made an impact when on the field with Washington and the U.S., but has spent the last two years struggling with hamstring injuries.

“We all know that Rose is a special player, so for me this is a chance we had to take,” said OL Reign head coach Farid Benstiti. “I very much hope that we will have the chance to work with Rose in the future, and I am excited about supporting her as she works to achieve her destiny as one of the best players in the world.”

This wouldn’t be Lavelle’s first team in Washington state. She played for the Sounders Women while in college — suiting up for the 2015 Sounders Women team that posted a 10-1-1 record. Lavelle finished third in the league in assists and was named to the All-Conference and All-League Teams that year.