Thorns send Williamson, Wetzel, pick to Flash for Huffman, player to be named

Jeff Kassouf April 5, 2014 82
Portland Thorns, Kat Williamson

Kat Williamson, right, has been traded from Portland to Western New York. (Photo copyright Meg Linehan for The Equalizer)

One of the best rookies of the 2013 NWSL season is on the move in a blockbuster trade that could be even bigger once the dust falls on the details.

Portland Thorns FC sent Kat Williamson to Western New York along with midfielder Courtney Wetzel and a 1st round pick in the 2015 draft in exchange for defender Sarah Huffman and a player to be named later.

Thorns coach Paul Riley told The Equalizer last week that he had an international signing to announce, and the courtship of Vero Boquete has been a public one since Riley took the Thorns job in early December. Boquete, a Spanish international who plays for Tyresö, won the 2011 WPS MVP award under Riley in Philadelphia.

There’s no word on when the unnamed player will be revealed.

Williamson will fill a hole for the Flash left by the absence of center back Estelle Johnson, who is not expected to report to the team this season. Williamson started every game for the championship-winning Thorns in 2013 and was ironically sent off in the final against the Flash in the final on what is now her home field.

Huffman was previously not expected to report to the Flash, having decided to stay in Portland to live in her new home that she bought with Abby Wambach, who plays for Western New York.

“We’ve brought in two players that will make our team stronger and add to the depth of our club,” Flash coach Aaran Lines said. “We needed a central defender and Kat proved last year she can excel in that role. Courtney is a player whose versatility is going to be massive for our squad.”

Wetzel and Williamson were already with the Flash by Saturday and dressed for preseason matches against Syracuse and Colgate:

  • FawcettFan14

    Wait does this mean Huffman will suit up for Portland? So…she could end up playing against Abby? I realize they are professional athletes and can deal with it, but still an interesting scenario.

    I’m glad Williamson landed somewhere after falling out of favor with Paul Riley. She definitely fits a Flash need with Johnson gone. Hopefully she has mended fences with Abby, whose theatrics got her ejected in the final.

    • kicotten1

      like it matters if she mends fences with abby because she’ll be gone in 2015

    • wosofan

      Mend fences? They vacationed together in Mexico this past winter, along with Dougherty, etc.

    • Lorehead

      Mia Hundvin of Norway and Camilla Andersen of Denmark married each other, then played against each other in team handball at the Sydney Olympics. I’m not aware of that happening in soccer before.

      The fact that Riley was willing to trade Williamson for the player he really wanted doesn’t necessarily mean she fell out of favor.

    • Jess

      Megan Rapinoe played against Sarah Walsh on multiple occasions when the USWNT faced Australia. Didn’t seem to have any effect on them so hopefully it’ll be the same for these two.

  • MT

    The million dollar question: Is Huffman even going to play? She didn’t show up to WNY camp and made it clear that she was moving on to the next phase of her life so one has to question her integrity.

    • Guest

      Tina pulled the same thing. Same with Marshall when she was talking retirement when waived and picked up by the Spirit and then Reign. It’s code for “I don’t want to play for you” rather than actual retirement. This will be the third time Portland got that kind of perk from players.

      • anon

        It still comes across as shady and totally unprofessional.

      • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

        It will be interesting to see how it plays out. It seems odd that you go and marry someone and than go and move to a different city and different team when you could stay in the same city and play on the same team.

        I get wanting to live in the home you bought in the city you picked to live in, but I don’t get marrying someone and moving away from them.

        It seems like her priorities are screwed up, and I don’t mean from a sports perspective, but a downright life perspective.

        That said it doesn’t seem like WNY feels screwed, and apparently Portland doesn’t either. Although I don’t understand why this wasn’t a straight swap – Williamson for Huffman. Instead Portland is giving us another player AND a first round draft pick? Huffman is probably barely worth a 1st round draft pick without anything extra.

        So… Portland may not feel like they got screwed, but that’s exactly what happened. Strictly from a trade balance anyways.

        • Rufan

          Don’t worry, Abby will be back home to Sarah in Portland after the season is over.
          (unless I am completely confused that you have not read anything about the couple living in Portland, and Sarah wanting to finish the house instead for the big (not) salary that she would get for playing. Plus that Abby would probably also rather be in Portland instead but that Sinclair and Morgan are already there.

        • Lorehead

          If Huffman—and Wambach—have their priorities screwed up, then so does everyone else who relocates away from his or her family for a few months. (And in all the speculation about how Alex Morgan would move to Houston to be near her boyfriend, who was not yet even her fiancé, do you recall a single person saying that Servando Carrasco has the wrong priorities in life if he’d move away from her? Or condemn a male athlete whose wife and kids don’t sell their house and move in the middle of a school year when he gets traded? Is that typically even considered worth mentioning when it happens?) The season is only a few months long and they’ll have chances to see each other during it. Also, if you’re going to criticize either wife for where she plays, it would make more sense to criticize Wambach. Rochester is Abby’s hometown, not Sarah’s.

          But as for the trade dynamics, I think what you’re seeing is Western New York driving a hard bargain when they had the discovery rights to their former player, probably before Paul Riley took the job and asked for her, and the deadline to name the final rosters was approaching, so it was agree to their terms or nothing. We wanted the deal more than they did. Besides, we would have had to waive a few players anyway to get to twenty and get nothing for them. And maybe Niemiec impressed Riley in the preseason.

          • clioamare007

            I agree with your post. Just one thing to note: Morgan is engaged with Carrasco.

          • Lorehead

            Yes, they are. I meant that they were not at the time.

          • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

            -_-

        • kernel_thai

          The trade is Vero for Williamson and a first round pick. Huffman for Wetzel is mostly accommodating Huffman I guess who gets to live home and still play.

      • Rufan

        I think the Marshall issue was that Portland and likely the other teams wanted her to redo her contract at a lower salary than originally agreed for ’14. She initially refused and was waived by Portland. She finally did when she got (or in order to get) back to Portland.

    • newsouth

      they just purchased a house and are redoing it, so it would make since if one of them stayed in portland year around. i could see huffman doing a home game deal like casey loyd did with fckc last season

  • FawcettFan14

    Portland’s midfield, a weakness last season, is getting crowded. Brooks, Long, Heath, Farrelly, Kerr, Shim, now Huffman, and Boquete (assuming it’s her) will all be wanting playing time.

    • guest

      Now it’s their defense that’s looking like the weak link. They’re pretty shorthanded back there at the moment, especially when players get called in for international duty. Looks like they might be playing the “hope you score more than you concede” tactic this season.

      • Steglitz49

        With Angerer in goal and Moros and Brooks on the defensive end, Portland are not too badly off.

        As for “scoring more than you concede”, many would argue that this was the motto of the 1970 Dream Team.

      • kernel_thai

        Huffman played outside back last year and Menges should help at CB after graduation.

  • FawcettFan14

    My guess is if Huffman plays, that’s a bonus to Riley. His main goal by shipping Williamson and Wetzel elsewhere was to clear salary cap space to sign this high-profile mystery player.

    • Rdalford

      Agree that Riley has appeared to be determined to sign mystery player/Boquete from the start and Williamson and Wetzel ended up being price paid to clear cap and roster space and get a deal with WNY. Think that Huffman, if she plays or not, was not critical to Riley making this deal.

      Time and performance on the field will eventually determine if it is a good deal. It has potential to help both teams (although I am not pleased to see Williamson leave Portland).

      • Guest

        Portland have lost a lot of good players over the off season. More than any other team. They’ve gotten back good players too but also expensive players who might not be the type to stick around long like the ones they’ve been letting go. It is an interesting turn over going on.

        • Davis

          Overall I think the current Thorns roster is a significant improvement over their 2013 roster. Yes, it’s a shame to see players like Marian Dougherty and Williamson go and it leaves a bit of a question mark at defense, but players like Foxhoven and Wetzel were bench players and contributed sporadically at best. The addition Farrelly, Brooks, and (hopefully) Boquete should bring a huge and much needed improvement to the midfield. Plus they brought in Moros to help on the defensive side, and they just signed this Niemiec kid that Riley seems to really like.

        • wosofan

          It’s all about the owner being unhappy with the team’s performance last year, as he should have been. So he got rid of the coach, and the new coach has new ideas about how to build a team, and he’s not wasting time.

          I actually think this is good. Seattle had a big makeover also, and the Spirit, too, to a lesser degree.

          • john

            Looks like the Spirit will have 9-10 players held over from 2013. Injuries may affect who is on opening roster. For Washington it will not only be the roster turnover, but changes in the roles of many players. For instance, Cuellar has been playing wide and assuming more defensive responsibilities. Clearly an improved team, but theoretically it is a much stronger league this season. Has DC done enough?

        • Lorehead

          We don’t know the terms of their contracts, though. (Just hints here and there: Angerer signed for “a financially responsible” sum; from the way Paulson hedges his bets about Heath’s future, her contract must be up for renegotiation next year; several players had their contracts dropped this season and then ended up signing new ones for less money.)

          But on opening day, there will at most, by my count, be five players left from the twenty who won the championship: Kerr, Long, Sinclair, Van Hollebeke, and Shim, whom the team had to trade to get back. Heath and Morgan will, I hope, come back later to make it seven.

          • Elaine

            You forgot Marshall.

            Yes, it’s sad to see those from last season not back with the Thorns. At the same time, there’s excitement in seeing new faces such as Moros, Brooks, Catley, Farrelly, Angerer, Acevedo, and Vero. That’s a quality group of players there. And of course, the top boss to shepherd them….Riley.

          • Lorehead

            Good catch. Sorry to leave you out, Nikki Marshall! And yes, Seattle and Chicago are going to be much better teams this year, and we needed to keep up.

          • Steglitz49

            I suspect that Tobin quite likes Paris. Like Yuki, Tobin may be game to try another capital.

            With her new trademark of hitting thunderous free-kicks, Tobin is a shoe-in for the NT and many a team would hire Tobin’s services. In short, she may not have the exhaled status of Alex and Abby, but Tobin is living her dream as a free spirit, pursuing happiness and, probably, love.

      • Steglitz49

        Though it makes sense that the mystery is Vero and she will be cheap to boot, I still wonder whether we will get a surprise? In short, if not Vero, who could it be? Is there someone so obvious we overlook her?

  • TN

    Well well, this is another interesting development. Shocking actually, since Williamson was the better of the center pairing in the back, so now who does Riley use? Or is he intending on a 3 defenders situation, where it would seem Williamson is just surplus. But even then, Van Hollebeke will be on international duty, then who takes over? Bad choice I think, unless Riley is bringing in a world class centerback.

    Does anyone know why Estelle Johnson not returning? Her choice to move on or something else? And interesting Huffman may suit up against Abby, I don’t know if she will choose to play though.

    • newsouth

      Estelle has a coaching job in Kansas. I’m surprised FCKC isn’t trying to cut a deal for her rights.

      • Rdalford

        WNY may just be asking more for Estelle than FCKC is willing to give up.

        • kernel_thai

          Kinda hard to belive the 1st round pick and INT slot they gave up for LePeilbet wouldnt have been enough to get Johnson

  • dt

    Portland clearly doesn’t like draft picks.

    • Steglitz49

      They picked Amber Brooks.

  • Forgedias

    Why would they trade such a promising player like Kat Williamson? She was stellar last year. Wonder if this has to do with Huffman not wanting to play for Western New York. But that shouldn’t force Portland to trade a promising player like Williamson who is young and set for the future for the Thorns. I think this is a bad trade.

    • Ben

      This trade has nothing to do with Huffman and all to do with the unnamed player. Huffman may have even decided to retire and probably Portland asked for her rights as they need people.

      • newsouth

        riley likes veteran teams and to win NOW. also, allocation shuffle happens next year, so portland won’t have both sinclair and morgan. one is gone for sure.

        • You serious bro

          Sinclair is NOT leaving Portland. That is not happening. I’ll be very surprised if the Thorns somehow lose out on Alex as well.

          • Lorehead

            Canada is now saying that its players, including Sinclair, will be in training camp for the NWSL season, but if she wants to play for the Thorns, she will get her way.

            If either were going to move in the reallocation shuffle, it would have happened this year.

        • Steglitz49

          Indeed. Also the 2015 and 2016 NWSL seasons will be strange because time off not only for the WC and OG but to prepare for them. In Europe the leagues that play summer seasons take a break. The NWSL will probably play without their NT players. Thus, having veterans on your books who are not wanted for NT duty is not so dumb.

      • kernel_thai

        Vero for Williamson and #1 pick is a fair trade

    • Elaine

      Maybe Lines asked for her? She was stellar last season like you say.

      • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

        Lines should ask Portland for Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath next. He should ask for some more first round picks too. Maybe the moon too.

        …Since apparently he gets whatever he asks for… Without equal compensation………….

        As nice as it looks from my perspective it just lacks any sense.

        • Elaine

          Williamson, Wetzel, and a draft pick were what Riley was willing to give up for Vero, not Morgan and Heath (maybe Lines asked too but Riley said no).

          • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

            Of course I was kidding.

          • Elaine

            Of course! By the way, Marta may be available come June. Who has her rights? Sahlen?

          • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

            Gag me. Best case scenario WNY does have her rights and refuses to pay her.

            More likely WNY has her rights and pays through the nose for her.

            Even more likely WNY (or any other team for that matter) doesn’t have the salary cap room for her.

        • Davis

          Assuming that Boquete really is the unnamed player in the draft, then I think the trade is fairly equitable. I’m sorry to see Williamson go, but to get the rights to a player of Boquete’s caliber the Thorns were going to have to give up something pretty substantial.

  • Jigsawwill

    Speaking of Vero! lol

    http://youtu.be/ncmDUbLBjkw

  • AshleyZ

    I’m bummed Williamson is leaving too, I thought she was great on defense. Nothing showy but really dependable.
    So if the trade is for Boquete like everyone is saying – does she play forward or midfield? I honestly can’t remember from when she played for Philly. I know Portland has a bunch of midfielders but I think it’ll work out, since they’ll have quite a few people from every position gone for national team duty at various times.

    • Rdalford

      In Philly Riley used Boquete mostly in AM role.

    • Lorehead

      Everyone at Portland is talking her up as a midfielder.

      • kernel_thai

        In Arizona Riley had Shim playing forward.

        • Lorehead

          I mean that Riley is talking up Vero, by name. And Paulson is calling the new player the best female midfielder in the world (which annoyed Tobin’s fans to no end).

          • KT5000

            Really? The best female midfielder in the world?! I should really keep up on the Twitter…
            So, what do we think? Swedish, German, or French?

          • David K Anderson

            Yeah, that was a pretty silly claim. Vero looks superb…but Tobin Heath is the best attacking mid in the game. Tobin will also be gone for half a season (again), though, so this seems like a terrific move to me.

  • FCKCEvans

    Dang Williamson AND a 1st round pick. I know Vero is good and all but it seems Portland is quite thin on defensive quality until Catley arrives. I know Riley is a fantastic coach but still…

    • Lorehead

      Portland seems to be operating on the assumption that it can sign a veteran from abroad if it needs one, and therefore doesn’t need draft picks. (Draft timeouts, on the other hand?) Also, I think the plan is to win and have the last pick anyway.

  • Lorehead

    Oh, by the way, the Dash are live-streaming their friendly against the Houston Aces. The stream looks very good by NWSL standards, even if the announcer started by calling the match with a second-division team a “rivalry” and mispronouncing “Derby.”

    • D23

      When I was watching the female commentator did state that Alex won’t be available.

      • Steglitz49

        The value of Alex to American soccer must not be underestimated.

        It could be argued that American soccer has an (almost) unhealthy focus on Alex. Not even Abby or Hope cut that much ice. But, without Alex, how would women’s pro-soccer get noticed and where would the NWSL be? The Alex brand is huge, partly because she is so well managed.

      • kernel_thai

        Yeah but they mentioned Tobin Heath being there at least twice.

    • Rdalford

      Agree Live stream quality was good.

  • Lindsey

    IMO the unnamed player to be named later is Abby and it will be announced after the season is over. As much as Portland fans would moan and groan about that happening there really isn’t much doubt as to who that unnamed player will be especially considering Abby’s remarks over the past couple of weeks about how she could have played in Portland. Either way, there really isn’t a single player that the Flash could give away that would make this trade even.

    • you’re funny

      hahaha

    • Lorehead

      For one thing, they’ve already said she’s an international and a midfielder.

      • Lindsey

        Who said that? I must have missed it.

      • Steglitz49

        That covers a lot of players. As far as I know, Portland has yet to sign a pet Nadeshiko. France plays a winter season. Thus, Tobin could be bringing some-one back with her, not even French. (Vero remains the obvious candidate.)

    • guest

      Are you off your rocker?

  • Rdalford

    Australia v Brazil (0-0) at half

    • Steglitz49

      It finished 1-0 to Brazil. Ellyse Perry was not playing for Australia apparently,unless she came on as substitute.

      • Guest

        She isn’t playing because the current NT coach says she can’t play two sports and is leaving her off rosters.

        • Steglitz49

          Cricket (probably) outranks soccer downunder.

  • Guest

    Reign’s second preseason game ended 8-0 over SPU yesterday. Naho clocked in with 1 goal and 5 assists. Goals from Foxhoven, Naho, Goebel, Patterson, LaPone, and Deines.

    Reign has video highlights and photos of the game on their twitter/facebook. That is their second and final preseason game. The first being a 5-0 win over UW.

  • Jess

    I’m taking the Huffman move as a definitive sign that Wambach will be in Portland next year. That means Morgan, Heath or Van Hollebeke will be out next year. Also if Morgan stays and Wambach comes, Sinclair might leave. Wambach, Morgan and Sinclair would make a crowed forward line. All three deserve to start and unless Portland switches to three up top (which with their midfield prowess I doubt they will) one of them is going to lose playing time. Therefore my guess (and it is truly a very rough guess) might be that Wambach comes to Portland and Morgan leaves to possibly go to Houston or even WNY.

    • Lorehead

      I doubt it. Wambach says she wants to move to her new home in Portland, but after she retires. That said, with Alex Sahlen (team president, whose father is the owner and whose husband the coach) having her first baby, a lot could change in Rochester.

  • Lorehead

    Okay, four defenders on the roster and five forwards? Catley’s with her national team, Menges is finishing her degree at Georgetown, and Niemiec isn’t on it. All I can say is, our mids had better be ready to play end-to-end. Opening day in Houston is going to be something to watch.

    Also, remember how I said, at least FCKC’s sleeves are distinctive? The scavenger-hunt gimmick is cute, though, and at least the girls got scarves and hugs out of it.

  • Calci0

    Said un-named player turned out to be: Verónica Boquete (Vero).