The expansion draft is coming up quickly leaving head coach Christy Holly and the rest of the Racing Louisville FC organization with some big decisions to make. There are a lot of factors to consider but I take a look at the USWNT allocated player’s situation and give my thoughts on what I would do and what I think Louisville might do.
I kind of touched on it in an earlier piece on this draft but there are some major risks to be taken in this. Players can refuse to report to Louisville or go overseas to play or something of that nature, and if that happens then Louisville essentially wasted a pick unless they can flip that player for something in return from a different team.
I don’t know what the league rules on this are, but if he’s allowed to do it I would assume that Holly has been busy at least talking to players agents to make sure players will come to Louisville. The bigger the name the more leverage a player has but some older players in the league could opt for retirement if they don’t want to make a move and that has to be kept in mind.
I’ll say it again, I wouldn’t take any of the USWNT players, I think that there are too many high-quality non-federation players available to take the risk. Add on the possibility of pocketing $150,000 for not selecting them just makes the decision easier in my opinion. If Louisville does decide to take a USWNT player I think it’ll come down to two players.
The Christen Press Gamble
Grabbing Christen Press’ rights and playing the long game is an option. Say that Louisville draft Press, she’s with Manchester United so if by some small chance she does come to play in Louisville she misses a chunk of the season.
A player of her caliber will have some leverage and a decent amount of say on where she wants to play to an extent. I would be shocked if she did report to Louisville but that possibility can’t be entirely ruled out, maybe Holly can sell her on making the move.
Let’s say that she does report to Louisville. It won’t be until at least May because of the Manchester United contract. Then you add on the Olympics if they happen she misses even more time so the amount of time that she would spend in Louisville is pretty limited.
The other side of this becomes playing the game of chess and picking up her rights anyway. The upside of this move is in 2022, where you could flip Press’ rights (assuming she doesn’t come back to the NWSL in 2021) to Angel City FC which is where Press most likely wants to be and the move that makes the most sense for all involved. I will say that Press is a phenomenal player so I think they could get a lot in return for Press if they were to go that route.
The risk in taking her rights becomes missing out on two players that would probably contribute to the team immediately and then they also don’t get that extra allocation money. There’s also the possibility that if she refuses to play in Louisville then they have no leverage which would factor into what they could get in return for her rights.
So really the question becomes does Louisville want to take the money and work on the team now with players that will most likely be there or do they see the value in Press and play the long game.
The move that makes the most sense to me if Louisville wants a USWNT player is to take Adrianna Franch. She’s an experienced goalkeeper that would be able to bring some valuable leadership to a new team. If the Olympics do happen next year then there is the possibility that she misses time as well though. My other concern is that they would miss out on another player from the Thorns roster, similar to what I said about the Christen Press pick up.
I think that there are some talented players available from Portland so I just don’t personally see how taking Franch can outweigh that but I won’t be completely shocked if they take her. The Thorns also left their other two goalkeepers unprotected leaving the option to take one of them and be able to grab a second player.
I don’t envy Holly and the Louisville staff for having to make these decisions. I don’t know if he’s going to value the return of what he could get in the future or the here and now more. We’ll just have to wait and see what they decide to do.