The Washington Spirit have acquired longtime U.S. Women’s National Team defender, Kelley O’Hara from the Utah Royals. The Spirit will be the third team that O’Hara has played for in the NWSL
Utah will receive $75,000 in allocation money plus a conditional 2022 first-round pick if she plays in more than half of Washington’s game next season. The draft pick could prove to be huge for Utah in getting a young talent from a class that could include Jaelin Howell and Brianna Pinto as well as other highly regarded college players.
The deal has been in the works for quite some time now. Reports of the deal first surfaced in the summer but talks quickly diminished after the two clubs couldn’t come to an agreement.
Looking at the deal, it’s difficult to tell if it was a good trade for both teams. Looking back at the expansion draft, Utah protected O’Hara instead of other young players. If the Royals left her unprotected, and Racing Louisville would have selected her, they would’ve gotten $75,000 as well. So why wouldn’t you just leave her unprotected and use that protection spot for someone else?
I’m honestly not sure; maybe they were closer to a deal that would have included more coming to Utah in return. As I mentioned before, the 2022 draft class is talented, so the draft pick can come in handy IF they get it and that’s a big if based on O’Hara’s injury issues. It ultimately didn’t matter in the expansion draft because they only lost Christen Press but would have been a head-scratcher if things played out differently during that draft.
It was clear that O’Hara didn’t want to be there, so I’ll give credit to Utah for getting the deal done and getting something in return.
The Spirit stuck it out and stood by the fact that they were not willing to give up any players for the deal to go through and got their wish. From a Spirit point of view, this is a good deal. Washington is a young team with no ceiling when it comes to potential. O’Hara is a two-time World Cup Champion and an Olympic Gold Medalist, who will add another level of leadership and experience to the team. During the offseason, O’Hara lives in D.C., so it makes sense as to why she wanted to make the move.
The downside for Washington would be that her injury woes continue. O’Hara joined the Royals in 2018 for their inaugural season; in her time with Utah, she only played in 14 games. The good news for the Spirit though is that it appears that O’Hara might finally be close to healthy. The defender played 76 minutes for the U.S. in their most recent international game against the Netherlands last week.
We’ll have to wait and see how next season plays out, but if O’Hara does play in half of Washington’s games, then the deal would be a success for both clubs.