NWSL rosters are tight, as in limited to a max of 24 active players tight, so there’s not a lot of room for movement team to team. But keep in mind that in the NWSL teams aren’t reliant on player swaps, as allocation money, international slots and draft picks are all tradable assets.
So here are some moves teams should explore as they chase the playoffs, and/or a championship:
Jennifer Cudjoe from NJ/NY Gotham FC to Angel City FC
Angel City needs mobility, assured passing and steel in midfield, and all of that can be found in Cudjoe’s game. Unfortunately, and for rather curious reasons, Gotham have yet to utilize Cudjoe.
For Angel City, fitting Cudjoe alongside Cari Roccaro and Dani Weatherholt would give them more control over matches, which they’ll need with Christen Press, their best attacking option, out for the season.
Ebony Salmon from Racing Louisville to Chicago Red Stars
Rookies Ava Cook and Ella Stevens are playing so well in the Red Stars attack that even through injuries, Chicago has a good chance to make it back to the NWSL Championship.
Upgrading the attack with Ebony Salmon, who has only featured for a curious 75 total minutes with Racing Louisville, would be devastating. Salmon would immediately help Chicago maintain attacking threat while Pugh is away at the CONCACAF W Championship. Then, when Pugh returns, the combination of the two darting around the attacking third would rattle the knees of every center back.
Yazmeen Ryan from Portland Thorns to Houston Dash
Portland is loaded with talent and will probably not let any go, but Ryan would provide some much-needed dynamism in the middle of the park for Houston. The Dash have exciting attacking talent in wide areas but not enough creativity in central areas.
Also, Houston are already without reliable forward and soul-of-the-team Rachel Daly, who is with the England squad ahead of next month’s EUROS. Nichelle Prince and Maria Sanchez will be missing for some time with their respective national teams, Canada and Mexico, too. Finding a way to bring in Ryan would help in the short- and long-term.
Courtney Petersen from Orlando Pride to Washington Spirit
For a number of reasons, this is the least likely trade to happen. Petersen is only 24 and Orlando likely wants her to be part of their rebuild. Also, since their new head coach was placed on administrative leave ahead of an investigation, the NWSL froze their roster from incoming and outgoing transfers. But since this is not a formal contract and instead words on a website, let us (read: the author) dream.
This season, the Spirit have played Swedish international Julia Roddar at left back, as well as forward Anna Heilferty. Due to injuries, Roddar has often been needed in midfield, and Heilferty’s creativity is better utilized in attack. Petersen would not only fill a position that’s been patchwork, she’d give the Spirit another nonstop runner with excellent wide delivery. With the Spirit losing eight (8!) players to the CONCACAF W Championship, Petersen would add stability to a heavily rotated defense, with the bonus of freeing Heilferty to play further forward.