By CAITLIN MURRAY
The National Women’s Soccer League is now home to the two best female soccer players on the planet.
German National Team goalkeeper Nadine Angerer announced Monday she will play for the Portland Thorns this coming season – and then hours later, she was named FIFA World Player of the Year.
“To be able to sign one of the best goalkeepers in women’s soccer illustrates how serious we are about being one of the top clubs in the world,” Thorns coach Paul Riley said in a statement. “Nadine is exceptional in just about every category – shot saving, footwork, crosses, organization, knowledge and experience. We are honored to have Nadine on our roster and she will be a critical addition in our goal to host and win the NWSL Championship.”
Angerer carried Germany to win its sixth Euro Cup title in July after stopping a penalty in each half of the championship against Norway, helping secure a 1-0 victory. Her coach, Silva Neid, won the highest coach honor at the FIFA ceremony Monday.
Angerer beat out Abby Wambach for the world’s top honor in a year when Wambach broke the world record for most internationals goals. Wambach came in second but had won the award last year.
Last week, the NWSL raised its cap on the number of foreign non-allocated internationals allowed per team, clearing the way for Angerer’s signing.
Monday was a busy day in the NWSL, so here’s the rest of the trades and signings from around the league:
LeBLANC JOINS RED STARS TO FILL VACANT GOALKEEPER SPOT
After signing Angerer, the Portland Thorns sent goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc to the Chicago Red Stars in exchange for a second-round draft pick.
LeBlanc had been the starting goalkeeper for the Thorns when they won the league title last year, recording seven shutouts in 21 appearances, including during the 2-0 championship win over the Western New York Flash.
Although she’s fan favorite, the Thorns obliged trading her to a team where she could be guaranteed a starting spot and get game minutes ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
“Having brought one of the top goalkeepers in the world to the Thorns in Nadine Angerer, we realized how important it is for Karina to play regularly so close to a World Cup,” Riley said in a statement. “Giving her a trade to Chicago will enable her to achieve her personal goals.”
LeBlanc comes to the Red Stars after they had traded away their starting goalkeeper, fellow Canadian Erin McLeod, to the Houston Dash in exchange for forward Melissa Tancredi.
“Karina is an important piece for us because she is a proven winner,” said Red Stars coach Rory Dames. “Her experience in winning a championship will be very important for our young team this year.”
DASH ADD ONE, TRADE FOR ANOTHER; FC KANSAS CITY TRADES TWO FOR DRAFT PICKS
The Houston Dash made two moves Monday, bringing in two more former players of coach Randy Waldrum.
The Dash acquired forward Stephanie Ochs from the Washington Spirit in exchange for forward Danesha Adams, who they had just picked up days ago in an expansion draft from Sky Blue FC.
“Danesha is someone we have admired for some time,” Spirit coach Mark Parsons said in a statement. “She has great power and pace and is a consistent threat all over the field. It has been a priority to bring in experienced players that can make an immediate impact and Danesha brings that and so many other exciting qualities.”
Ochs had played under Waldrum on the U.S. U-23 youth squad, along with two other players the Dash had acquired from the Spirit in the expansion draft – Kika Toulouse and Tiffany McCarty.
“Stephanie is a great addition to the Dash family,” Waldrum said in a statement. “She is fast, athletic and relentless. She will fit perfectly in our system. Steph played for me with our U-23 national team, so I’m so excited to reunite with her.”
In more NWSL goalkeeper action, the Dash acquired FC Kansas City backup Bianca Henninger in exchange for 19th overall selection in this week’s college draft.
FC Kansas City had two other allocated goalkeepers in starter Nicole Barnhart of the U.S. National Team and Cecilia Santiago of the Mexican National Team.
“We made a great trade in solidifying our goalkeeping needs,” Waldrum said. “Bianca played for me with our U-23’s, and she is one of the best young US goalkeepers out there.”
Kansas City also sent midfielder Sinead Farrelly to the Thorns for the 16th overall pick in the college draft.
“Sinead is a versatile player and was one of the best box-to-box midfielders in WPS,” Riley said. “She is smooth, intelligent and has an engine second to none. Having coached her before, I know her strengths and she brings a lot to the table and will be a great addition to our 2014 team.”
The college draft is scheduled for Jan. 17. Following Monday’s day of trades, the NWSL released an updated draft order here.
What do you think of Portland landing the top player of the year and sending LeBlanc to Chicago? Is the Dash’s strategy of bringing in Waldrum’s former players a good idea? How important are draft picks for Friday’s draft?
Share your thoughts below.