On Tuesday, NWSL Champions NJ/NY Gotham FC made their first two trades of the offseason. The roster construction continued as the club announced the trades of Mandy Haught and Ellie Jean.
Haught was traded to the Utah Royals in exchange for $150,000 of allocation money and protection from the Expansion Draft. In other words, Utah cannot pick any Gotham player. Her surprising trade comes after the goalkeeper took over for Abby Smith after the starter's leg injury. As a result, the backup keeper started the final six regular season games and all three playoff matches.
The Bats were not finished. Not too long after, Gotham FC announced Jean's trade. The defender was a part of a three-way trade. She was sent to Bay FC, and the Bats received protection from the Expansion Draft. Also, a few draft picks were sent to Racing Louisville FC in exchange for them sending allocation money to Bay FC.
Gotham FC's trades made sense
Jean's trade was one that made sense. The center-back played in 22 games this season in all competitions and started in 16 of them. While she will be missed, Gotham FC have strong defenders on their roster. Moreover, there are some free agents on the defensive end that they could easily sign.
The trade that was a little shocking was Haught. She proved her worth when she took over for Smith. She was a vital part of the playoffs and had two clean sheets, too. Some even speculated whether she could replace Smith.
Nonetheless, the initial reaction to Haught's move was likely confusion. It was unexpected, especially after she stepped up and did well for the Bats. Yet, when one has time to process this, it can make sense.
Smith is a fantastic goalkeeper. She has two years left on her contract and is talented enough to keep her starting keeper spot. Haught has proved she is capable of being a starter in the NWSL. Therefore, it would be silly for her to sit on the bench once Smith is healthy.
So, Haught's move to Utah likely signals that she is leaving to be a starter. Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but it was the right decision for the player and club.
More importantly, these trades ensured that NJ/NY Gotham FC would not lose anyone in the Expansion Draft. In the end, these were good moves to make.