On Thursday the North Carolina Courage announced that they were trading defender Morgan Reid to the Orlando Pride for a fourth round pick in the 2020 NWSL College Draft. A late draft pick has very little value, which indicates that Reid was probably not going to make the final Courage roster in her second season with the team. The Courage are one of the few teams in the league that can afford to trade away an outside back.
THANKS MORGAN,— Paul Riley (@prileyfury4life) April 4, 2019
Great move for you to make next step in your career. You have been fantastic to coach and your development has been outstanding. Best wishes down the road. You will be missed in Courage Country but we are extremely thankful for your contributions to NC COURAGE https://t.co/NDOHSdAONI
Plenty of defenders to go around
If you've been following the USWNT for the last two years you know that there is a major shortage of competent outside backs in the United States player pool. That shortage doesn't extend to the Courage.
North Carolina has two international level center backs anchoring the defense in Abby Dahlkemper and Abby Erceg. Behind those two, Kaleigh Kurtz is probably the most competent backup defender in the league. Kurtz started in six regular season matches and both of the ICC Women’s Tournament games. The Courage also have newly acquired Ally Haran and former Boston Breakers defenders Julie King in competition for the second spot at center back.
The stability and abundance of talent at the center of the backfield is matched by the depth of talent on the outside. Jaelene Hinkle, despite her controversial personal opinions, is one of the best defenders in the league, and the addition of Merritt Mathias before the 2018 season seamlessly replaced Taylor Smith who was traded to the Washington Spirit as part of a package for Crystal Dunn. Mathias had a few opportunities to break into the USWNT, but she never quite caught on with Jill Ellis. Neither of those talented players are expected to be missing during the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France this summer.
That takes us to the reserve outside backs. The Courage didn't play many games in 2018 without Hinkle or Mathias. Hinkle started in 20 out of 24 regular season matches and played in both ICC matches. In the games without Hinkle on the left, head coach Paul Riley slotted in Dunn for one game, Kurtz started one, and Meredith Speck started once.
Mathias missed two regular season games and both of the ICC games because she was training with the USWNT. When she was gone, Elizabeth Eddy replaced her once, and Heather O’Reilly replaced her once during the regular season, once at the ICC tournament, and she started in Hinkle’s spot once.
There was one match in the ICC Women’s Tournament final that Ryan Williams started at right back in place for Mathias as well. The only time Reid ever hit the pitch for the Courage outside of the preseason was when she came on as a substitute in the 82nd and 83rd minutes for R. Williams in the two ICC games. That track record isn't necessarily a knock against Reid, but the Courage are an extremely deep team. This is definitely the best opportunity to Reid to earn a roster spot for an NWSL team, and we wish her the best finding a home with her new squad.