Kansas City NWSL made waves around the league Thursday morning, trading veteran team captain Amy Rodriguez and $60,000 in allocation money to the North Carolina Courage in exchange for three players.
The Kansas City club will obtain forward Kristen Hamilton, goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland and midfielder Hailie Mace from the Courage … coincidentally, the team they’re scheduled to play Friday night.
With the winless first-year KC team mired in last place in the league, trading an established, veteran star for three women capable of contributing was a difficult bu necessary decision, club officials decided.
It was unclear whether Rodriguez, known also as “A-Rod,” would play for the Courage in Friday night’s KC home game at Legends Field in Kansas City, Kan.
“I have a huge amount of respect and gratitude for Amy, not just for what she has accomplished on the pitch and for what she means to Kansas City soccer, but for her professionalism and leadership,” KC coach Huw Williams said. “These are difficult decisions that almost always come down to timing and circumstances, and in this case, that means giving up a great player to build our team. We wish Amy the best moving forward.”
Rodriguez has deep roots in Kansas City, having joined FC Kansas City — the city’s former NWSL team — in 2014. She won two NWSL championships with KC in 2014 and 2015 and earned MVP honors in 2015.
She remained with the organization through its relocation to Utah and return to Kansas City in December 2020. She made 48 appearances for the two KC teams, scoring 28 goals.
Rodriguez’s direct replacement will be Hamilton, who has been a key contributor to both the Western New York Flash and then the NC Courage when the team relocated to North Carolina in 2017.
At 29, Hamilton already has three NWSL championships to her name since being drafted in 2014. She has scored 16 goals for the Courage since 2017. Also bringing in championship experience is goalkeeper Rowland, who also has three NWSL titles.
Rowland returns to Kansas City after being drafted by FCKC in 2015 before being traded to Western New York midway through the 2016 season. She remained a key contributor with the Courage until 2019, but has since fallen out of favor as Casey Murphy has taken the reps in goal at NC.
The third player in the trade is young defender Hailie Mace. The 24-year-old was a standout performer for UCLA from 2015-18 and was drafted second overall in 2019 by Sky Blue FC (now NJ/NY Gotham).
Mace played overseas in Sweden and Australia for a year before returning to the NWSL, where she was subsequently traded to the Courage in 2020. She made 15 appearances for North Carolina, scoring two goals and tallying one assist.
“We’re excited to welcome Kristen, Katelyn and Hailie to the club,” Williams said. “These are three dynamic players who can provide immediate impact for us. We are looking forward to quickly putting them in positions to contribute.”
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