Sam Kerr will do her scoring for the Chicago Red Stars this season. (Jeff Auger Photo)
By Michael Lewis
PHILADELPHIA — Sky Blue FC lost what many observers consider to be the best women’s soccer player in the world.
In her stead comes a player who has been hailed as the best in the world, not once, but twice.
In a blockbuster trade made at the National Women’s Soccer League draft Thursday, according to multiple sources, Sky Blue FC sent league MVP and Golden Boot winner Sam Kerr, Sarah Killion and the 24th pick in the draft to the Chicago Red Stars. Chicago, in turn, dealt U.S. international forward Christen Press and the seventh overall selection to the Houston Dash, which traded two-time FIFA women’s world player of the year Carli Lloyd and Canadian international Janine Beckie to the New Jersey side.
Sky Blue FC, the Red Stars, Dash or NWSL had yet to officially confirm the trade early Thursday evening.
The 35-year-old Lloyd, who can play midfielder or forward, was honored by FIFA in 2015 and 2016.
The Delran, N.J. native will get an opportunity to finish her career close in her home state.
During an interview last August, Lloyd said she was far from finished, saying she would like to play internationally for several more years.
“The plan is the next cycle,” said Lloyd, which means she hopes to play in the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France and at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Lloyd would be 38 by the latter competition.
“For me, age is just a number,” she said.
“I think that you become smarter and more efficient with age. It’s all about evolving. Every part of my career and every phase of my career has been something different. Now it’s being more sophisticated. Players are out to steal the ball away from me. They’re out to critique me. I’m in the spotlight. Everybody thinks that I’ve got to score a hat-trick every single time I step out onto the pitch. That doesn’t happen like that. But I’ll take hat-tricks in perfect moments while I’m continuously going through this journey trying to get better and to improve and help my team.”
The way Kerr played in 2017, everyone expected a hat-trick just about every time out.
She won Most Valuable Player honors, became the league’s career goal leader (43) and the Golden Boot winner broke the season record by scoring 17 goals.
The Perth, Australia native, who also was named to the NWSL Best XI, also became the first player in league history to record two hat-tricks in a season and four goals in a match.
For the Matildas, the 24-year-old was named the Asia Football Confederation women’s player of the year at the AFC Annual Awards in Bangkok, Thailand.
Kerr, who was named the FrontRowSoccer.com personality and pro player of the year in 2017, has tallied 11 times in her last six matches for the national side, becoming the first Australian player to score in six consecutive games. She also was recognized by her peers as the 2017 Professional Footballers Australia female footballer of the year at a ceremony September.