In the wake of the Portland Thorns trading Emily Sonnett to the Orlando Pride, there were a few questions as to how they would make up the deficit in their central defense. As it turns out, they had a pretty good idea of what to do: trade the Utah Royals for Becky Sauerbrunn.
Both teams announced earlier today that Sauerbrunn is headed to Portland in exchange for $100,000 in allocation money and defender Elizabeth Ball, with more money if “future conditions” are met. Utah’s press release, saying the transaction is $150k for Sauerbrunn, indicates that there’s an extra $50k on the line for those conditions, which Dan Lauletta reports might be Sauerbrunn continuing to play for the Thorns for the 2021 season.
She’s a Thorn!— Portland Thorns FC (@ThornsFC) March 3, 2020
We are thrilled to announce we have signed Becky Sauerbrunn from the Utah Royals. Welcome to Portland, @beckysauerbrunn!
DETAILS | https://t.co/ddtoN8c0T5 | #BAONPDX pic.twitter.com/KiJ3d5woWg
“We appreciate Utah being amicable to this trade in helping fulfill the wishes of Becky and her desire to come to Portland,” said Portland GM Gavin Wilkinson in a team press release. Sauerbrunn has talked about living in Portland before with her partner and her cats. Relatively close as Utah is, there’s something to be said about getting to live year-round in the same place.
Meanwhile, Utah continues to play the money game; as you’ll recall, they were the first team to use the league’s new financial compensation mechanism when they sent $60k to the Chicago Red Stars before the draft. It looks like they’re working on building up their treasury, perhaps to dangle for a decently prominent international player, perhaps to spend on other considerations.
Given Sauerbrunn will [most likely] be gone for the Olympics and may have a couple of years left for league play, this isn’t necessarily a bad deal for Utah, who if we’re being honest, kind of need a complete overhaul. Elizabeth Ball was a great depth piece for Portland last season and new Royals head coach Craig Harrington is coming from Chicago, a solid example of a team that invests in player development. Depending on how Utah spends their money, they could be trying to shift their roster younger and more available for the entire season. Does that outweigh the loss of someone like Sauerbrunn, even on partial availability? Well this season will certainly tell.