After a relatively quiet acquisition week in the National Women's Soccer League for Seattle Reign FC, the Reign announced their acquisition of experienced midfielder Christine Nairn from the Washington Spirit. The Reign also acquired the rights to current Avaldsnes goalkeeper Madalyn Schiffel. In exchange, the Spirit acquired the right to Havana Solaun, the 3rd and 36th overall picks in the 2017 NWSL College Draft and Seattle’s second-round pick in the 2018 draft.
Nairn's history throughout her NWSL career
2013 was a difficult season for the Seattle Reign, but Nairn was a bright spot for the team that struggled most of the season and finished second-last in the league. Nairn featured in every match for the Reign, scoring three goals and getting five assists and it was this form that facilitated her trade to the Washington Spirit.
The midfielder went on to make 67 appearances for the Maryland-based team and in that time, scored 14 goals and creating 10 goals for her team. Last year, Nairn's midfield play under new head coach Jim Gabarra, helped the Spirit reach the NWSL Championship for the first time in their history, and in the final, Nairn converted her penalty in the shoot-out that the Spirit would eventually lose to the Western New York Flash.
Harvey and Nairn express their delight at the deal
Nairn, a familiar name to NWSL fans, returns to the club that gave her her start to her NWSL as she featured for the Reign in 2013 season before being acquired by the Spirit during the Kim Little trade in 2014. Both the player and the club spoke to the Reign's official website after the announcement.
Head coach and General Manager, Laura Harvey, had this to say about Nairn; “I’m excited for Christine’s return to the club,” as she felt that it was the right time for the midfielder to return to Seattle. Harvey also stated that she believed that Nairn had "played a key role in Washington’s success over the past three seasons" and she would make the same or a similar impact for Seattle.
Christine Nairn was also quoted in the official announcement as being “very excited to come back to Seattle for the upcoming season.” Nairn expressed how she thought that the Reign had been “one of the best organizations in the NWSL since day one" and that in her first year she had been happy with her experience at the club so it was a "very easy decision to return.”
The Spirit have draft picks, but will it be enough?
The Spirit have received some high draft picks for the next two seasons but when you combine this trade with that of US international Ali Krieger's earlier, it seems as though the Spirit are losing key players who helped them get to the NWSL Championship this year. Preparing for the future is always a wise move and ensuring that they have the opportunity to draft some top prospects from the college game cannot be ignored but in order to have a strong team, you need to have both veteran leadership and youthful willingness. With rumors also swirling that Crystal Dunn may head to Europe and that many top potential college players are looking to play in Europe next year as well, Spirit fans may wonder what exactly the front office is planning for the NWSL 2017 season.
The Spirit do have a good player in Solaun who saw limited playing time in Seattle due to the strength of their midfield. If she can get as much playing time in Washington as Nairn did, she could become a very good attacking midfielder in the NWSL.
Schiffel acquisition can not be underestimated
As for the other part of the deal, Madalyn Schiffel, if she decides to be a part of the Reign next season, could be a good pickup for Seattle. With not much known about Hope Solo's availability next season due to her surgery and rehabilitation, another goalkeeper would be something that the Reign would have looked into for the upcoming season. In the Topserrien, Schiffel made 21 appearances for Avaldsnes this season and kept 17 clean sheets. The young goalkeeper has had an outstanding for the league runner-ups and has the potential to become even better with more playing time. Schiffel also featured for the United States at the U20 and U23 level so she does have some national team experience to call upon if she decided to come back to the US.
Quotes via TheBold.net (Seattle Reign FC official website)