Earlier tonight Equalizer Soccer broke the news that the Boston Breakers had traded starting goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher to the Chicago Red Stars for defender Whitney Engen.
Naeher has long been a stalwart of the Breakers, getting drafted by them in WPS until that league folded and sticking with them in NWSL for all three seasons. She earned NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year honors in 2014 after posting 106 saves on the season, the best in the league.
Engen played under new Breakers head coach Matt Beard during her time with Liverpool in the FA WSL.
Details are yet to be confirmed with the team, but if this trade is a straight-up exchange between Naeher and Engen, it's hard to fathom that Boston has come out on top with this one. Engen is certainly an able central defender and would help strengthen the defense in front of goal paired with Kassey Kallman, but Naeher has been an absolutely crucial backstop for the Breakers. Now, Beard may be betting that a stronger back four will decrease the need for goalkeeping heroics.
It's uncertain at the moment who the Breakers would bring in to replace Naeher. Backup goalkeeper Jami Kranich performed ably while Naeher was away at the World Cup, but wasn't quite at her level yet. What is certain is that with Engen in Boston, Julie King will probably make way in central defense, pushing back out to the wing - which in turn may push Lauren Lazo out of the starting XI, assuming the team simply doesn't part ways with her.
The Breakers may release additional trade details, but for now, they seem to be hoping that strengthening the team on the field may allow them to get away with a weaker player in goal. Certainly between the additions in the midfield and Engen at central defense, the team looks less shaky up the spine, but Naeher brought a certain peace of mind whether Boston was winning or losing.