The Boston Breakers have traded midfielder McCall Zerboni to the WNY Flash for their highest second-round pick in the 2017 college draft.
Zerboni was originally acquired from the Portland Thorns before the 2016 season as part of a package deal with fellow midfielder Sinead Farrelly, who has thus far continued to rehab a preseason injury and is not medically cleared to play. Zerboni, however, has started every game for Boston and played 670 minutes over eight games.
Zerboni was supposed to be the Breakers' defensive mid, pairing with Salem to sit in front of the back line and break up attacking play. Now, even though her role with the Breakers seemed solid, she returns to the Flash, with whom she played for several seasons in both WPS and NWSL, before her move to Portland for the 2015 season. Zerboni now jumps from the last-place team in the league to the number two team in the league, with the Flash tied with the Red Stars on points.
Why the sudden move then? The Breakers are making salary room for new players, while Zerboni found it difficult being separated from her fiancé. So: a trade.
It seems WNY was willing to take on Zerboni as a known factor, and if she earns a starting spot, will probably slide into the midfield with Samantha Mewis but take on a more attacking role than she did for Boston. The Flash are already doing pretty well and likely wouldn't give up much more than a single second-round draft pick for Zerboni, even though she has been a decent chunk of the Breakers' midfield so far.
"The organization is thinking short and long term, and a high second-round in next year's draft has value based on draft depth," said a spokseperson for the Breakers.
Who will replace Zerboni? Perhaps whoever Boston is looking at to sign in the wake of her departure, or perhaps Beard will look at his existing bench. Perhaps Sinead Farrelly has finally recovered. There is an international trade window coming up, running from June 15 - July 14. Boston isn't particularly known for big international signings though, so it's more likely they might pick up a player from their reserves, or organize a trade within the league.
UPDATE: Here's some more background info on the trade from head coach Matt Beard.
"McCall wasn't settled - off the pitch that is, not on the pitch," he said. "It got to a point real early on that she was talking about retiring. We got through that period but she's tried and it's been one of them things it's just not worked out for us. It's not worked out for her. She's obviously shown commitment on the pitch, in the games and stuff like that, but her life off the pitch isn't what it should be."
"McCall's been extremely professional for us and for me, but it gets to the point where you've got to think about the person's life... I think in the long term it will benefit everyone; the team, and it will benefit of course McCall, being close to her partner." Beard also mentioned a few other factors besides Zerboni's separation from her fiance had contributed to an untenable personal situation, in which his player was simply not happy.
"It clears up a bit of money for us now," he added, "And obviously the international window opens up so we're working [on that]. If stuff comes up, brilliant, but I'm comfortable with the squad that we got and we're still going to crack on and continue the process that we started."
"Everything's been done amicably and everyone's moved on good terms."