There was obviously one notable absence from Angel City FC’s inaugural preseason roster this week, of U.S. international Julie Ertz, whose NWSL rights were acquired in a trade from the Chicago Red Stars this offseason.
Now comes a credible report that Ertz will not be playing for ACFC at all this year, per The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf on Thursday.
Angel City FC says they don't expect Julie Ertz to play in 2022, but they retain her #NWSL rights. Angel City acquired Ertz's rights in an offseason trade with Chicago but she has not signed. She last played in August, for the #USWNT.— Jeff Kassouf (@JeffKassouf) February 3, 2022
➡️ https://t.co/rPjoGJO0M1 pic.twitter.com/956eDfboa3
“Julie is not planning to play in the 2022 season, but we hold her rights so should something change, she would play for ACFC,” an Angel City FC spokesperson was quoted as saying in Kassouf’s story.
Now is probably a good time to explain the distinction between a player being on the team and not in NWSL, since it’s likely pretty confusing for some fans just learning the intricacies of the league. Most players in the league are on short contracts, a significant number on one-year deals. This means that when trades take place between clubs in the league, there are effectively two kinds of acquisitions: Trades for players under contract, and trades for players not under contract. Obviously, trades for players under contract, such as those that take place during the season, often end up being more lucrative because clubs that acquire players also acquire their active contract.
However, a significant portion of offseason trades involve players who are not under contract, and therefore teams are swapping a player’s NWSL rights. In other words, the player could choose to play outside the NWSL and move on a free transfer, but if they want to play within the NWSL, they are not a free agent if a team holds their league rights. In this case, Ertz is not under contract, presumably, and Angel City only acquired her NWSL rights. This is why a U.S. international was swapped as part of a trade package and not in a blockbuster deal of her own.
Why isn’t Ertz playing for Angel City this year? That’s a good question and we don’t know at this point, frankly. She’s been dealing with injuries for a number of years and is a player who really gives all for the cause, and she may just need to rest, rehab and recuperate to get her body right again. It could be something else, but it’s really not our business to speculate, since she and her representatives have not provided any explanation and they are entitled to do that on their own time, if at all. At the same time, one would expect ACFC have been planning to play without her for the inaugural season, so hopefully that’s already accounted for as the club embark on their debut campaign.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.